On the anxiety inducements of social media and smart phones: “We must be cursed, one would think, to spend so much of our day walking around with our eyes glued to a device that provokes bad feelings.” Ironically, the essay writer ends with two lengthy paragraphs of doom, gloom and negativity and wonders why everyone is gloomy?
In 2017, without warning or recourse, Google shut down all services associated with Salil Mehta, a professor of statistics, editor of a statistics journal, author of a best selling book on statistics, a former Obama administration official and later, a polling statistics adviser to the Trump campaign. His offense? He ran a blog about mathematics! Google, Facebook and Twitter have become the totalitarian governments of the 21st century, stifling speech their algorithms choose to flag. Unlike us peons, Mehta is well connected and a huge outcry caused Google to reinstate his account.
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.
Nice illustration of how easy we can be fooled by numbers: to save gas, do you upgrade your 36 mpg car to a newer 46 mpg car, or do you upgrade your pickup truck from 15 mpg to 18 mpg? You drive both the same amount per year. Most people will select the 10 mpg fuel improvement – but they’ll save twice as much gas if they updated the pick up truck.
News focused on the negative, is overly dramatic, leads us to false conclusions about the world and is largely pointless speculation, fear and dlick-bait headlines designed primarily to attract eyeballs to advertisers. News is also largely a waste of our time, says Psychology Today.
Some great examples of how people make decisions – and conclusions – based on marketing propaganda. Many now choose “almond milk” because production doesn’t produce as much green house gases (notably methane) as produced by dairy milk. Except it takes 6.098 liters (1,611 US gallons) to make 1 liter of almond milk, and most almonds are grown in California which has high variability (e.g. frequent drought) in rainfall. People make supposedly environmentally friendly choices based on incorrect information, limited information, or missing critical context.
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.
Cambridge Analytica tested their propaganda algorithms in smaller social media market countries before unleashing their propaganda campaigns in target countries such as the United States. This enabled CA to optimize their propaganda messaging and targeting to obtain the greatest effectiveness.
Social media is filled with “inspirational quotes” that are often nonsensical gibberish, or as one professor suggests “pseudo profound bullshit” 🙂
Advocacy journalism is a fancy way of saying we like producing propaganda news articles intended to persuade you to adopt our agenda, sometimes with the implied subtext “because we are smarter than you and know what is best”.