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Author Topic: Fake news - why is this not important?
Grand Illusion
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
quote:
Originally posted by Grand Illusion:

My point is not to agree or disagree with any statistics or viewpoints, but just to say that there's data out there to support most any popular position. People tend to lend credence to (and seek out) statistics that reinforce their current beliefs.

But are you saying that all data is subjective? Can't that range of data sources be divided into better and worse (or more accurate/less accurate) sources? Is there no factual truth, only the dominance of certain opinions?

I think you're right about the way statistics are often used, especially by pundits and debaters. But I'd like clarification on what you think the nature of statistics are themselves.

--Logoboros

There is a lot of subjectivity and ambiguity in how statistics are collected, tabulated, and interpreted. That can cloud the line between fact and opinion. For example, the exact wording of survey questions will have an effect of the outcome. Asking, "Are you liberal or conservative?" is different from asking, "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?"

The questions that are not asked are important, too. I heard somewhere that when male students at a particular college were asked if they would commit rape if they knew they would get away with it, some 80% said they would. That statistic alone might lead people to believe that most men are rapists. However, if we found out that in the same university (polling both males and females), 72% would steal a car, 86% would commit identity fraud, and 94% would burn down their enemy's house, the 80% rape statistic would be cast in another light.

Also, most statistics floating out there aren't from scientifically controlled studies...there are a lot of reader's polls, public records, etc. that may or may not have been gathered in a statistically valid way.

Then, the problem arises of finding statistics that answer the questions we want to ask. If I want to know how many sexually violent criminals there are in my town, I can go to the court records and see how many people have been convicted of sexually violent crimes, but that doesn't answer my question because court records don't take into account people who have commited the crimes but didn't get arrested or convicted, or people who committed the crimes in a different town and then moved to my town.

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There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who do not.

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" - The Brain

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prof. yanaibara
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Woofer:
quote:
Originally posted by nwataya:
But considering the fact that your average reporter is 10 times more likely to be a supporter of democrats than a supporter of republicans, I wouldn't automatically assume most investigative reporting to be unbiased. Especially not in the topics they choose to investigate.

Cite please?
The Roper Center did a poll in '92 that found that 89% of journalists voted for Clinton, while only 7% voted for Bush (in a very close election). I rounded to 10 times more likely because a slight fluctuation in the lower number would change the multiple quite a bit. I don't know what the numbers for the more recent elections are, but I'm sure they're still heavily in favor of the democrat every time.

edit: I found that David Brooks (NYT) said this on PBS:

"I do know there are poll results that 90 percent of working journalists voted for Kerry. Does that mean they're biased? No. If they're professionals are not, because they know how to do their job. But I do think it is a danger when there are so few conservatives in a lot of media organizations that things get carried away and there is nobody around to break it."

but I haven't found the poll he's referring to yet. Now, he is a conservative, so he could be lying.

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away...

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Biggles
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Mosherette:

I don't really want to hijack, but can you give me an outline of what your talking about here? I've never seen such a thing and don't really understand what the concept might be.

Arrrgh - sorry Mosh, its not you (I will have a go at answering your question below), but the fact that posters almost immediately descended to a 'Democrats vs Republicans' debate which IMHO has nothing to do with this. In fact I could get on my soap box & say that its part of the problem that everything seems to get broken down to simply Them vs Us.. losing sight of the real issues..

The issue I tried to raise is that people should be able to seperate out an advert from facts or real opinions. As people tune off mainstream TV adverts, some marketing companies are pulling stunts that I consider to cross the ethical line; for instance 'viral marketing' campaigns where companies like Microsoft & tobacco companies (who can't mass-media advertise in many countries) offer money to people to promote products in secret - that is the recipients (the public) don't know hey are being advertised to. I find it too much like "The Truman Show" if I found I was chatting to somebody attractive in a pub who offered me a cigarette & found they were paid to do so. Here in Auckland, bartenders were rewarded by Microsoft to talk about how great the XBox was to customers (this apparently was a sucessful marketing campaign despite the bar-tenders having never seen the new product of course). This post or any other on the Snopes board could now just be Astroturfing ... infact I strongly suspect that some UL dropping into my inbox or found online, are now deliberately created and promoted by PR firms.

Where it really crosses the line for me, is that the US govt (I don't care which admin) was paying for & releasing 'news' stories which appeared on the TV news; and which were not real news items made by a reporter in the field but rather carefully crafted progaganda. Can you imagine a young US soldier seeing the grateful, friendly Iraqi's on the local TV news before being shipped out & finding out that the news was made by a marketing wizz who paid a few Lebanese to ham it up miles away from Iraq?

I believe the ethical thing would be for the US govt to come out and say that they (and PR companies they employ), are never to stoop to such methods. And sites like Snopes need to ensure that the truth can be found; which I suspect is going to get more difficult in the future.

To add to my original post: searhing wikipedia for a defn of Astroturfing I found this example which describes US Army's 'fake' letters:
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Letters_home

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Mosherette
Deck the Malls


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[Eek!]

Lordy. Does this sort of thing happen over here, does anyone know? Have I been unknowingly hoodwinked?

*wonders about the merits of a tinfoil hat*

[Wink]

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Silence should never under any circumstances be construed as agreement. A lot of the time, it's simply a reflection that someone just said something so stupid that no response could possibly do it justice. - Ramblin' Dave

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Zachary Fizz
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Mosh, there was a very interesting programme on Channel 4 just before the last UK general election. Peter Oborne presented it, I think. He was showing the way political campaigning was being done: any situation where a politician was in front of a crowd of "ordinary people", it turned out that they were activists bussed in to ensure it was the right type of ordinary people. IIRC all the parties were doing it, though New Labour and the Liberals appeared more efficient at it than the Tories (this was before Labour started having their members roughed up and arrested under the Terrorism Act for being off-message).

I don't know if it was the same programme, but I vaguely recall an interesting bit where the camera panned out from a packed crowd to show that they were in fact a small group, tightly packed around the area on which the camera had focussed.

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notgillcup
Deck the Malls


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I rarely watch local TV news - for several reasons. But back before I quit watching, I remember being annoyed by these "canned" news reports that quite obviously came from the national network or some other national-scale video news service. But the local anchors would often introduce the "story" and the "reporter" as if he/she were actually a member of the local news staff, and thank the reporter when the clip was over. It seemed very shady to me. I cannot remember the exact content of these clips - I suppose they could have been newsertizements or they could have been canned clips of real news stories provided by the network. In either case, I found it quite annoying and a little bit disgusting. Well, actually, in the case of advertisements dressed up as news, I find it a lot disgusting. I wonder how long this has been going on.
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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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quote:
Originally posted by nwataya:
quote:
Originally posted by Woofer:
quote:
Originally posted by nwataya:
But considering the fact that your average reporter is 10 times more likely to be a supporter of democrats than a supporter of republicans, I wouldn't automatically assume most investigative reporting to be unbiased. Especially not in the topics they choose to investigate.

Cite please?
The Roper Center did a poll in '92 that found that 89% of journalists voted for Clinton, while only 7% voted for Bush (in a very close election). I rounded to 10 times more likely because a slight fluctuation in the lower number would change the multiple quite a bit. I don't know what the numbers for the more recent elections are, but I'm sure they're still heavily in favor of the democrat every time.
Two examples, both Presidential elections are hardly enough data to say that journalists favor the Democrat 10 times as much as the Republican IMO. There are many more elections than just the Presidential election. It would be more telling if state representative and senatorial elections, mayoral elections, and local elections had journalists voting for the Democrat 10 times as much as the Republican.

--------------------
IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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prof. yanaibara
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
Two examples, both Presidential elections are hardly enough data to say that journalists favor the Democrat 10 times as much as the Republican IMO. There are many more elections than just the Presidential election. It would be more telling if state representative and senatorial elections, mayoral elections, and local elections had journalists voting for the Democrat 10 times as much as the Republican.

I thought it was decent data, and it's the best data that I know of. I once saw a poll of journalists in Washington state that showed their voting preferences in local races, with similar results. But I can't seem to find it now.

You could also look at the self-reporting of political leaning among reporters:

"In a survey conducted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1997, 61% of reporters claimed to be or lean towards being Democratic or liberal. Only 15% claimed to be or lean towards being Republican or conservative. A survey by the Pew Research Center and Project for Excellence in Journalism in 2004 found 34% of journalists describing themselves as liberal, 54% as moderate, and only 7% as conservative." - from Wikpedia

However, I consider this less helpful, because someone could declare themselves "moderate" and still vote for the Democrat or the Republican every time.

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away...

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Mosherette
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Al Fizz:
Mosh, there was a very interesting programme on Channel 4 just before the last UK general election. Peter Oborne presented it, I think. He was showing the way political campaigning was being done: any situation where a politician was in front of a crowd of "ordinary people", it turned out that they were activists bussed in to ensure it was the right type of ordinary people. IIRC all the parties were doing it, though New Labour and the Liberals appeared more efficient at it than the Tories (this was before Labour started having their members roughed up and arrested under the Terrorism Act for being off-message).

I don't know if it was the same programme, but I vaguely recall an interesting bit where the camera panned out from a packed crowd to show that they were in fact a small group, tightly packed around the area on which the camera had focussed.

It was Drop The Dead Donkey that opened my eyes to that kind of behaviour! [Wink] Damian used to carry around a small teddy bear (IIRC) and place it at the scenes of terrible accidents etc. - his piece to camera would always start on the teddy bear and then zoom out to show him and the surrounding devastation.

Fabulous programme, that.

--------------------
Silence should never under any circumstances be construed as agreement. A lot of the time, it's simply a reflection that someone just said something so stupid that no response could possibly do it justice. - Ramblin' Dave

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