Turkish media upset by Duke Political Science Professor Michael Ward's model for coup predictions

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Jan. 31 Washington Post article, penned by data scientist Andreas Beger and Duke University political science professor Michael Ward, discussed a forecast model that measures the likelihood of “irregular leadership changes, including coups.” According to Beger and Ward, their model shows Turkey coming in fifth (out of a total of 161 countries) most likely to experience a coup in 2017 — trailing Burundi, Thailand, Central African Republic and Chad. The article appeared on the Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, which shares political scientists’ research with the public to build “an informed audience.”
Although “Monkey Cage” is quite popular among scholars and curious members of the public in the United States, some Turkish media outlets threw a fit.
While opposition website OdaTV treated the article objectively and translating it into Turkish, pro-government Aksam newspaper ran a much harsher story on its front page. Aksam accused The Washington Post of “preparing” Beger and Ward’s list and laying the groundwork for another coup. In reference to a humorous Turkish maxim on empty hopes (“if the dog’s wish came true, the sky would rain bones”), Aksam’s front page read, “Don’t get excited: The sky won’t rain bones” with a picture of the Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

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