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Category: Cherry Picking

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.

Journalism: “The No. 1 reason millennials are struggling to save for retirement”

Journalism: “The No. 1 reason millennials are struggling to save for retirement”

Some one thought this was profound: “About one-fifth (21%) of millennials say that student debt is holding them back from saving for their future. This is a much more common answer among young people: Only 12% of Gen Xers and 5% of boomers feel this way.”

In other words, people just out of college are more likely to have student debt than those who did not go to college (almost 40% more millennials have a college degree than the baby boom generation) or who went to college decades ago.

That is profound, isn’t it? /sarcasm

This illustrates how statistical reporting devoid of context leads you to an incorrect conclusion.

Climate Communications “Fail”: This is what happens when propaganda gets extreme

Climate Communications “Fail”: This is what happens when propaganda gets extreme

A classic illustration of how exaggerated, hyperbolic and untrue statements about climate lead to people conclude that projections of human-induced climate change are not true. Our own thesis is that 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. This item illustrates how climate communications has backfired, circled back on itself, and produced an outcome opposite to what was intended.

Climate Communications: 60+ news outlets sign on to coordinated, global “Covering Climate Now” messaging campaign

Climate Communications: 60+ news outlets sign on to coordinated, global “Covering Climate Now” messaging campaign

Newspapers worldwide have agreed to jointly engage in a global Covering Climate Now project, where newspapers and other news outlets simultaneously use their advocacy journalism to persuade readers to take action on climate. This is indistinguishable from a global, coordinated propaganda operation and may back fire, turning people off from understanding and undertaking meaningful actions on climate issues.

Climate communications: Social media has gone insane over fires in the Amazon area of Brazil, with most posts being wrong

Climate communications: Social media has gone insane over fires in the Amazon area of Brazil, with most posts being wrong

Social media has gone utterly insane about fires in the Amazon region of Brazil-virtually all of them contain false information. NASA points out that over their 15 year satellite-based observing history, the fire situation in the Amazon is average. But the falsehoods have blown up to the point that internationally known politicians are calling for action!

Social media is a bonfire of idiocy.

Pseudo news: “More Utah women are graduating with STEM degrees, but not at the same rate as men”

Pseudo news: “More Utah women are graduating with STEM degrees, but not at the same rate as men”

A pseudo news story – one of many – proclaims not enough women are in “STEM” fields. This conclusion depends on how you define “STEM” fields. By leaving out many fields of “science”, they are looking primarly at “TE” – technology and engineering only. When all “S” (science) and “M” (math) are included, the discrepancies are not nearly as large. The root issue, though, is that many fields have a dominant gender – but this issue is ignored in favor of focusing exclusively on women in “TE” fields (while pretending this group is “STEM”). For example, about 90% of nurses, which employs millions of workers, are women – yet “health science” is typically excluded from the charts and data tables used to show us that women are not studying “STEM” – because they mean “TE”.

Fear is a powerful motivator in propaganda messaging: How its used to sell third party solar

Fear is a powerful motivator in propaganda messaging: How its used to sell third party solar

Third party companies offer to install solar PV arrays on your home and promise to save you money on your monthly electric utility costs. Bloomberg found they use a mix of false assertions, lies, cherry picking and fear as sales methods, to persuade homeowners to sign up and lease the solar PV system for decades. Over time, the lease costs increase such that the homeowner spends far more in the future, while the third party company collects large government subsidies. Few homeowners understand what they got in to. When they go to sell their home, the lease is transferred to the buyer – in effect, TPO solar PV arrays become a dead weight on the home’s future sales potential, particularly to informed buyers who understand the game.

The headline: “Over half of Americans delay or don’t get health care because they can’t afford it”

The headline: “Over half of Americans delay or don’t get health care because they can’t afford it”

The survey appears to have found that over half of Americans postpone preventative checkups when they are not experiencing any health problems which is different than avoiding seeking care for an active health care problem.

The distinction is that in many health care visits, a patient is experiencing something wrong and visits a provider to hopefully find a solution.

In a preventative check up, a patient goes to a provider and asks the provider to find something wrong with them.