Never leave a reporter, alone, in a room, with a number

One of the wealthiest and most influential families in the world, the banking dynasty was founded in the 1760s. Because the family’s wealth is private, it’s difficult to ascertain its net worth – estimates range all the way up to a staggering $700 trillion, split between legions of descendants. The philanthropic clan has interests in real estate, art and wine.

The World’s Richest Families’ staggering wealth

According to Credit Suisse, the total wealth in the world in 2017 was $280 Trillion.

Snopes also demolishes this absurd news report from MSN.

Remember, the way to address accusations of fake news is to … create more fake news? Hello?


Political propaganda drops all pretense of logical thinking #ACA #ObamaCare #MedicareForAll

“Faithfully executed, as the Constitution requires, the ACA was working and insurance markets were stable” – Andy Slavitt, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2015-2016.

During the period from 2014 to 2016, the average premium went up by 106% according to the CMMS, and in 3 states average premiums went up by over 200%. This, he says, is a “stable” market. And he was in charge during most of that time frame. Prices continued to rise at similar rates in 2017 and 2018.

The AP reports:

Of course – a very stable market requires ever increasing government subsidies while premiums rise at astronomical rates. Not.

This column in USA Today works as propaganda rather easily through the use of

  • Appeal to Authority (Slavitt)
  • Asserting things are true, that clearly are not. Which is just another form of lying.
  • Logical fallacy, “the ACA was working and the markets were stable”.
  • Censorship, by leaving out the writer’s relevant past experience.
  • The target’s quick acting System 1 thinking style that avoids details and misses the logical fallacies used in the proponent’s arguments.

The USA Today column mentions Slavitt’s involvement with CMMS but omits his full history. Once you learn of his past history, your perspective of his comments may change. What do you think?

Slavitt left a job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs to become CEO of a company named Ingenix, a subsidiary of United Healthcare. Under his leadership, Ingenix was sued, twice, for creating fraudulent data used in health care billing and paid $400 million in settlements. Slavitt, who led the fraud scheme, was appointed to head CMMS and implementation of the ACA. Ingenix changed its name after the settlements – and Slavit was put in charge of CMMS where he regulated his past employer which is a conflict of interest prohibited by the Federal government. However, the Obama Administration issued an “Ethics Waiver”, waiving its conflict of interest rules and permitting Slavitt to head CMMS anyway.


Not only was the ACA not working due to how the Act was written, the ACA is not sustainable. I wrote a paper on the subject that was read by staff at the Oregon Health Authority, numerous Oregon state legislators, health care industry executives and economists and was, in part, influential in changing Oregon State law to partially fix the definitely not stable ACA markets here. To learn more, please read my paper.

Proponents who say the ACA is “working” and “stable” are simultaneously advocating “repeal and replace” the ACA:

Logically, why is it necessary to repeal and replace a government program that is “working” and “stable”?

The propaganda efforts by Slavitt are perplexing. Presumably he is trying to buttress his past association with the ACA. But he is doing so through the use of lies while supporters simultaneously say it should be repealed and replaced. There is a logical disconnect here.

Fake comments too? How everything is fake on the Internet

This blog has commented in the past on the problem of fake reviews all over the Internet. Fake reviews are used to make a product sound better or sometimes to make a competitor’s product sound awful. It is difficult to rely on Amazon product reviews, for example, because for many products, an overwhelming number of reviews are fake. Web sites like help people identify products that are flooded with fake reviews.

I rarely look at YouTube comments but just looked at comments on a video by a prominent YouTube reviewer. It looked like almost all of the comments were bogus – literally posting a few words of near nonsense that added nothing to the discussion. Seems they are trying to get visibility for themselves in hopes that a few people will click on their YouTube ID and then pick up more views or subscribers. A few comments even ask the reader to check out their channel.

The high prevalence of fake stuff on the Internet is turning the Internet in to something far less than what we all envisioned 10 or 20 years ago.

Today, the primary business model of the Internet is surveillance for the purpose of producing targeted advertising to get you to buy something or adopt someone else’s agenda.

Part 7: We should all be like Denmark, remember?

Occupy Democrats is an online, social media-based, for profit publisher of emotion laden political propaganda posters targeting those who view themselves as left wing.

In 2016, Occupy Democrats used social media to distribute this propaganda through shares and likes.

Every claim on this widely distributed and shared poster is essentially false – or two that are highly misleading at best (see links below for excruciating details.)

Note their last item:

SHARE if America should follow their lead!

Occupy Democrats wants the U.S. to be like its fantasized version of Denmark.

The poster, however, left out other attributes of Denmark. For example,

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.

Source: In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’ – The New York Times

That sounds as bad as separating immigrant families at the border, as has been done in the U.S. and which Occupy Democrats is strongly opposed to.

Denmark bans Muslim women from wearing a niqab or burka in public, and if they do, they are subject to a 1,000 kroner fine.

Denmark also has the 2nd highest use of anti-depressant medication in the EU, the highest rate of violence against women in the EU, and until recently, one of the highest suicide rates in the world. This in a country said to be the happiest on earth.

The original poster was highly effective propaganda as it appealed to its target audience and works primarily through the propaganda methods of assertion, and lying, with an encouragement to “Get on the Bandwagon”.

When we see the full picture – the original claims being wrong – and further information about Denmark, does Occupy Democrats really want the U.S. to be more like Denmark and to separate children from their families for indoctrination, to ban Muslim women from wearing certain clothing? Apparently so.

This new information about Denmark illustrates how the poster’s propaganda success used “What you see is all there is” psychology – only showing you the attributes they want you to see. This is the method of “cherry picking” or the flip side of that, censorship.

Finally, “Share if…” is a form of “Get on the bandwagon” – because everyone is doing this.

The above poster was one of the most widely shared propaganda posters I saw in 2016, illustrating the incredible power of propaganda messaging to influence people to adopt viewpoints and actions that are not based in truth or logic.

Analysis of the Occupy Democrats Poster

The main purpose of social media is to spread disinformation?

Is the main purpose of social media to spread disinformation? Sure seems so, whether intentional or unintentional.

Yesterday, our local Sheriff’s Office spread disinformation on Twitter with a goal of encouraging safe driving (definitely approve that!) But they did so by using a logical fallacy linking bike and pedestrian accidents to cellular phone usage, a conclusion that is false per the reference they cited in their tweet.

Because viewers of the tweet learned something that was not true, viewers became dumber by reading the message!

On Facebook, a “friend” shared a poster with a quote from a CEO saying he did not want those who voted for a candidate to shop at his stores. Of course, he did not actually say what was in the poster. Yet none of the people in the FB thread bothered to investigate whether the quote was true or not – they accepted it without question – which only reinforced the message! That left viewers of the post dumber than before they had seen it 🙂 Indeed, I posted a link to Snopes and the only reply to that was that Snopes=CNN, therefore, the correct information presented, is not true (which is a logical fallacy unto itself).

Today, I saw this item on Twitter:

It’s true that the Democrat Governor of Montana vetoed “direct primary care” bills – twice, in fact. The last veto was in early 2017.  However, in December 2017, the state’s insurance regulator went ahead and approved direct primary care offerings and there are now direct primary care medical practices in Montana.

But those who see and share the above tweet will conclude that DPC is not allowed in Montana. This illustrates how very old information lives on forever on social media. A side effect is that people become dumber by viewing social media!

These are 3 examples from the past 2 days. Obviously, there are many thousands of such examples every day.

Social media usage makes us dumber every day!

Political misinformation is harder to correct than health misinformation – especially among the educated

We have covered this phenomena before. The first information people receive, even if subsequently proven to be incorrect, is what stays in people’s minds. This is one of the reasons that propaganda based on lies is often successful. It is very hard to refute erroneous propaganda statements.

New research indicates that corrections have a moderate influence on belief in misinformation. ….“The alarming growth of misinformation and the limited repercussions for non-institutional actors for knowingly or unknowingly misleading the public turned misinformation and its correction to one of the most pressing issues in the social sciences,” said study author Nathan Walter, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.


Walter found evidence that corrections had a moderate effect on counteracting misinformation. However, misinformation about politics was harder to correct than misinformation about health, particularly among participants who were well-educated political partisans.


“Realistically speaking, however, the results are also somewhat alarming because scientific and political misinformation is much harder to debunk, interventions outside the laboratory tend to produce weak effects and, as time passes, people seem to forget about the correction and remember the misinformation,” Walter explained.

Source: Political misinformation is harder to correct than health misinformation – especially among the educated

News: They don’t care about accuracy

Clarke, club president of CARE, said his interest is transmitting using LP or “low power” apparatus. John Laybourne, vice president of the Rogue Valley Amateur Radio Club, used a high-power 10,000 watt setup needing a gas-powered generator for the off-the-grid event.

Source: In era of Wi-Fi and LTE, ham radio enthusiasts don’t mind a challenge | The Columbian

Depending on license class, band and geographic location, the limits are 5 watts, 50 watts, 200 watts or 1,500 watts peak-envelope-power, not 10,000 watts. See FCC Regulations 97.313.  I suspect the reporter confused the use of a 10 kw gasoline generator’s maximum output capability with a transmitter’s output and no one bothered to fact check the story.

What explains this sloppiness? They are causing tremendous harm to themselves. The best way to respond to accusations of “fake news” is to double down on accuracy and not  ramp up sloppy reporting.

The sole purpose of social media is mass manipulation

At a prior meeting, Turnbull told the reporters: “Our job is to really drop the bucket further down the well than anybody else to understand what are these really deep-seated fears, concerns. “It is no good fighting an election campaign on the facts, because actually it is all about emotion.”

Source: Cambridge Analytica Stage-Managed Kenyan President’s Campaigns: UK TV | Top News | US News

The most powerful tool in the propagandists tool kit is fear.

The sole purpose of social media is as a propaganda platform for the purpose of mind control and mass manipulation.

Nonsense: “Social Media Firms Got Played by Russian Agents”

Indictment shows how Facebook and Twitter got seriously played by Russian agents.

Source: Indictment: Social Media Firms Got Played by Russian Agents | Business News | US News

More media nonsense. Facebook and Twitter were not “played”. Their basic design and business model makes an idealized platform for the dissemination of propaganda from everyone. Twitter actually solicited RT to run an ad campaign during the U.S. election. Neither Facebook nor Twitter was “played” by Russian agents. Facebook and Twitter were both doing exactly what they are designed to do.

The news article even contradicts the subheading, quoted above, which notes their business incentives (or model) “don’t necessarily align” with fixing the problem. Duh?


Social media viral meme: 18 school shootings since January 1?

According to the Washington Post, the number is fake. It was spread on social media as propaganda from a non-profit organization.

Source: No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong. – The Washington Post

This post is not about pro-gun or anti-gun issues but about the use of social media for propaganda efforts.

A number originating from a non-profit sounds legitimate – but its actually using the “Appeal to Authority” form of argument combined with lying.

Within a short time interval, this fake claim spread rapidly on social media and became a “fact” that professional news reporters picked up and reported.  Once a fake “fact” is published by the professional news services, others will then use that as verification that the claim is true.

From a propaganda effectiveness perspective, this gets an A grade.

It is perplexing why the group chose to exaggerate their count as there are sufficient numbers of shootings to make their point without resorting to being misleading. One would think being misleading would lead to subsequent distrust.

However, remember that in propaganda messaging, the first message people hear is the one that “sticks” – even if subsequently shown to be untrue or misleading. This is why this technique – exaggeration or misleading information – is very effective as a form of propaganda.

When combined with social media sharing, false claims can be widely distributed to the point they turn into “facts” that stick in the mind of the target.

Update: From the comments to the WaPo article, many suggest its okay to be misleading if it leads to someone’s desired conclusion. Or something.