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Month: July 2016

Context matters – “Allah is the only god”

Context matters – “Allah is the only god”

  TL;DR Summary Conservative social media protested that school children were ordered to write “Allah is the only god” for a school assignment. The incident did happen, but context matters! This is just one tiny part of a multi-part course segment on issues in world history. And specifically, on the role that religion has played in major historical events. On 1 day of a 3 week period, students examined the Five Pillars of Islam to learn the role they played…

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Social media is about conformity

Social media is about conformity

This odd study looked at women who wear heels and tracked their heel height as they geographically moved. The researchers found that when women moved to a wealthier area, their own heel height adjusted – up or down – to match that of the area they moved to – in other words, social conformity. That tendency to conform differed depending on the wealth of the places that the women were coming from, and the wealth of the places they were…

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Republican Platform seeks to sell off all Western US Federal lands

Republican Platform seeks to sell off all Western US Federal lands

TL; DR Summary The Seattle Post Intelligencer says the Republican Platform calls to “Sell off public lands in the West, log national forests”. This link was widely distributed on social media. Snopes.com says the erroneous story was based on an incorrect blog post from ThinkProgress claiming the GOP plans to close national parks, monuments, wilderness areas, national forests, BLM lands  and sell them to private interests. Snopes.com notes the assertions about national parks, etc, are not supportable and that the Seattle…

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“In the age of the Internet, the truth does not matter”

“In the age of the Internet, the truth does not matter”

“In the age of the internet, the truth does not matter. The message you want to propagate can be told, and it will spread like wildfire. And spread it did.” Propaganda spreads faster than wildfire on social media, often torching everything in its path. The marriage of social media and propaganda is extraordinarily dangerous if you think about how Internet mobs convict people, groups, ideas – in a matter of hours – in the absence of a full set of…

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Report: Portland Public Schools gave media flawed data on lead

Report: Portland Public Schools gave media flawed data on lead

The former top spokesman for Portland Public Schools knowingly gave a journalist flawed information on the district’s water testing, according to a local law firm’s investigation into the district’s lead crisis. Source: Report: Portland Public Schools gave media flawed data on lead The former spokesman now works for Uber. Today, the Superintendent resigned effective immediately. The School district knew they had lead in the school’s drinking water, hid the information from parents and largely ignored it, even lied about it….

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Simple messages are more successful

Simple messages are more successful

TL;DR Summary This Right Wing News poster is one of the few effective posters they distribute (right wing social media propaganda is way behind left wing social media propaganda). Using the methods of Assertion and Linkage, this poster delivers a simple, easy to understand message. The significantly altered photo of Hillary Clinton likely engages an emotional response as well.

The 1956 Republican Platform

The 1956 Republican Platform

  TL; DR Summary This poster comes from a left wing web site “GOP-The Party of Mean” and uses the technique of quoting one’s opposition to score points. This approach can be effective, even when, as Snopes points out, this stretches the truth. The poster uses words from 1956 in a clever way to imply support for 2015-2016 issues that are really quite different. The poster is also “busy” – too much for a reader to process and draw a conclusion in seconds….

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Social media “influencers” secretly paid by companies

Social media “influencers” secretly paid by companies

Social media stars have been paid – quite well – to secretly promote various brands and products. Source: FTC spanks Warner Brothers for failure to disclose social influencer payments | The Blog Box Social media is THE platform for all forms of propaganda!

How to use charts for misleading propaganda!

How to use charts for misleading propaganda!

This chart appeared on a blog post saying auto sales are “down again” and this should worry us about a recession.  See that blue arrow at the right? Looks horrible!!!! But this chart design is a real mess. First, the blue arrow anchors our view on the blue line and its downturn at the right. But the real chart is the harder to see gray column chart. Column charts are a *terrible* way to show a trend – line charts…

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Half of US Adults get news from Facebook

Half of US Adults get news from Facebook

Scary to think about considering the high degree of manipulative propaganda techniques applied and shared on social media: “Nearly half of US adults get news from Facebook, according to a Pew Research Center study conducted this year.” Source: In matters of life and death, how should Facebook decide what you see?

Propaganda and the Affordable Care Act

Propaganda and the Affordable Care Act

Each of the following widely publicized statements about the Affordable Care Act are not true: HealthCare.gov’s web site problems were just a glitch “70% of consumers are receiving a subsidy” “The Bronze plan covers 60% of expenses” “The average cost of a Silver plan for a 40 year old is…” “People’s policies were canceled because they were junk policies” What they all have in common is the power of propaganda messaging to spin a story, typically for political purposes.