The Dunning-Kruger effect

Ivan Castillo really needs to try harder, if he is to be taken seriously.

In a very insensitive statement, Nationalist MP Ivan Castillo said that financial difficulties are more stressful than the death of a family member. The Nationalist spokesperson said that there is so much inflation at present that families cannot afford the same number or quality of goods as before – all while the Nationalist Party maintains that the economic growth of our country is all due to an excessive increase in private consumption.

Castillo asserts that a University of Malta study found that the financial difficulties families are experiencing in our country have led to more stress than that created by the deaths of family members. When one reads the report to which Ivan Castillo is referring, one finds that the survey states that only 16.8% of people interviewed ever experienced financial problems. In contrast, 81.8% had deaths in their family. A total of 40% of these people claim that this has led to severe psychological problems for them, which means that a third of all those interviewed said that the death of a family member had severe effects on them.

Looking at those 16.8% who have experienced financial problems, 49.3% of them say that this has had severe psychological effects on them. This means that only 8% of all those interested said they suffered from severe psychological effects due to financial difficulties. This is a quarter of the proportion of those who suffered because of a death in the family.

This shows how wrong Ivan Castillo was in his conclusions. The reality is that far, far more people according to the study he cited are suffering because of family deaths. Furthermore, Ivan Castillo tried to imply that the university study was carried out on current financial difficulties. In reality the survey indicates that people, including older people, were asked whether they had experienced financial problems during their lifetime – which means that, of the few who claimed to have experienced financial problems in their lives, a significant proportion may have experienced these problems in the 25 years of Nationalist governments, a time when the number of those in a state of severe material deprivation was three times the present number.

This latest episode of academic incompetence by Ivan Castillo follows several recent ones where this spokesperson has demonstrated his inability in economic and social analysis. In fact, a few days earlier, Castillo had written a statement claiming that Eurostat statistics show that wages in Malta are the lowest in Europe. This led the National Statistics Office to clarify that this was not true at all as the statistics he was referring to in fact showed that the burden on employers in Malta is the lowest in Europe, due to a lower burden of labour taxes.

Last January Ivan Castillo had issued a statement recriminating that our country had imported more goods than it had exported, stating this was a grave economic fact. In reality, official statistics show that this has happened in every month in our country’s history.

Castillo recently also stated publicly that a Nationalist government would bring Malta’s population back to what it was in 2013, which means that they would have to expel not only all third-country nationals but also European citizens who immigrated to Malta, as well as those thousands of Maltese citizens who have returned to our country since the change in Government.

Ivan Castillo really needs to try harder, if he is to be taken seriously.

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