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


Friday, April 30, 2021

What about...

 Here is a nice article in Salon talking about the increasing reliance on the tu quoque fallacy (otherwise known as whataboutism) by members of the Republican Party in their attempts to defend against the indefensible actions and positions of their elected representatives. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Science is great, but it isn't perfect

Here is a fantastic cartoon that highlights some of the problems with science. At the end of the day, science is a human activity, so it shouldn't be surprising that all the flaws humans succumb to also infect their scientific activities.  



Thursday, July 30, 2020

Like Fox News, Social Media makes you dumber

The Pew Research Center has just released a study which likely confirms what many might have thought already. While the results may seem like common sense, it is very important to actually research this and make sure that "common sense" is actually true. 

Chart shows social media news users most likely to have heard conspiracy theory that pandemic was intentionally planned

The study is quite detailed and the authors go to great lengths to explain their methodology and present their evidence. Here is the authors presenting their main take away from this survey:
A new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 finds that those who rely most on social media for political news stand apart from other news consumers in a number of ways. These U.S. adults, for instance, tend to be less likely than other news consumers to closely follow major news stories, such as the coronavirus outbreak and the 2020 presidential election. And, perhaps tied to that, this group also tends to be less knowledgeable about these topics.
As we can see, people who get their information from social media know less about topics than people who get information from other sources, and furthermore, people who primarily get their news from social media have a greater chance of holding false beliefs than people who get their news from other sources. 

 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

John Oliver on Conspiracy Theories

If you spend much time on this blog, you can see that I am a big fan of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In particular, Oliver tends to do lengthy segments that are a deep dive into a particular topic. As of this posting, his most recent long segment was about conspiracy theories. While the focus was, given the current context, coronavirus conspiracies, many of the general points he makes about why conspiracy theories are popular and how to combat them are quite relevant to any conspiracy theory one might encounter.