The media continues to drum beat a meme that wildfires are growing every year but the data shows otherwise. Always remember to practice “factfulness”. What we think we know, especially that which we learn from the media and social media, is often incorrect.
Facebook now automatically fact checks online posts from selected sources or on selected topics.
51% of voters under 35 believe human life may be wiped out on earth with in 10 years. This assertion is not supported by any scientific evidence but is a fear created out of thin air by lying, exaggeration, hyperbole by politicians, activists and media propagandists. The result is an induced epidemic of mass anxiety with many now requiring medical care.
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.
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.
The Guardian’s style guides says “climate change” is out and to be replaced by “climate crisis” and “climate emergency”. Both wordings were invented by the Guardian – “crisis” does not appear in the IPCC reports and “emergency” appears only in conjunction with “emergency medical services”. Increasingly dramatic reporting is backfiring and turning people off – a more effective strategy might be to report on the facts and logical arguments.
Two professors took a look at how the media has reported on the topic of climate and found that almost all news reports leave out critical and basic facts about climate. A corollary is that instead of reporting facts and the use of logic that supports anthropogenic climate change, most turn to propaganda methods such as appeal to authority, fear, name calling (“deniers”), get-on-the-bandwagon and so on. Incredibly, as I was writing this post The Nature Conservancy sent an email fundraising solicitation which illustrates the point: the first sentence of the email makes 4 demonstrably false claims to create fear about changes in climate. “Factfulness” teaches us how to detect when we are being misled – this turned out to be classic example of a charitable organization making exaggerated claims not supported by reputable science organizations (IPCC, NOAA, The Royal Society).
This post may be the first of several on how climate communications has been badly bungled by reliance on propaganda methods, rather than sticking with facts and logic.
Factfulness is an important book that opens our eyes to how our views of the world have been skewed, if not corrupted, by poor thinking skills and various groups, including the media, that focus on the negative and often inappropriately generalize small issues into seeming huge problems. The reality, as well documented in this book, is that the world is getting better, often way better – which is surprising when we are buried in negativity all day, every day.
There are many news reports about a growing “epidemic” of transgender murders in the United States. However, the data show a nearly constant trend line from 2015 to 2019. Further, the transgender murder rate, based on the data, is 1/4th to 1/2 that of the overall U.S. population. (It is possible that the underlying data is poor, which the Human Rights Campaign hypothesizes – but news reports calling out an epidemic in the absence of data to support that are not even pseudo news reporting – they are creative fiction writing.)
All murders are wrong, period. Violence and hate are wrong, period.
This post is about news reporting, not the transgender community.
No kidding: “America and its young people live in an age of near-constant bad news. OregonLive, like other news websites, is replete with headlines that stoke young people’s existential fears: stories highlighting climate change, mass shootings, political hate and the like.”
We actually live in the best of times with plummeting global poverty and illiteracy rates, rising incomes and middle income lifestyles that exceed the super wealthy of just 100 years ago. In the U.S., crime, including violent crime, is in a long term declining trend. But you probably do not know this because of the media’s focus on gloom and doom.
News and social media are literally killing our youth via increasing suicide rates as they are flooded with unnecessary fear mongering. The constant negativity is damaging – yet the media will continue down this path even while acknowledging their own role.