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Month: October 2019

Social media: 2 years ago, Google shut down the blog, email and all services of a prominent statistician

Social media: 2 years ago, Google shut down the blog, email and all services of a prominent statistician

In 2017, without warning or recourse, Google shut down all services associated with Salil Mehta, a professor of statistics, editor of a statistics journal, author of a best selling book on statistics, a former Obama administration official and later, a polling statistics adviser to the Trump campaign. His offense? He ran a blog about mathematics! Google, Facebook and Twitter have become the totalitarian governments of the 21st century, stifling speech their algorithms choose to flag. Unlike us peons, Mehta is well connected and a huge outcry caused Google to reinstate his account.

Climate communications: Professor thinks climate communications should be more hysterical

Climate communications: Professor thinks climate communications should be more hysterical

Professor advocates even more hysterical propaganda messaging for climate change communications. As we have repeatedly pointed out, this is the wrong approach: “Improved communication comes from honest and accurate presentation of facts and logical arguments. Unfortunately, the climate communications community has, rather consistently, engaged in increasingly shrill propaganda messaging that eventually results in the “The boy who cried wolf” phenomena where no one believes anything anymore.”

Privacy: Electronic devices being searched to determine what you do online

Privacy: Electronic devices being searched to determine what you do online

Egyptian authorities are now stopping people at random on the streets and searching their electronic devices including phones, tablets and computers to check their social media posts for “dissent” and to check one’s contacts. The U.S. already uses this option for some of those entering the United States, including searching or seizing the electronic devices of U.S. citizens.

Journalism: An example of excellent journalism

Journalism: An example of excellent journalism

Good journalism is being done. In addition to the embarrassing mistakes noted on this blog, there are also examples of excellent journalism. To provide some balance between the dreadful and the excellent, examples of great journalism will also be shared here.

This blog is primarily about propaganda messaging. Media plays a role in propaganda delivery, some times as propagandist and sometimes as counter propaganda. An example of the latter would be the BBC’s good reporting on the Amazon wild fire situation, noting that both media and social media spin were stretching the truth and leaving out critical context.

Journalism: Sports Illustrated laid off about half of its newsroom today

Journalism: Sports Illustrated laid off about half of its newsroom today

It may be that the value of a journalist was that the journalist was integrated with a printing press or broadcast license. Today, that value proposition has blown up. The “old” journalist had power through the control of information via access to printing presses and broadcast facilities. Now that everyone has low cost access to distribution, do journalists still add as much value as they once did?

Journalism and Selection bias: “Real estate is still the best investment today, millionaires say”

Journalism and Selection bias: “Real estate is still the best investment today, millionaires say”

“Selection bias” is common in news reporting. In this example, the news report about investing in real estate interviews only those who have made much money in real estate, and mostly those who work in the real estate industry. We do not hear from anyone who lost money or had an unsatisfactory experience in real estate investing. This skews our perspective on the subject.