Category: Skepticism

Should TV Stations Ban False Political Ads?

Here’s an interesting question to ponder; please go to link to read the complete article at The Balance by Glenn Halbrooks.

images-1.jpg“Lies!” That’s what many politicians would say after seeing an opponent’s campaign ad on television. Those politicians often demand that TV stations ban advertisements that they claim contain false information.

Voters often wonder why TV stations don’t investigate political advertisements to verify their truthfulness before allowing them to be shown on television. That way, the alleged lies never hit the airwaves.

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Paradox of Automation

Interesting.

Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

by Tim Harford at theguardian.com

The paradox of automation, then, has three strands to it. First, automatic systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate and by automatically correcting mistakes. Because of this, an inexpert operator can function for a long time before his lack of skill becomes apparent his incompetence is a hidden weakness that can persist almost indefinitely. Second, even if operators are expert, automatic systems erode their skills by removing the need for practice. Third, automatic systems tend to fail either in unusual situations or in ways that produce unusual situations, requiring a particularly skilful response. A more capable and reliable automatic system makes the situation worse.

ibm-704-1954_thumb1Back in the late 1970s I was responsible for supporting an then state-of-the-art communications system (think airline reservation system) with the latest hardware and the most elegant coding. However, at that time the console for the system was a Model 33 Teletypewriter (unless, as we occasionally were forced to do, you input instructions through the front-panel toggle switches).

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Fox Cycle Explained

You can find the original of this post over at Media Matters.

images.jpgThe Fox Cycle is the process by which Fox News pushes right-wing fringe stories into the mainstream news. Fox distorts facts, spreads myths as truths and devotes heavy, one-sided coverage to make viewers believe in baseless, manufactured stories — and, worse, to convince mainstream media outlets to cover these lies.

The Fox Cycle occurs in six steps:

  1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting a fringe or false story.
  2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
  3. Fox News and conservative media attack the “liberal media” for ignoring it.
  4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
  5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
  6. The story is later proved to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.

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FSMism For the True Believer

imageYou may have heard that a resident of one of the fine establishments for convicted criminals in Nebraska has had his religious freedom abridged by a U.S. District judge who ruled that Pastafarianism (also known as, and referred to in court documents, as FSMism) does not qualify for Constitutional protection.

In making his ruling,  John Gerrard provided an excellent summary of Pastafarianism for the unfamiliar:

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