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Dependency on external sources of data?

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  • Dependency on external sources of data?

    Originally posted by johneffay
    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on...
    I'd also be interest to hear not just Perssonicus' but other people who have contributed to this thread thoughts on the 'bunker mentality' that causes each of us to either accept or reject specific sources of information out of hand.

    Note: This might deserve it's own thread, so John should feel free to split this post off as need be, so we don't muddy the waters of the present thread topic.
    [EDIT by johneffay - I think you're right David, so I have split it.]

    For myself, I know I have a national bias towards accepting most of what the BBC reports are being - in good faith - accurate (as opposed to necessarily True), whereas I tend to view (what little I see of) Fox News as propagandist pap. I have an inclination to treat UN reports are basically trustworthy because (perhaps naively) I tend to be 'pro' the UN.

    I generally think there a source like, say, the Iraq Body Count project (IBC) that is criticized by pro-Western ideologues for overcounting the civilian body count and by anti-war ideologues for undercounting the same is probably getting it about right. (I have the same rationale for the BBC, which has been attacked variously by the Tories for being pro-Labour and by Labour for being pro-Conservative.) I can see why it's not unreasonable to suppose that the Iraqi Government has a vested interest in minimising the number of casualties, without immediately dismissing their count out of hand. Likewise, the criteria for The Lancet's estimate of 100,000 deaths seems a little 'woolly' to me (not being a statistician) without necessarily causing me to dismiss their findings out of hand (because as I say I'm not a statistician).

    I know I would sooner trust a news report in The Independent newspaper more than I would the same in The Sun but I wouldn't dismiss a report it's Murdoch Empire stablemate The Times either, even though it is diametric politically to The Indy. I have no reason to suppose that the LA Times is in anyway an untrustworthy source, but perhaps someone from LA can elucidate?

    To take this discussion slightly further afield, I would argue that I'm anti-Bush but not anti-American in precisely the same way as I can be anti-Blair without being anti-British. It is interesting to me that criticism of the White House can be considered as being unpatriotic (or 'anti-American') as though no dissent from the status quo can be tolerated. I find that attitude more than somewhat fascist, which considering that more than one person has highlighted the fascist tendencies inherent in Islamism (as opposed to Islam) is certainly ironic imo.
    Last edited by David Mosley; 01-17-2007, 04:21 AM.
    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

  • #2
    Thta's the frustrating part of being alive and conscious in the 21st Century. We have access to a wealth of information, unimaginable to past generations, but we still don't know if it's The Truth... or if there even is a "The Truth". Even if we arranged a small sortie over to Iraq to have a look for ourselves... well, it would take a lifetime just to unravel what was going on in one city, and by the time we'd figured it out, everything would have changed...

    It would be impossible for any source, or any assortment of sources, to ever provide us with the Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. My hope is that in the final moments before Death, it's all explained to us, and we can go "Ah... now I get it!", but until then we have to make do with the information networks we have in place. In theory Blogs are a huge help, but only if you have time to read them all. Even when something is pretty much established FACT at the time it occurs, later generations can romanticise it (as happens, for example when Presidents pop their clogs) so that future generations end up even more confused. It's hard enough to follow what's going on in our own times, let alone what happened during the Nixon administration. He stole some hotel towels, right? Something like that...

    To be honest I tend to avoid the News, because of this frustration... it's that weird sort of wound-up "Apathy"... I want to change something, I'm just not sure what or how, and there's no solid intell to work from, so I end up following my gut... or the horoscopes!

    Er... that didn't add much to the debate, did it? Oh wait, there's a smiley that would have said all the above much more succinctly:

    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

    Comment


    • #3
      I used to read the LA Times semi-religiously (among other things, their crossword is second-best only to the NY Times' Sunday crossword) until the advent of the internet, when most news services went online. My favored news sources are CNN.com for the soundbite news, the Times for a little more depth and others for even more depth. Those might include (on any given day) The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, PBS' Jim Lehrer News Hour, occasional reruns of The MacLaughlin Group (always good for a few chuckles), etc.

      Factually, I can't say I fault the Times (though the selection of their stories is, umm...another story), but as mentioned above, Garbage In, Garbage Out is the rule of the day.

      I think I have a national bias only because of the bias of the national news, so to speak; since they're not likely to be interested in internal politics in Britain, for instance, our news services tend to air subjects more oriented toward the USA (and generally more interesting to their average viewer, who lives in the US). For example, it's not highly likely that an MP standing from Pagglesham would be a very sellable story to NBC News, unless somehow there was some kind of world impact involved. (Btw, is there really a Pagglesham, other than in the script from Heaven Can Wait?)

      The point of that last rambling paragraph was that US news sites/services will tend to have a US-centric view of the news, whereas ones in Britain will be oriented toward a British-centric view.
      Last edited by Sailor on the Seas of Freight; 01-28-2007, 02:25 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I recall a discussion of the media from some years ago where the point was made that most people only seek out information from sources that will support their already developed beliefs.

        Consequently, I tend to seek out news sources from the public broadcasting arena (Australian ABC, BBC, PBS etc) and from "the Left" - Mother Jones, The Guardian, Noam Chomsky etc.

        However, as I have a (somewhat geekish) interest in military history, I also visit a number of web sites such as Parameters (the US Army War College periodical), Jane's, etc. Quite often these journals have political views at variance to my own (though - sometimes surprisingly - not always), but provide technical data which I can then interpret through my own filters....
        Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
        Bakunin

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
          That's the frustrating part of being alive and conscious in the 21st Century. We have access to a wealth of information, unimaginable to past generations, but we still don't know if it's The Truth... or if there even is a "The Truth". Even if we arranged a small sortie over to Iraq to have a look for ourselves... well, it would take a lifetime just to unravel what was going on in one city, and by the time we'd figured it out, everything would have changed...

          What troubles me, Dee, is that decisions are made on what seems to be the truth, whereby unverified information gets the quality of truth. Whole wars are started on onesided or even fabricated "truth", nuns are murdered because of interpretations of what the Pope might have said etc.
          Google ergo sum

          Comment


          • #6
            too much info kills info .....

            The informations are not hierarchised by degree of importance and truthfullness ....

            The result is that the media and the net give equivalent coverage to islamist guilt in 09/11 and to the complot theory, some pretending that there were no crash !

            And, after, the two are viewed as serious and meriting to be debated as ideas equal in value !

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by L'Etranger
              What troubles me, Dee, is that decisions are made on what seems to be the truth, whereby unverified information gets the quality of truth. Whole wars are started on onesided or even fabricated "truth", nuns are murdered because of interpretations of what the Pope might have said etc.
              The other troubling "trend" is the speed at which people expect decisions to be made. Two hundred years ago diplomacy took place at the pace of sail. Decisions could be considered at an appropriate pace. This also meant that your diplomats were (hopefully) highly skilled and had considerable latitude for making local decisions.

              These days, the mere fact that an email can be sent around the planet in a couple of seconds creates the unrealistic expectation that replies to such can be made immediately. This generates an environment where there is huge pressure to make "instant" decisions. Unfortunately, with instant decisions there is little time for "reasoned debate" or even serious evaluation.
              Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
              Bakunin

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Groakes
                The other troubling "trend" is the speed at which people expect decisions to be made. Two hundred years ago diplomacy took place at the pace of sail. Decisions could be considered at an appropriate pace. This also meant that your diplomats were (hopefully) highly skilled and had considerable latitude for making local decisions.

                These days, the mere fact that an email can be sent around the planet in a couple of seconds creates the unrealistic expectation that replies to such can be made immediately. This generates an environment where there is huge pressure to make "instant" decisions. Unfortunately, with instant decisions there is little time for "reasoned debate" or even serious evaluation.
                Good Sir, your injection uttered here demands scrutiny, consideration and a well-tempered response. But ere we settle on a result fruitfull to either side's interest, kindly enlighten me, Sir, WHAT IS AN EMAIL?

                Your humblest Servant
                L von Etranger

                Last edited by L'Etranger; 01-25-2007, 05:40 AM.
                Google ergo sum

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by L'Etranger
                  What troubles me, Dee, is that decisions are made on what seems to be the truth, whereby unverified information gets the quality of truth.
                  By a strange co-inky-dink, my horoscope for today agrees:

                  "Repairing matters is a great idea, but you have to know what needs fixing first. Before you rush in there with your toolbox, really examine the situation from all sides. It might not be what you originally thought."

                  I don't suppose Bush is a Gemini too, is he?

                  Without wishing to cross threads, it has been interesting to see what people actually said in the Big Brother house, and how it was written up on Wiki and in the newspapers. It's proven to me that it's possible to report what happened, but still misrepresent the *spirit* of what happened, out of context. And that was a TV show that millions of people saw with their own eyes. Goodness knows what happens with stories that only had a few first-hand witnesses.

                  I wonder if the quality of intell actually matters to the sort of people who want to slap "reality TV" contestants in the streets, or drop bombs on other countries. Would they do it anyway?

                  I'm still bitter about the WMD's, having written a stern e-mail to my MP about them (this was pre-"liberation")... the reply assured me that Iraq definitely did have WMD's, but even if they didn't then Saddam was still a bad, bad man. Clearly my MP hadn't read the same issue of 'New Scientist' that I had, which predicted pretty much everything that's actually happened. I'd suggest employing telepaths, ala Philip K. Dick, but as we all know from those stories, there's no such thing as a perfect system...
                  Last edited by DeeCrowSeer; 01-25-2007, 05:06 AM.
                  "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you read any news source closely you will see there is a lot of sloppy reporting, the Beeb is prone to this. One case which springs to mind is the team of climbers who left a guy to die alone while he went on to reach the summit of Everest. A BBC report did not make it clear the climbers were not members of the same team :

                    Were they right to leave him behind?
                    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5016536.stm

                    the full story

                    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...es/5010348.stm

                    The impression created in the first article is very different to the second, and yet the first article is the one that is supposedly inviting a debate. We discussed this issue on another forum where some members who knew a lot about climbing included facts & issues the Beeb ignored :

                    http://www.crisscross.com/forum/m_79.../tm.htm#791960

                    A less serious case was a guy over here in Japan, the subject of this :

                    Faking it as a priest in Japan

                    But Mr Kelly argues that the ceremony is not about religion, but about image.

                    "I give a good performance. I use an Apache wedding prayer in my ceremony. It works very well, although I had to take out the part about the bear god in the sky," he said.

                    "If people are crying by the end of the wedding, I think I have done a good job."
                    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6067002.stm

                    We discussed this on the same forum posted above with the gentleman concerned, the slant the reporter put the article was nothing like the interview he gave, and it ended up costing him his job.

                    Reading major news websites closely you will find numerous small mistakes, a soldier who refused active duty in Iraq was said to have served already in Iraq by one site, though another had him in Afghanistan.

                    So I see two problems, selective reporting & selective reception on the one hand, compounded by sloppy reporting & skim reading on the other.
                    http://final-frame-final.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Reading major news websites closely you will find numerous small mistakes...
                      You will also find - at least in the case of the BBC - a feedback feature to allow web readers to "point out an error in spelling or punctuation or highlight a factual inaccuracy". I've used this on several occasions where I detected an inaccuracy in a BBC web report or article, and I have to say that each time the web page has been updated later in accordance with my comment.

                      The style of BBC web reports is to be very 'punchy' and brief, while getting the 'facts' across. It's not supposed to be in-depth reporting of the kind you get in the print media or even on TV. It's like "just the facts, ma'am". This may mean that details might not be spelled out explicitly. In your example of the first BBC article (which, contrary to your post, wasn't a "news report" but a 'opinion piece' by a "a medical ethicist", thus not a BBC journalist - hence it's not 'lazy journalism' - it isn't essential to understand whether the 41 climbers on the mountain were or weren't part of the same group, or many different groups or 41 individuals. The point of the article is to ask were any of the 40 climbers right to abandon the 1 dying one?

                      (For what it's worth, my take on the phrase 'the 39 other climbers who passed him [by]' is to put me in mind of the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the Priest and the Levite pass by the man attacked by robbers and only the Samaritan stops to help him. In a discussion about ethics it seems a not unreasonable association to make, although it does depend upon having some biblical knowledge of course.)

                      So I see two problems, selective reporting & selective reception on the one hand, compounded by sloppy reporting & skim reading on the other.
                      I see one solution: if you notice a mistake in a news website you should inform the webmaster (cf. BBC feedback feature). You might argue 'why should I have to waste time correcting the mistakes of professional journalists?', but that's rather the point? Why should any of us do anything? Because it's the "right thing" to do? Remember, to err is human. (Which applies equally to reporters and readers. )
                      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess I'll concede it wasn't lazy journalism, despite being on a website labeled "BBC News", linked from the BBC top page as "News". Auntie Beeb at its patronising best, biased impartial opinion. Which raises the issue of where does the "news" become opinion.

                        One issue journalists are raising is how language has become a way of controlling opinion. In the West Bank the Israelis are called "settlers", this evokes nice cuddly little house on the prairie type connotations. If they were called "occupiers", "invaders", "immigrants" or perhaps "armed squatters" our impression would be very different. This language manipulation runs right through the reporting of the middle east conflict. You can correct them on a factual error, but can you go through an article with a fine comb and pick up all the little nuances, or is that a thought crime ?

                        PS For a climber there is a huge difference if he or she is a member of the group or not, above 7500 metres it is all anyone can do to keep themselves alive, looking after someone foolish enough to attempt a solo climb is not just a question of compassion, it entails risking ones own life to accomodate someone who took an unreasonable risk with their own.
                        http://final-frame-final.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by zilch
                          PS For a climber there is a huge difference if he or she is a member of the group or not, above 7500 metres it is all anyone can do to keep themselves alive, looking after someone foolish enough to attempt a solo climb is not just a question of compassion, it entails risking ones own life to accomodate someone who took an unreasonable risk with their own.
                          Wasn't the point of the 'Opinion' piece? That the climbers who passed by didn't necessarily commit a 'moral wrong'?

                          Auntie Beeb at its patronising best, biased impartial opinion.
                          With respect, that sounds like you've got an axe to grind with the BBC.

                          I suppose NEWSpapers should only contain news as well then, right?
                          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The difference is the BBC is a state funded institution, a newspaper is a commercial enterprise that caters to a specific political grouping who can choose whether to not to pay for it. You expect an editorial in a newspaper to be slanted to its readership, but the beeb is paid for by compulsory licence fees. A state funded "editorial" can only be establishment propaganda.

                            Another very revealing headline is their "Quick guide: Violence in Iraq".
                            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6083200.stm

                            You can have a quick guide to restaurants in Brighton, but I find the phrasing when dealing with a catastrophy on the scale of Iraq rather insulting. I see this as the result of a shallow approach to their function.

                            Another problem with the beeb is the rise of the infomercial, articles which are thinly disguised promotional pieces, the constant attention paid to Apple's products is an obvious example, same for Xbox, Playstation & Nintendo.
                            http://final-frame-final.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by zilch
                              The difference is the BBC is a state funded institution, a newspaper is a commercial enterprise that caters to a specific political grouping who can choose whether to not to pay for it. You expect an editorial in a newspaper to be slanted to its readership, but the beeb is paid for by compulsory licence fees. A state funded "editorial" can only be establishment propaganda.
                              So, without wishing to get argumentative about this - since the aim of this thread is to examine these entrenched views we all have - are you saying that - in your view - the BBC is basically the propaganda wing of the British Government? That somehow Tony Blair has a direct input into the BBC's output?

                              Or do you just object to paying the licence fee - which I'm guessing you mightn't do if you live in Tokyo?
                              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                              Comment

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