Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Access trumps the truth

This link to an article in Vox gives a very nice illustration of how large media companies will bury or hide stories in order to gain access to subjects for interviews. In this case, ABC news buried an interview with one of Jeffrey Epstein's victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, because they were concerned that he accusations against Prince Andrew would interfere with ABC News' efforts to interview other members of the English royal family. In effect, they buried an important news story in order to maintain access and the ability to interview people who might have been implicated by that story.

This story in Salon amplifies this point and makes its relevance to Chomsky and Hermann explicit. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Of course the world's greatest detective knows his fallacies

Here is a nice example of a Hasty Generalization. I don't really need to explain it since the great Adam West as Batman makes the fallacy explicit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's natural so it must be good!

The Appeal to Nature is a fallacy in which someone argues that because something is "natural" it must be good. In addition to the obvious point that there are many natural things that are bad (uranium is natural, but don't eat it!), this fallacy often involves a very confused account of what is "natural." The following ad from Nature Valley granola bars gives a very good illustration of how marketers employ this fallacy to sell products to the public:

In this video we see a clear criticism of technology as unnatural, in contrast with all the "natural" activities the young girl engages in. This is an excellent illustration of the appeal to nature in action.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How Prices Anchor our Estimates of Value

The following commercial contains an excellent example of the Anchoring Heuristic. The anchoring heuristic is when an individual relies too heavily on an initial piece of information (the anchor) when making a decision or judgment. In this commercial they exploit our use of this heuristic by throwing out a price. This fixes in our mind a sense of the value of this product. When the actual cost of the product is revealed it sounds like a fantastic price because we are anchored to the initial price that was suggested.

At 00:58, we see the pitchman throw out the price of $20. By the end of the commercial we are being offered two of the product plus two mini-rollers all for the low, low price of only $10. This then sounds like an amazing deal because we are anchored to that initial $20 price and use that as our comparison in determining the value of this product. This is a basic practice in modern advertising, and I am sure readers can think of examples of many other commercials they have seen which use exactly the same techniques and exploit the same cognitive process. This is why critical thinking and an awareness of how our minds work is so important as it helps us become aware of and thus avoid getting taken in by these advertising tricks.