Fake news. All the rage these days. By now, many of you have shared an article, blog, etc on your Facebook page which spouted ridiculous things. Because you read it on the internet, it must be true! Because CNN posted it, it must be true!
5 years ago, if CNN posted something, I’d bet it was as close to fact as you can get. Those days are gone. And I know what half of you are thinking – that I’m some evil Darth Vader Republican out to besmirch the good name of CNN. For those of you who haven’t been following me on here long, I was a lifelong moderate democrat that switched to republican about a year ago – after watching/listening to CNN for 10 years or so straight. So Faux News did not brainwash me…I woke up from the Matrix that was CNN….
The problem is, I have some education and work experience in the statistics field. This is where I started my path of questioning things. The biggest problems you are going to find today are what’s called “framing”. Framing is when an institution (or person) has an agenda, and they frame questions or write surveys in such a way that should get results they are looking for. They then use these statistics to bolster their arguments. Let me give you an example…
Sample question – “do you agree with murdering babies” is one way of asking the question. The same question can then also be asked, “do you agree with men making laws to enslave women and creating legislation to own their bodies?”. Finally…the same question can be asked as, “do you identify as pro choice or pro life”…
Often, questions like this more and more are being posed to people in a slanted way and being used by major news outlets to bolster their agendas, whatever they are. What has happened?
- Media ownership. Media over the last 5-10 years have been bought/sold/consolidated so only a few owners/companies own ALL of the media. Furthermore, these larger corporations are partnered with/endorse/or operate with a more liberal agenda.
- Society mores. In the last 10 years or so, our culture has moved more towards a “do not offend anyone” society. When newspapers/magazines write articles or say things that offend people, they are sued or lambasted on social media by organized groups who try to control what people are allowed to think. This has placed media in positions where none of them say things like “Merry Christmas” anymore, but have to say “Happy Holidays” because corporate comes out and tells you that’s what you have to say. So more and more our society has been told what we are allowed to think – and if we don’t think that way, we will be shouted down or labeled something horrible. I have friends in most religions, and well…why wouldn’t I tell my devout Christian friend “Merry Christmas” or my Jewish friend “Happy Hanukkah”?
- Clickbait. While I have friends on my facebook defending news institutions to the death (and some are still bastions of integrity), the vast majority of media empires are being brought to their knees by the change in how news is consumed. 10 years ago, you’d go to the store, buy a newspaper, read tons of articles that might present different takes on the same thing by different brilliant authors, then you talked over the water cooler or dining room table. Today….well….print media has had to gut their staffs. They now compete with what’s called “Click bait” – which are news articles linked by friends or family with salacious headlines you cannot NOT look at. Today, the internet advertisement models are geared on how many clicks you have. So – money is following where people “click”, and less and less people (more than ever) are not picking up newspapers anymore. Often, newspapers have to rely on somewhat misleading stories or headlines to draw in readers. For me, the death knell of CNN was reporting on Buzzfeed’s Trump Golden shower saga. Instead of trying to source the story better – all they did was say, “Buzzfeed is reporting…” which then tries to not only pass on garbage shit to you, but whilst not accepting any responsibility for the inaccuracy of the story. To me, this was way over the line of journalistic integrity.
- Twitter. If any of you read my blogs, you probably have surmised that I’m not on twitter. Our society is more and more into 140 character or less discussions. I’m surprised if 10 percent of you that clicked on this blog have made it this far. Our patience has waned. We no longer deal with the persuasive essays of brilliant deductive logic – but tend to side with the side who presents the more brilliant peacock feathers during a skirmish. This is how we have Donald Trump as president. The mass majority of this country don’t have time or the appetite to dive deep and think for themselves – they succumb to peer pressure, group think, or just got lazy with checking their facts.
- Laser focus on issues that really aren’t as bad as they say – for ratings. You used to hear, “if it bleeds, it leads”. Well, I watched CNN for 10 years. It was getting to a point where the mass shootings were happening every week, and CNN would have round the clock coverage on them. Laser focus. After every event, they marched out the experts and pundits, talked about gun control measures, then you would have people lecturing you about the need for more gun control, then the president and key law makers would grab camera time and grill republicans over it. And what happened? Guys like me started getting informed – and seeing that they were essentially using media rhetoric to force an agenda on me, rather than presenting facts. This is where it went downhill for them. Then you start to see the numbers, and the legislation they want is mostly already there. It started to really look like a gun grab. One of my more militant leftist friends started going off the reservation on facebook calling everyone I know “pussies” for owning a gun, and demanding everyone turn in their guns. I’m like…”my wife deals with bad people every day and carries a gun for her job”….to which he had no real response other than to tell me that when bad guys break into his house, he will be waiting with a baseball bat. Note: when the end of times come, his house is ripe for goods.
So you are now essentially told how to think by mass media. You have right leaning, you have left leaning, you have strong left, and strong right. There really isn’t much if any center anymore – and if you really believe that, you are framing these stories to suit your personal agendas. So I used to listen to NPR with my wife on our way to New York. They have a LOT of great segments that have nothing to do with politics. However, I noticed this past year, 90-95% of the political rhetoric was pro-Hillary. Now, in years’ past, I wouldn’t have taken notice of this, but since I turned off CNN, I have noticed a lot of these “unbiased” stations are indeed very left. And, the Donald proposed de-funding public broadcasting. Many of you lashed out against this as he is once again Hitler. But I’ll tell you something, it makes me extremely uncomfortable that public money goes towards an outlet that is stated as “unbiased” but is very leftist.
Furthermore, you now see a lot of “studies” that say this or that….and if you look under the hood, you find these studies are being funded or written to suit a certain agenda. Recently, I was pointed towards a “paper” on immigration that tried to tell you that if you deported all illegal immigrants, that it would result in 2.4 million homes being vacated and a GDP loss over 10 years at 2.4 trillion. So, instead of looking at just the executive summary, I read the whole damn thing. Some of it was good information, like the number of illegals that got college degrees – and should have skills we need. Other parts of it though were written in a clearly bias manner and this undermines the efficacy of any argument. What you WANT TO DO is post neutral data, and then form conclusions based on the data. YOU DON’T START WITH THE CONCLUSION and frame your argument to support that. That is not an academic paper, it’s a persuasive essay masked to looked like an academic discussion. To be clear, they are different. For example, the “research paper” claimed that Donald Trump’s assertion that 3 million illegals had committed a crime was “wildly inaccurate”. Indeed, a GAO report showed that 2.8 million immigrants were arrested over a 7 year period – 25,000 for murder and 69,000 for sexual assault. “All of them are good people” is not accurate. “Many of them are good and decent people” is a far fairer argument, but you see quotes of “99% of illegals” are peaceful, quiet people. Again, more stat juking to make you believe someone’s agenda. Read the GAO report. These are not extrapolated stats, they are real numbers.
So the left has been trying to use stats and “fake research” to scare you into not wanting to deport people. It’s playing on your emotions rather than factual numbers the GAO put out. My point is, the “research paper” lost ALL CREDIBILITY when I was able to crush their lack of “research” in 5 seconds. The paper glossed over all dangers posed by illegal immigrants and painted this picture where Mad Max would happen if we deported them. My questions, instead, were…”how the fuck do illegal aliens get mortgages and drivers licenses”. It goes on and on, and even today you hear things about illegals voting in elections.
“No way it’s 3 million”.
Well, it happens. Once again, start googling this. I would not contend it’s 3 million…but do you know exactly how many? The left wants you to think it’s racist to ask people to identify themselves to vote. The problem is, if I had to bet, 99% of illegals would not be voting for Trump. So, it’s in their best interest to not look into this. A friend of mine linked a story BY THE AP that stated that it couldn’t be more than 6% of illegals that voted. Great. AP glossed over this. There’s 11 million illegals, right? That’s 600,000? Florida, the 4th most populated state, was won by Bush in 2000 by 800 votes. What if 20,000 illegals voted for Gore in Florida? What if Gore had won by 800 votes? Could you have then seen that illegals contributed to a Democrat winning?
My point is – major news agencies are completely glossing over real serious numbers and telling you “nothing to see here folks” – when the truth is, we do have many thousands of illegals voting, and 99% of that population would be voting for one candidate’s party. This then, in a sense, becomes an invasion. One party wants to make all 11 million of these people citizens. Guess what, you need to be a citizen to vote. Today, we have American citizens who voted in Republicans in the presidency, senate, and house. And if all 11 million of these were made citizens – it would be democrat for all three branches of government.
So, you see….that “research paper” is part of an argument to turn everything from red to blue….and without questioning their methods, stats, and assumptions – people like you believe it. I have written over 70 graduate papers and read well over 1,000 in my 6 years in graduate school. I took apart the paper, and guess what? I’m then labeled in peoples’ minds a xenophobic. Anti-immigration. It’s just. not. true. I am trying to point out that one group’s arguments are weak, manipulative, and wrong…and just like the climate stats, below….I get shouted down because my logical arguments do not mesh with their emotional agenda.
So what happened to me?
Coming into 2014-2015, I was for Hillary, but I had some questions about her. I felt her qualifications were excellent. Then, Donald got into the race and his loose lips and no teleprompter speeches drew me in. I decided, for the FIRST TIME EVER that I would watch the republican debates – every minute of them – and decide in an unbiased way if any of them could be “my guy”. I had never considered strongly voted for a republican before, as most of their rhetoric seemed to be biblical in nature. I’m an atheist, but that’s for another day. My story is, I started watching and found that I agreed with about 80% of what was being said by everyone. Yes, there was some outrageous shit that put a big red X over most of these candidates as we went along.
But we now get to CNN.
With MY story, CNN was covering Donald 24×7. I ate up this shit. They kept feeding it to me. They gave Donald so much air time, it was like the Donald News Network. All day. All night. They seemed to be for him.
Then…he won the nomination.
Then….in a day, everything switched 100% against him and for Hillary. I swear to fucking God, the switch was flipped in one day. I had news on in the background, as I work from home 3 days a week, and often when I’d have downtime, would hear a lot of what was going on. For you casual news watchers of 10-15 mins a day – you didn’t notice. For me, who had this on 9 hours a day, it was a sudden goddamn flip. It wasn’t really even concealed.
It quickly became apparent to me, at that point, that CNN was holding back anything serious on Trump so that he could be the innocent deer led to slaughter by the Clinton News Network. They propped him up to dispose of Bush’s $125 million war chest.
CNN became almost unwatchable from that point on. I kept wanting to scream at the TV. They were missing things in their arguments. They were citing bogus studies. They were slandering him and calling him all kinds of names. Still, I watched. Then, after the election, it was fire and brimstone. The end days were coming at the new rise of Hitler. We have a racist, xenophobic, misogynist, anti-woman man in the presidency.
I couldn’t take it. One day, I tried the Faux News Network, a network I had crushed for 20 years. The messages were positive. Good things were coming. It was staggering.
Then it kind of hit me. If Bush was your guy, Fox was the place to be. If Obama was your guy, CNN was the place to be. But if you’re a dem and a republican wins? Get the fuck off of CNN because you’ll want to off yourself with the negativity.
Lastly, I want to talk about sample size. This is where we got most of our global warming scientist numbers from. And, it’s important to know what’s going on…
In statistics, you often don’t have the time or resources to ask everyone in the country a question. So, you have to ask a given number of people, then extrapolate the data. For example, if you lined up 10 kids from your local school and asked them what their favorite candy is, maybe 6 of them say Reese’s peanut butter cups. So…60% of kids love them! Great…now we have a marketing model, and we want to sell this to kids. Let’s spend millions on advertising and production! Let’s back up. Maybe the teacher gave them as rewards to the kids, and because of this, it’s the only candy they know. Maybe the survey gave 4 answers, and students had to pick one of the four. Also, what region of the country were they in?? What was the socioeconomic backgrounds of the students? Were they all white? Do different ethnicities and cultures like different candy?
What we see a lot today, is the 60% number is used so much, that it BECOMES fact that cannot be questioned. Period. Now, news outlets are trying to give these stats to you as FACT. And, people like me dig in. Show me your facts. And, I’m getting killed by friends on facebook because people that are stating FACT are indeed pushing an agenda with their numbers – and when you spot an agenda, it starts making the numbers stink a little.
So what do we do about the 60%?
First, sample size must be much bigger….and more random…and as disparate as possible with population. For example, if you increased the sample size to 50,000 people about what their favorite breakfast food is, and only asked people in Florida, you might get 60% of people saying “grits”. See!! I have a LOT of people!! Well, my friend, I’ve never seen grits, and a majority of the population of the US lives in my region. So you need to try to open up your sample….
So maybe you survey 1,000 people in 50 states. Is that definitive? Well, maybe 60% of people wrote eggs and bacon! OK…but the US is only 5% of the world’s population, so what do other countries eat?
My point is, that usually samples hit about a number of 600 or so people, which then provides sample errors of about +/- 4%. But your methods, populations, and extrapolations are then usually documented and disclosed – because otherwise you can ask 600 people in Florida and you get grits.
This now takes us to climate scientists.
97% of scientist agree that humans are causing global warming and the end is THIS YEAR if we do nothing NOW!!! Anyone who disagrees with this statement has been ostracized from science or is thought of as uneducated. I’m going to leave that nugget out there for you to play with. I want you to look this up…
Then, take a look at this article – 97 articles refuting the 97%
This will begin the rabbit hole. I am not telling you that global warming is a hoax. I’m trying to show you how numbers become FACT which aren’t exactly FACT. Then, what happens is one side shouts down the other and says “pass my $200 billion global warming budget that jacks taxes up on everyone so we can drive battery powered cars and drink our own recycled urine!” When people want to question the validity of this, they point to one study. Well…..if you wish to take the leap of questioning numbers, it’s going to start to open you up to debate.
And get us sitting at the same table…
Do you want to take the red pill or blue pill Neo??
No matter what your answer…I’m not right, and you are not wrong. But we need to argue with the same set of rules. I use logic, numbers, facts, and real unbiased statistics. You use emotion, compassion, intuition, opinion, and biased stats. It is hard to talk on the same frequency as you at times…and this writing was to try and get you to understand how one side or the other can manipulate your feelings – without using real information – to suit their agenda.