Archive for the ‘Media’ Tag

Fallacy of Persuasion   2 comments

What’s the most useless thing you know how to do?

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Propaganda Ride SharingWow, this is going to be a hard thing to say because I know a lot of really useless stuff. That happens when you’ve been alive more than half a century during a time of great innovation. As a writer of fantasy novels and an apocalyptic series, I sometimes use those now “useless” skills in my writing, which means I now I have to find something that wouldn’t have a use even in a fantasy world.

That means things that are kind of useless in our world today might be highly useful in the worlds I write about. For example, do you know how to adjust a butterfly valve in a carburetor? The other day, I mentioned rebuilding a carburetor to a friend of my son who actually knows a thing or two about cars and he said “Why would you bother when you can just replace the engine with a fuel-injected one?” Good point. Knowing how to rebuild a carburetor is pretty useless unless you live in a time when an EMP has wiped out the computers that run fuel-injected engines and then it becomes a highly valuable skill.

In the United States of America where it is very hard to even find a standard-transmission vehicle these days, being able to drive stick is an increasingly useless skill. Ah, but if you go to a 3rd world country, there are almost never any automatic transmission cars, so driving stick becomes a very valuable skill.

So, what is the MOST useless thing I know how to do? I know how to use propaganda to manipulate people to get a predetermined outcome. I trained how to do that when I was in college. But it’s a useless skill because you can’t really control other people. I recognized that in my first job out of college and so I don’t really use the skill anymore. While it is true that you can persuade people with reason and truth, it’s an illusion that if we just apply the right pressure, say the right words, whatever we do to sway other people, that we will get long-term willing compliance with things that are not true. Sooner or later,  people will rebel against whatever we’re trying to convince them of. Some people will recognize the falsehood immediately and others might take decades, but sooner or later, truth will work its way into people’s consciousness and then you’ll have a rebellion on your hands. The only persuasion worth investing a great deal of time in it is explaining reality to people who have been confused by propaganda.

Propaganda Testimonial.png

This past week, after six years of incredible pressure by local government agencies pressing arguments with questionable science trying to scare people into a specific and self-destructive course of action, the voters of my community rebelled and told the local government that it cannot be involved in air quality issues related to home heating for at least the next two years. The “victory” was won because the government itself boldly did what some of us predicted they would do back when this whole totalitarian regime first started – their hand-selected “community” taskforce y voted to force the entire community to use a fuel that will increase our not-inconsiderable heating costs by one-third. It was like they just decided to self-destruct. With them showing their underdrawers, the voters decided to take the power away from them. Now the individuals who make up the community will have to use reason and technology to solve the problem of air quality in a cost-effective way.

I was part of the community group that hoped to sway the vote to remove authority from the Borough. I helped with the social media campaign. The other folks kept looking for just the right words or just the right slogan to get people to understand what they were saying. I kept saying “Just be honest”. I told them to talk about how the local government’s actions have effected them personally. Meantime, the Borough and the useful idiots who support their draconian measures used hyperbole and end-of-the-world propaganda language. And in the end, about 15,000 people (in a community of 100,000, which is another issue) voted. More than 7500 voted to take away the Borough’s control over home heating devices, while less than 6500 voted to let them remain in control.

Propaganda CredibilitySo, I would say my skill with propaganda is the most useless skill I possess because human nature eventually pushes back against propaganda. Sometimes it takes years for the rebellion to occur, but it does eventually happen. As stupid as many people often seem to be, truth will out … eventually. I can put decades of effort into a propaganda campaign only to have information revealed that discredits the propaganda and … poof, I’ve just wasted years of my life on an illusion.

I’m pleased I learned that lesson very early in my career because it could easily be me as the Public Information Officer of the Fairbanks North Star Borough who now has egg on her face. So, it really is truly the least useful skill I possess, so I’m glad I’ve sworn it off as not worth the effort.

Posted October 8, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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I Read It At the Supermarket Counter   Leave a comment

TabloidDo you read the trashy tabloids while you wait in line at the grocery store? What headlines grab your attention and why?

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The simple answer is I don’t read tabloids, but that’s really not true. Many years ago, in a different career, when I was in journalism school, we were challenged to read the headlines in the tabloids and then to read a sampling of the articles to see if they related at all. While I don’t read the articles anymore, I still enjoy the headlines.

Tabloids are all about the headlines. They are the print version of click-bait and highly effective at getting our attention. I certainly hope the headline writers get paid at least as much as the article writers because they are so much better at their jobs.

While I really don’t care if Meaghan Markle’s father is involved in some sort of scandal, I do see those headlines and wonder, if only for a second, about the scandal. I don’t care enough to research it or google the new American princess, but it gets me interested for half a second … and it sells tabloids. I see a lot of people pulling them off the rack as we wait.

And, what really gets me is that sometimes these lurid headlines later turn out to be true. Because they’re not bound by the ethics that regular journalists pretend to subscribe to, tabloid writers follow stories that are bleeding edge and sometimes, they scoop the “real” news outlets by having it first.

Doesn’t mean I read them, but I do find that sort of interesting. I’m also rather amazed that in this era of electronic blogs, tabloids are still being sold, but … there again is the power of click-bait.

Posted May 21, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Media & Messages   Leave a comment

March 19, 2018 – How much is too much? We know repetition is important to remember things. That’s why we see the same commercials over and over again. But, how much is too much? What’s your favorite ad and what’s your least favorite ad. (Can be television, radio, billboards.)

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Image result for image of a really great advertisementSo, I have to confess that I don’t watch advertisements very often. Broadcast television is and always has been limited in Fairbanks, Alaska, so first we had Dish (mostly advertisement-free) and now we have Netflix. The closest we come to ads is the very ad-like sponsorship spots on PBS during Friday news night. If I hear that BNSF Railway spot one more time, I may just run screaming into the Alaska night.

My very first journalism class in college studied Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, which came out in 1964. It had been out about 15 years, but there was no denying the freshness of his perspective nor the prescience of McLuhan, who loved advertising. He was among the first to celebrate unreservedly what he called “the Madison Avenue frog-men-of-the-mind.” The business of trying to sell people more stuff neither frightened nor appalled him. He didn’t look down on it, as so many of his contemporaries did.

“Many people have expressed uneasiness about the advertising enterprise in our time,” McLuhan also wrote in Understanding Media. “To put the matter abruptly, the advertising industry is a crude attempt to extend the principles of automation to every aspect of society. Ideally, advertising aims at the goal of a programmed harmony among all human impulses and aspirations and endeavours. Using handicraft methods, it stretches out toward the ultimate electronic goal of a collective consciousness. When all production and all consumption are brought into a pre-established harmony with all desire and all effort, then advertising will have liquidated itself by its own success.”

Further proof, as if any were needed, of Marshall McLuhan’s prescience. In 1964, he wrote:*

“The classified ads (and stock-market quotations) are the bedrock of the press. Should an alternative source of easy access to such diverse daily information be found, the press will fold.”   *Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (ARK edition, 1987) p.207

“Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century” according to McLuhan.

Now there’s a thought. It is certainly true that many of us remember the ads that separated the shows better than the shows themselves. “Where’s the Beef?” … “Let Mikey try it. He won’t like it.” … the Maytag Repairman … Madge the Dishwasher … Mr. Clean … the coffee commercial with the guy who became Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer … all that Coca Cola memorabilia.

These ads played in the background and many of us got up to go to the bathroom or make a sandwich when they were playing, but they still stuck with us because …

“Ads are not meant for conscious consumption. They are intended as subliminal pills for the subconscious in order to exercise an hypnotic spell, especially on sociologists.”

McLuhan had some interesting observations about advertising in his day that speak to the situation in our own.

“After the Second War, an ad-conscious American army officer in Italy noted with misgivings that Italians could tell you the names of cabinet ministers, but not the names of commodities preferred by Italian celebrities. Furthermore, he said, the wall space of Italian cities was given over to political, rather than commercial slogans. He predicted that there was small hope that Italians would ever achieve any sort of domestic prosperity or calm until they began to worry about the rival claims of cornflakes and cigarettes, rather than the capacities of public men. In fact, he went so far as to say that democratic freedom very largely consists in ignoring politics and worrying, instead, about the threat of scaly scalp, hairy legs, sluggish bowlers, saggy breasts, receding gums, excess weight, and tired blood.”

I think it’s striking that advertising has largely gone the way of the dodo bird in the 21st century. We hit our mute buttons or channel surf or we choose media that have no advertising (one of the beauties of streaming). And as we lose that “cave art” we turn our minds, perhaps not surprisingly if we’ve read McLuhan, to politics. We don’t pay as much attention to product brands today, but wow do we know everything there is to know about President Trump. We obsess over whether Melania wore high heels or tennis shoes. We hang on every trolling tweet. McLuhan would say we’ve gone backwards … that freedom is found in the stuff you can buy, not the blood sport of politics. And, yet, here we are … once again refusing to learn from history so that we’re doomed to repeat its uglier segments.

Trust by the Numbers   2 comments

Blog Hop Topic – Do a survey of your readers and publish the results.

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I didn’t participate in the blog hop last week because I really couldn’t think of a poll I wanted to do, but then I hit upon a question that I thought would work.

=How Much Do You Trust Mass Media to Report the News Fully, Honestly and Fairly?

I got different results depending on the forum I asked the question on.

Image result for image of public's trust of the mediaThe blog got likes on the question, but no responses — which was one reason I didn’t participate last week. That happens more often than not on blog polls – mine, anyway.

Facebook fans – many of whom are writers – don’t trust the mass media at all. Well, a few said they trusted some sources more than others and they disagreed about which sources are more trustworthy. There were the perennial arguments over whether Fox News can even be called news compared to, say, network news and if it would be better under the “Fairness” Doctrine. Such is the nature of a “poll” taken on a forum that encourages comments. I have liberal and conservative followers and even a few libertarians weighed in. I’d say fewer than 10% trust the media to any degree at all.

On Twitter, 8% mostly trust the mass media to give them full, fair and honest reporting, while 31% partially trust the mass media. That leaves 61% of the respondents who rarely trust the media to give them the straight scoop on anything.

What do I think about those results?

Twitter respondents are apparently optimists because 39% of them believe you can trust the media to some degree. One woman did comment that she trusts the sources she’s researched and approves of how they were funded. Okay, that makes sense — sort of. But who is to say that – for example, government-funded media is more trustworthy than privately funded media? I watch PBS and see a lot of propaganda being pushed there, then I flip over to CBS and that’s all propaganda. Fox and CNN … news with a decidedly ideological bent sometimes with propaganda mixed in. Some websites are also propaganda, while others report the news from an ideological bent.

I’m not surprised that only about 10% believe the media can be trusted most of the time and only about 40% believe it can be trusted at all, but I suspect we need to be honest with ourselves and say we really can’t trust any one source to report fully, honestly and fairly. You could maybe follow 2 or 3 and get a well-rounded idea of what’s really going on, but they all are slanted so you can’t just trust a single one.

I also asked a few coworkers about this question and got some interesting answers. A couple of them blame Donald Trump and his “fake news” diatribes for making people distrust the media … or they blame Sarah Palin for her “lame stream” media comments. But really, I think — unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker without an Internet connection for, well, decades … you’d have to be pretty naive to trust the mass media, because they’ve done such a poor job of being honest, fair and full in their reporting.  Remember when we were kids and our parents trusted Walter Cronkite to give them the truth? Well, it turned out he was lying and slanting the news for his own purposes. He wasn’t doing anything new, by the way. Edward R. Morrow lied about the World War 2. The New York Times lied us into World War 1 when it insisted the Lusitania wasn’t carrying arms. The Hearst Media empire created fake news to convince Americans that the Maine explosion was an act of war rather than an attempt at self-protection. Heck, newspapers in the Civil War days carried water for the Confederates and the Union. The media claims its goal is to provide full, fair and honest reporting of actual facts, but reporters are human beings who are influenced by their prejudices and who work for editors and producers who sometimes have agendas on one side or the other of an event. How could any human-made institution be wholly fair, honest and full given the biases that are so much a part of us as human beings?

And, there you have it.

Posted January 29, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Poll – How Much Do You Trust Mass Media?   1 comment

How much do you trust mass media (newspapers, television, radio) to report news fully, accurately and fairly?

  • Mostly
  • Partially
  • Rarely

 

Leave your comment below and feel free to explain your answer.

Posted January 24, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Media, Uncategorized

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Dangers of Government Control   Leave a comment

We are a nation of 325 million people. We have a bit of control over the behavior of our 535 elected representatives in Congress, the president and the vice president. But there are seven unelected people who have life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives — the seven governors of the Federal Reserve Board.

The Federal Reserve Board controls our money supply. Its governors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and serve 14-year staggered terms. They have the power to cripple an economy, as they did during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Their inept monetary policy threw the economy into the Great Depression, during which real output in the United States fell nearly 30 percent and the unemployment rate soared as high as nearly 25 percent. The most often stated cause of the Great Depression is the October 1929 stock market crash. Little is further from the truth. The Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure led by the Federal Reserve’s rapid 25 percent contraction of the money supply.

The next government failure was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Those failures were compounded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. Leftists love to praise New Deal interventionist legislation. But FDR’s very own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, saw the folly of the New Deal, writing: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot!”

The bottom line is that the Federal Reserve Board, the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and Roosevelt’s New Deal policies turned what would have been a two, three- or four-year sharp downturn into a 16-year affair.

Here’s my question never asked about the Federal Reserve Act of 1913: How much sense does it make for us to give seven unelected people life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives?

While you’re pondering that question, consider another: Should we give the government, through the Federal Communications Commission, control over the internet?

During the Clinton administration, along with the help of a Republican-dominated Congress, the visionary 1996 Telecommunications Act declared it “the policy of the United States” that internet service providers and websites be “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” The act sought “to promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.”

In 2015, the Obama White House pressured the FCC to create the Open Internet Order, which has been branded by its advocates as net neutrality. This move overthrew the spirit of the Telecommunications Act. It represents creeping FCC jurisdiction, as its traditional areas of regulation — such as broadcast media and telecommunications — have been transformed by the internet, or at least diminished in importance.

Fortunately, it’s being challenged by the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who has announced he will repeal the FCC’s heavy-handed 2015 internet regulations. The United States has been the world leader in the development of internet technology precisely because it has been relatively unfettered by federal and state regulation. The best thing that the U.S. Congress can do for internet entrepreneurs and internet consumers is to send the FCC out to pasture as it did with the Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated the airline industry, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which regulated the trucking industry. When we got rid of those regulatory agencies, we saw a greater number of competitors, and consumers paid lower prices. Giving the FCC the same medicine would allow our high-tech industry to maintain its world leadership position.

Source: Dangers of Government Control

Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

Copyright © 2017 Creators.com

Cheap Shots Not Funny   Leave a comment

I admire the French satirical magazine Charlie Bedo for its continued confrontation of cultural sacred cows. I’m not a regular subscriber because I don’t read French well enough to fully enjoy it, but I like their cartoons and a friend who is fluent sometimes forwards translated articles. Still, I think they went too far with this cover, which features the phrase “Dieu Existe! Il a noyé tous les néo-Nazis du Texas” as the caption.  When my friend sent me the cover and asked me what I thought, I didn’t even need his translation of the French to know that this was rude and insensitive. I know just enough French to know it said something about “God exists” and “neo-Nazis of Texas.”

The caption translates to “God Exists! He drowned all the neo-Nazis in Texas!”

Charlie Hebdo is not exactly known for kindness, tact, or any sort of respect, but this sinks pretty low even for a magazine that specializes in low.

Before I could think about what I would blog about it, people quickly to remind Hebdo that the world (including the United States) stood by the publication when their offices were attacked by Islamic terrorists and that the U.S. military did a pretty good job eliminating the Nazis during WWII.

View image on Twitter

It pissed off Brad, who lived in Houston for about five years. He says the cover makes no sense. Houston is not a Republican city, the people of Texas most definitely are not neo-Nazis, and people of all races and creeds and colors were affected by the flooding and the storm. It comes off as a cheap shot at a community that is already suffering, and it’s pretty tasteless. If Hebdo is attacked again by folks angry over their slaying of sacred cows, they will have one less supporter and I don’t think I’m alone.

You have a right to free speech, but there are lines that just shouldn’t be crossed.

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Media, Uncategorized

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Still Looking for Your Cheese?   1 comment

Image result for maze with cheeseThe Trump administration blocked some liberal media outlets from a press conference and the blocked ones are freaking out as if this has never happened before. Apparently, they’ve forgotten that the Obama administration routinely blocked access of some media outlets.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/10/10/cpj-report-on-obama-press/2960607/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/10/27/usa-todays-susan-page-obama-administration-most-dangerous-to-media-in-history/?utm_term=.3e230376f3aa

Note these articles are dated 2013 and 2014. The both center on the opacity — the lack of transparency — of the Obama administration.

Trump is incredibly transparent. Just read his tweets — though I wouldn’t believe everything he tweets. If you don’t feel him tweaking your strings, you’re really not that sensitive. Reporters from some media outlets don’t like that they are no longer the gatekeepers of information. They don’t get to manipulate the message and put their own spin on it and then claim that anyone else with another take on the message is not a legitimate news source.

The Trump administration has moved the liberal media’s cheese and they’re so busy protesting that it’s been moved that they don’t seem to be seeking where it might have gone.

May I make a suggestion? Try being balanced. Instead of presenting your opinions and the half of the facts you like and screeching about how the sky is falling, try presenting the entire story, leaving your opinion at the door and digging for some actual evidence rather than just dealing in half-truths.

I think if you did that for six months or a year, you might get your press passes back.

Posted February 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Media

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Who Moved the Liberal Media’s Cheese?   4 comments

This week, I get the distinct feeling that the American press needs to read the book Who Moved My Cheese? They clearly don’t know how to handle change.

In Spencer Johnson’s thin book, he tells the story of four characters who live in a maze: the mice Scurry and Sniff, and two ‘littlepeople’, Hem and Haw. All is going well because they have found a huge source of their favorite food, cheese. Hem and Haw have even moved their houses to be near it since it has become the center of their lives. They don’t notice that it is getting smaller, and are devastated when find the cheese is gone.

Image result for image of cheese in a maze

This is where the story splits in two. Scurry and Sniff quickly accept the loss of the cheese and go off into the maze in search of other sources. The littlepeople, because they have built their lives around the big cheese, feel they are the victim of some kind of fraud or theft. Rather than helping their situation, it feeds their victimhood and assures they go hungry. Meanwhile, the mice find more cheese.

The fable captures that moment after we have lost a job or a relationship and we believe it is the end of the world. All the good things were in the previous situation, and all the future holds is fear. Yet Johnson’s message is, instead of seeing change as the end of something, we must learn to see it as a beginning. To make himself accept reality, Haw writes this on the wall of the maze: “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”

The media appears to be playing the part of Hem and Haw before Haw recognizes his need to change. This particular president of the United States isn’t treating them with the respect Obama did. He is instead returning their intense disrespect of him right back at them. He’s not scheduling press conferences around their calendars, but around his own. He argues with them when they’re rude.

They act like this is a horrible situation and aver that it is a sign that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing. Go back in history, however, and you will see that government and the press have frequently been at odds with each other. I was trained in journalism courses at college that we were supposed to have contention between us. The job of a political reporter is to hold politicians’ feet to the fire.

Conversely, government should be highly suspicious of the press because the press is not their friend. Our modern media seem to have gotten used to the “big cheese” of occasional press conferences where the President answered their questions as if they had a right to the answers. Their cheese has been moved.

They need to get over it. Just because Trump isn’t acting like Obama — who was rarely challenged by the press — doesn’t mean he’s evil or in crisis or incompetent. It simply means that he not bound by  the behavior of previous administrations.

Go look for new cheese. Learn new (or really old) ways of doing your job. Stop acting like the change in the air is the burning of the world. Change can be painful for those who fight it. Sometimes there are principles worth fighting for, but the methods of the modern presidential press conference is not one of them.

Posted February 18, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Media

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Western Media Credibility   Leave a comment

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/09/paul-craig-roberts/western-media-credibility/

By

PaulCraigRoberts.org

September 19, 2016

The latest from the Gallup Poll is that only 32% of Americans trust the print and TV media, to tell the truth. Republicans, 18 to 49-year-old Americans, and independents trust the media even less, with trust rates of 14%, 26%, and 30%.

The only group that can produce a majority that still trusts the media are Democrats with a 51% trust rate in print and TV reporting. The next highest trust rate is Americans over 50 years of age with a trust rate of 38 percent.

The conclusion is that old people who are Democrats are the only remaining group that barely trusts the media. This mistaken trust is due to their enculturation. For older Democrats belief in government takes the place of Republican belief in evangelical Christianity. Older Democrats are firm believers that it was a government under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that saved America from the Great Depression. As the print and TV media in the 21st century are firmly aligned with the government, the trust in government spills over into trust of the media that is serving the government. As the generation of Democrats enculturated with this mythology die off, Democratic trust rates will plummet toward Republican levels.

The Rest of the Article

Posted September 20, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Media, Uncategorized

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