My two cents…again

IMG_0313Yesterday, two of my grandchildren, the youngest boy (Sean) age ten and girl (Joy) age 21 took the ALS ice bucket challenge and posted videos of themselves on Face book.  Meanwhile, the Washington Post poured cold water over the idea in an op-ed piece (‘Myths about ALS’ Outlook section, Sunday 8/25/14).  I don’t care who is right, I think its wonderful youngsters can find a good cause to become excited about.

Meanwhile, the granddaughter most concerned with her looks, posted a note on FB stating she did not like getting her hair wet, so she was making a monetary donation instead.

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 Whenever someone speaks knowingly of the millennial generation as (chose your adjective) I want to scream.  This is not a homogeneous generation.  They are not all alike, just as my generation (WWII babies) were/are not all alike.  People are individuals, not parts of a group.

Okay, I earned my keep as a social scientist, and we love to group (cluster) people and detect patterns of behavior, so we are to blame for all this chatter about “demographic” groups.  I used my skills for purposes of marketing, whether politics or products, and later for the Census Bureau which produces much of the information politicians, pollsters, and pundits like to use and abuse.

One thing that became clear to me over time was that individuals don’t fit neatly into marketing clusters, much to the chagrin of manufacturers of one tale or another. Another thing that became clear was that an ill-informed public is at the mercy of these lies.

There was a time in our history when members of the “lower orders” fought for the right to become literate.  To have access to information, they fought and died to have the Bible translated into their own languages, whether English or German or some other tongue.

The story of the working class in the West, how it pulled itself up, became literate through reading, and established public schools and libraries, is an awesome tale.

These days, many people think the way to acquire information is “look it up on the Internet.”  Unfortunately, many young people are reading scurrilous stories told by wicked people.  Hence the recruitment of ignorant young men into groups of nefarious individuals who have become a worldwide menace.

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But enough of that.  My concerns lie with the purveyors of information who put a twist on much of what they report. That might not matter if they got some things right, which occasionally the odd report does. But how can you know when you are hearing the truth?

Dick Klade (link below – Gabby Geeezer)  wrote recently that he had stopped watching both Fox and MSNBC because they were so slanted in their reporting.  True, some slanting exists in some programs on both networks.  But I must take an exception with certain hosts on Fox, like Chris Wallace (son of Mike) and various reporters who actually “report” the news from the White House, the Pentagon, and other places…some of whom migrated to Fox from CCN or vice versa.

PBS, which I catch most nights, drives me nuts with some of its programming, but hey Judy Woodruff from the News Hour has appeared on Fox in a panel along with Bob Woodward.  George Will, Brit Hume and Charles Krautheimer (PBS and Fox), along with Moira Eliason (PBS) also appear regularly.  And, PBS reporter, Margaret Warner, is in Kurdistan, traveling with the Peshmerga…how brave is that?

I must add CNN to the list of cable networks who report more opinion than news..at times. Especially if it has to do with a sensational case involving race.  I swear, I heard a CNN reporter say “Fergastan” when reporting on the Michael Brown case in MO.

Fergestan?  Come on, enough already.

12 thoughts on “My two cents…again

  1. Well, as I pointed out in my July 18 blog post “Beyond Red and Blue,” according to the Poynter Institute’s Punditfact, some 60 percent of comments made by FOX News hosts and personalities were mostly or outright false, and 46 percent of the punditry made on MSNBC is also mostly or completely false. So I guess we can trust 40 percent of FOX and 54 percent of MSNBC … but which 40 or 54 percent? An organization that calls itself news ought to be able to do better than that. I bet if Punditfact checked out Sightings Over Sixty they’d find it is 90 percent accurate, and if they checked Schmidleyscrribblingss they find it’s 98 percent accurate!

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    • I am always skeptical of so-called ‘fact checkers.’ I suppose I spent too much time in school learning to ‘deconstruct’ “stories..” Our profs told us we were learning how to think critically.

      As for my blog, I strive to be as honest as I can in my writing, but what I write is the truth as far as I know it. Believe me, my professors and fellow students could always argue with me about some point or other depending on how they saw the world (ideology…they were mostly left-wingers) and how they chose their facts.

      You know I am a numbers person, and numbers include some certainty…but not completely..and you understand why. Just take one example…the Baby Boom. Many people think they know what that is, however, it depends on which fertility measurement you use to calculate the end points and determine the shape and size. And is it one group of individuals or three? Marketing people think it is multiple groups based on purchasing choices.

      I was quite disappointed when I realized poetry may make more sense than statistics. I was never good with the first, so I probably over rate it.

      However, all the above said, some people deliberately falsify information..as you know. Simply citing the findings of a study is not good enough. Social scientists like me spend much time during our careers deconstructing ” studies.” Sometimes we get a kick in the teeth for our efforts because it’s easy to shred some one’s research. But it can be wrong headed to do so. The purpose of critical review is to make the study better. That’s the ideal.

      And, I assure you figures don’t lie but liars figure, I used to witness it daily when I was working. Mostly folks spin the story according to their own world view. But we also have the Joseph Goebbels effect. A third problem is over analysis. Too much analysis leads to paralysis…witness the current administration, which talks the talk, but does not walk the walk much of the time…my opinion.

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  2. The BBC is not bad at reporting news, although I prefer continental news channels who tell me more about news from the rest of the world. Mainly Europe, of course, but then Europe is what interests me, so that’s fine with me. The BBC sticks mainly with the UK.

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    • I have access to the BBC as well as foreign networks in Asia , Europe and the Middle East on an International channel. I check out the BBC every day, and the others sporadically. I suppose we are all wired to each other these days.

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  3. I read the news more than watch it on the TV these days. I can’t stand how they sensationalize events which are quite horrifying and repeat them over and over and over again. I don’t tend to believe everything I glean from the TV or the internet but a general census of enough articles from reputable sources will give me an idea of what is going on in the world. On top of that Gregg and I have long discussions about world events. Goodness, can I hope that my brain box is expanding because of it.

    Good for your grandchildren participating in the ALS bucket challenge. I have also read that it is all getting a bit silly but I say the proof is in the pudding, it is making people think beyond themselves and if all that money goes to research which will hopefully one day bring an end to this terrible disease, then I say go for it.

    I had a chuckle at Maxine at the beginning of your post. I was so happy to see my first cup of coffee today.

    Lastly, I do hope you are feeling less pain after your operation and recovery is progressing well? Have a great week.

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    • Thanks Denise. You have a wise approach to gathering the news. Often the word in print reveals detail omitted in sound bites. I too read multiple sources in addition to sound bites here and there. Yes, you can continue to learn until you kick the bucket.

      Coffee…the elixir of life. Doing okay, not out of the woods on pain, but getting there…slowly.

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