Author Archive: admin

Without verification

Since receiving considerable — and justified — criticism for helping Trump’s election with false equivalence coverage, media outlets have become better about adding “he said without evidence” caveats whenever the president says or tweets something outrageous. However, it appears for now that they’re applying that lesson to only one subject: the president himself. This is …

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The time for ‘neutrality’ has passed

Just as pseudoscience — “science-y sounding” information that is not scientific — is dangerous when used to convey misinformation about health, energy, the environment and other topics, “pseudonews” is dangerous when used to convey misinformation about politics, finance, regulations, public policy and other matters of importance to citizens and society. It’s not necessarily “fake news,” …

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What does it take to change strongly held beliefs?

When a person does something awful to a fellow human-being, there’s always more than one person who feels the pain. In many cases, those hurt include the perpetrator’s parents, who might have done everything they could to raise a caring adult… only to see things end badly. What decent human, then, could read the comments …

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Be alert to hedging language designed to ‘make things fuzzier’

In the wake of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, I thought it might be helpful to consider science’s understanding of hedging language, and how word choices can color our understanding of news coverage and officials’ responses. Hedging language uses cautious wording to imply lower certainty in a statement. Cognitive linguist/philosopher George Lakoff wrote famously …

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What is journalism’s fundamental purpose?

Despite the nonsensical accusations that they’re “fake news,” some of the leading members of the mainstream print media in the U.S. haven’t helped to distinguish themselves recently. Beyond the often-irresponsible “narrative” journalism they pursued ahead of the 2016 presidential election, outlets like The New York Times and the Boston Globe have stumbled badly under the …

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Smart and ‘easy’ tech vs. ‘the pleasure of finding things out’

Today’s information technology companies tout the coming era of intelligent digital assistants as a boon for the lives of everyone from overscheduled small-business entrepreneurs to parents of curious small children. Have a question? Just speak up and get the answer instantly. Need a task completed? Ask the AI and it shall be done. Now, there …

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The tech-social justice conundrum

Now, suddenly, our much-vaunted tech leaders find themselves confronted with a conundrum that’s been quietly evolving for a long time: the conundrum of whether it’s possible to create an innovative, data-driven, smart and futuristic society without also taking care to ensure a societal foundation of rules and laws that are just, fair, equitable and humane. …

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AI wins

Will AI take over human society? It’s too late to ask that question. Because, based on a number of recent developments, it appears that artificial intelligence has already hijacked the world. By this, I don’t mean that computers have attained sentience and conspired to conquer the planet. Rather, I’ve come to believe that algorithms and …

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Inauguration day

And so we come to this day: Jan. 20, 2017. Inauguration Day. The day on which the U.S. White House becomes – in the eyes of many who voted for a different presidential candidate – Slytherin House, its occupant the Left’s own Voldemort. During the 30 days leading up to today, I’ve been doing a …

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There’s nothing new about ‘fake’ news

During the interview for my first full-time newspaper reporting job, years before anyone had heard of – or even conceived of – the World Wide Web, I remember the managing editor of the small suburban weekly asking something to the effect of why he should hire me, a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in …

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