Browsed by
Category: Cherry Picking

How Big Tech uses propaganda methods to control your thoughts

How Big Tech uses propaganda methods to control your thoughts

Google has selected an odd assortment of science “subgroups” to emphasize on its Google News page. This choice, by Google, has ramifications for your attention and perspective on issues – and may even steer you away from learning about other areas of science. In effect, Google News may be operating a subtle propaganda outlet, intentionally steering our attention to topics that Google wants us to see, while steering us away from topics Google would prefer we not see.

Covid-19: The media wants to keep you scared-but it looks like things may be improving

Covid-19: The media wants to keep you scared-but it looks like things may be improving

While too early to tell, it seems that the 3rd wave of Covid-19 may have peaked, nationally, in the past week. There will continue to be regional growth areas, however, as the entire nation does not peak simultaneously. There is much good news at this point – but as the linked fear porn news item illustrates, the media’s sole purpose is to keep you in a frightened state, scared to step outside. As the new cases curve subsides, the media’s attention will focus on hospitalizations and deaths – numbers which lag the new cases peak by 1-4 weeks, typically – while hiding the new cases curve. This is effectively media propaganda intended to keep you scared.

Study used cherry picked data to prove a false conclusion

Study used cherry picked data to prove a false conclusion

A fake study cherry picks the start date of the pandemic to make a false claim that billionaires became far richer due to the pandemic. The actual purpose of the “study” is propaganda messaging using the methods of cherry picking, appeal to authority, and emotion. The errors made are large enough to be treated as lies, as well.

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

Journalism: “Fears of economic recession could derail the holiday shopping season – MarketWatch”

The headline comes from a survey finding consumers are concerned about a future recession. Public opinion polls, particularly when asking people to express an opinion on subjects of which they have neither expert nor first hand knowledge, are primarily measuring the effectiveness of prior propaganda messaging. In this example, 2019 has been filled with a stream of news reports predicting a recession. In fact, these predictions have been underway for years. And they have been wrong – particularly since no one has demonstrated any skill in accurately forecasting future recessions. But they are effective at shaping public opinion, which could result in consumers changing their behavior in ways that reduce economic activity.


The headline story is itself followed by a sequence of upbeat economic news. In fact, 2019 holiday sales are running 15% above the prior year, to date.

Climate communications: “Windfarms kill 10-20 times more than previously thought”

Climate communications: “Windfarms kill 10-20 times more than previously thought”

“Windfarms kill 10-20 times more birds” sounds really scary – until you discover it is less than 1/1000th the number of bird kills caused by cats, crashing into buildings, vehicles and power lines each year. Seems that this item may be advocating against taking steps to reduce CO2-equivalent outputs, but like much propaganda, uses the method of cherry picking to give the target an incomplete picture.

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.