Thursday, September 28, 2023

Sometimes the media just lies

This is a recent story which illustrates some of the ways in which the traditional media actively misinforms and deceives its consumers. The context for this is the UAW strike, which is described as the largest autoworker strike in decades. Both of the presumptive presidential nominees (Joe Biden, a Democrat and the current US President and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump) travelled to Michigan in response. Joe Biden actually joined the picket line to address the striking workers. By contrast, Donald Trump travelled to a non-Union shop and delivered a speech critical of the strike and union leadership. Despite this obvious difference, many mainstream media outlets treated Biden and Trump as engaging in equivalent activities with headlines such as the following:

 Biden, Trump to woo union workers in Michigan as auto strikes grow | Reuters

The New York Times ran with a similar headline, and even posted the following on the site formerly known as Twitter:

As local newspapers reported, the individuals in the picture (including individuals claiming to be union members and autoworkers) were not, in fact, union workers or autoworkers. 

All of this demonstrates, again, the unfortunate truth that we need to be very skeptical of the media and the ways that it reports on stories. 

h/t to Eschaton (

Monday, August 29, 2022

Brainstorm or Green Needle

 Here is another great example of audio pareidolia:

This is another excellent illustration of how our brain seeks to find meaning and comprehensibility in ambiguous perceptual stimuli. This one is particularly surprising given how different the two potential sounds are. 

I cam across this one from the latest episode of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Optical Illusions 2021

 Here is a great roundup of some of the best optical illusions of 2021. As always, the study of ways vision can be tricked and manipulated teach us a great deal about how our visual systems work. 

The 10 Best Illusions of the Year (

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The f*** are you doing?

 Here is another great segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver exploring "sponsored content." This is a practice where advertisers pay local stations to have their advertisements incorporated into local news programs. Here is John Oliver's explanation:

This is an excellent example of the second filter of Chomsky and Herman's Propaganda Model of the Media, the dependence on advertising. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Affinity Bias

 This is an excellent illustration of the Affinity Bias which is a cognitive bias which is an unconscious tendency to get along with people who are similar to us in various ways (gender, religions, ethnicity, etc.):

The key here is that this is an unconscious bias. The children in the video are not intending to be racist, but they have been raised in a culture that communicates racist assumptions to them which they have internalized. The experiment conducted by the psychologist reveals this. Because these biases are unconscious, the only way to combat them is to draw attention to them so that we can become aware of these tendencies in our thinking. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Increasingly, conservative media is completely reliant on bullshit

 Here is a clip from CNN that provides  nice survey of the increasing reliance by conservative media (and, more disturbingly, the Republican Party) on bullshit. 

I would also argue that what is described in this video is best classified as bullshit. Bullshit is different from lies in that the bullshitter does not care if what they say is true or false. All they care about is flooding the conversations with so much shit that people stop paying attention or come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as true or false.  As Jim Acosta notes, this is extremely disturbing because this kind of bullshit makes actually conversation and discussion about how to move the country forward almost impossible. 

h/t to Digby