Fake News about opioids and the workforce

Powell cited research from Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who conducted a survey and found that 44 percent of men reported that they had taken some form of pain medication the previous day.

Source: Fed’s Powell: Opioids people out of the workforce

Actual study text:

Fully 44 percent of prime age men who were out of the labor force acknowledged taking pain medication on the previous day, although this encompasses a wide range of medications.
Pain medication, per the study, included either prescription or over-the-counter medication, or both.
Since this is about opioids:
Nearly two-thirds of those who took pain medication indicated that they took prescription pain medication
Thus, on any given day, 31 percent of NLF prime age men take pain medication, most likely an opioid-based medication
No data is given to support the “most likely an opiod-based medication” claim.
From 44% of men to 31% of prime age men not-in-the-labor-force.
This chart from the study makes this clear:
Apparently CNBC never read the underlying study, made no attempt to verify the facts or unintentionally or intentionally misconstrued the Fed Chair’s comments. What ever it is, it was terrible reporting.
This “news” works as a propaganda:
  1.  It now appears in a major media outlet which will influence others into believing pain medication is so widespread that 44% of working age men are taking prescription pain medications.
  2.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Fed Chair)
  3.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Princeton economist)
  4.  It uses a “Logical fallacy” (lumping prescription and non-prescription medications together in the top line number of 44%)
  5. It uses “Lies” by leaving out that this refers to men not in the labor force, rather than all men.
There is a wide spread meme sweeping the nation that opioid deaths care caused primarily by abuse of prescription opioid pain medications. Other studies indicate most deaths are due to synthetic, illegally produced and sold drugs on the street and not those prescribed by doctors.
This “news” report by CNBC feeds this propaganda meme.
A separate table (Table 6) presents different data values saying that 57.7% of men aged 25-54 NLF took pain medication yesterday.
According to Table 8, 76.5% of those taking prescription pain medication were part of Medicaid, Medicare or VA/Tricare. About half were on various disability programs (Workmen’s comp, Social Security, VA, Disability insurance).

One can not make this up


The media is putting The Onion out of business!

Text for Indexing

A tape might exist of Trump doing something in an elevator, though exactly where that somewhere is and what that something might be, no one in media can say. That’s because no one in the media seems to have seen the tape – or is even confident it exists

ABC News jumps the gun

ABC News calls the Supreme Court Justice nominee controversial – before they or any of us knew who the nominee would be. ABC News manufactured the “controversial” claim.

Later, ABC back pedaled their news manufacturing problem.

Their thread on Twitter is here.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

Manufacturing negative news about SpaceX’s team delivery of mini-sub

Elon Musk calls out BBC New’s incorrect news report.

The full correspondence may be seen here.

BBC News is well aware of Richard Stanton and his role in the cave rescue. But as is typical, the news had to find “fault” with someone who is voluntarily spending his own money and assigning his own team and delivering a solution, at his own expense and time, to the incident.

The BBC has since rewritten their story.

The media establishment has, for a long time, feasted on bashing Elon Musk. The media runs as a herd, collectively jumping on memes as a group, including memes they themselves have manufactured. Coupled with their preference for negative reporting and combining that with the meme that all billionaires are evil, we end up with a long series of attacks. In effect, its a propaganda campaign to bash Elon Musk; however at this point, the torpedoes have reversed course and are striking journalism instead.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

We may be wrong but he is even “wronger”, or something :)

The adversarial relationship developed into a full scale propaganda war between the Administration and the media.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

[1] Some of the items described in the article were previously confirmed by me, although not necessarily mentioned on this blog. Based on my sample of items that were verified I presume that most of that list is accurate.

Journalism executive creates online news service as click-bait propaganda outlet

NowThis News claims to be in the journalism business, but don’t be fooled.

This click-bait venture, which was founded in 2015 by Huffington Post co-founder Kenneth Lerer, is your basic, run-of-the-mill propaganda outfit. Its real goal is the spread of political agitprop. The twist here is that NowThis disguises itself as a genuine newsroom.

In reality, this site has less in common with the Wall Street Journal, which does actual journalism, than it does with the low-level Resistance grift, which relies on social media to distribute viral, hyper-partisan content to eager left-leaning audiences. In fact, the only real difference between the Resistance grifters and NowThis is that the latter is a full-blown organization, as opposed to a single crank with a Twitter account.

Source: NowThis News is not news; it’s a straight-up propaganda outlet

NowThis is a division of Group Nine, which is targeting young people using mobile devices. They hook their targets with click bait, share-able news reports, which as the link notes, are laced with propaganda.

Started by the co-founder of the Huffington Post, the service aims to leverage a combination of real and manufactured news into share-able social media click bait for fun and profits.

Most “news” is going in this direction – emotionally targeted click-bait, designed for social media sharing, to generate eyeballs for advertisers – and trackable links to learn more about each reader. Hey, everybody does it now!

Fun with statistics: When survey results do not mean what you may think they mean

Gallup poll found that 52% of Americans say they were extremely proud to be American in 2016; 51% in 2017 and 47% in 2016.

Gallup says this is a record low.

Source: In U.S., Record-Low 47% Extremely Proud to Be Americans

At the very, very bottom of the press release, in slightly greyed out type, we read that the results had a sampling error of + or – 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Let’s rewrite the 2016-2018 results in terms of what they actually mean.

  • For 2016, the estimated mean was 52% but the actual population mean could be anywhere from 49% to 55%. They measured 52% by polling a sample of people, its possible that if we polled the entire population we could get a value anywhere from 49% to 55%. We are “95%” confident that our actual population mean lies within that range. Or, stated another way, if we ran this poll 20 times, in 19 out of the 20 surveys, we expect our estimated value to be between 49-55%; and 1 in 20 times, our estimated value would be outside that range.
  • For 2017, the estimated mean was 51% but the actual population mean could have been anywhere from 48% to 54%.
  • For 2018, the estimated mean was 47% but the actual population mean could be anywhere from 44% to 50%.

This is referred to as the margin of error or the confidence interval.

When the confidence interval of one sample overlaps with the confidence interval of another sample, we can not statistically distinguish between them. Statistically, they are equivalent.

Based on the survey data, the best we can say is that statistically, the percent of Americans who were extremely proud to be American has stayed the same (within our poll’s error margin) from 2016 to 2018.

Gallup can say this one poll found the lowest ever and that is pretty much what they are saying. But the public will interpret that result incorrectly. If they had done the same poll – again – on the same days, with a different sample of 1,520 people – they could have also gotten 50%!

During election season, news breathlessly reports that candidate A is ahead of candidate B this week, in a reversal of last week. But in fact, the two candidates are often in a statistical dead heat. We have no idea which one is ahead last week or this week!

The surveys cannot correctly identify the winner when the results are within the margin of error. This is why a poll showing candidate A ahead of B by 51% to 49% is then reversed on election night as candidate B wins with 51% of the vote. Nothing nefarious took place – because statistics!

In reality, we never really knew who was ahead  as the survey may have had a + or – 3 percentage point confidence interval (which is typical)!

Polls are also used extensively in propaganda messaging – opinion polls largely measure the effectiveness of earlier propaganda! Once they show support for a topic, the poll itself becomes a form of “Get on the bandwagon” endorsement. We covered this in a previous post.

Reporter resigns after falsely saying shooter wore a political hat

Berry’s apology came after his earlier controversial tweet, in which he posted an image of the president’s “Make America Great Again” hat and implied that Jarrod Ramos dropped one on The Capital Gazette’s newsroom floor before gunning down five people Thursday. The tweet has been removed.

Berry lamented that his tweet “feeds the warped minds of people who think we wake up every day and try to push an agenda.”

Source: Springfield Republican reporter resigns after tweet about Maryland newspaper gunman – The Boston Globe


False news reports inflame reader emotions and result in an escalating sequence of emotional outrage, increasing social polarization. Nothing good comes from making false claims.

A Reuter’s editor has also apologized for saying the shooting was caused by Trump’s negative comments about the media. (Official statement from Reuters.) An early published report from Reuters weakly linked  Trump’s past “fake news” comments to the shooting, but removed that link from later reports.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

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!