Morning Ethics Warm-Up, New Years Day, 2018: The Year On Ethics Alarms, The College Sports Scam, And A Poll That Is Less Than Meets The Eye

1 Stats and things. For the first time, Ethics Alarms had less traffic than the year before, down almost 10%. I was expecting at least a 10% jump, so this is disappointing, though I probably should have seen it coming. The 2016 campaign drew a lot of interest to the site, and that year was a major jump from the previous one. The blog ends the year with more followers than it had at the beginning, and the number of comments were up over 2016. I would also say that the quality of comments was dramatically better, with the most Comments of the Day ever.

The post that had the most comments in 2017 was a COTD, in fact: Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition” with 324, among the most ever.

The author? Zoltar Speaks!

It’s just vanity and ego to worry about traffic fluctuations. I’m competitive by nature; it’s a flaw. I’d love Ethics Alarms to have sufficient name recognition and exposure to have a measurable influence in public discourse, but that’s always been unlikely, given the subject matter. What I should care most about, and do, when I’m being rational, is that the discussions here are uniformly of high quality, avoid the idiotic “Yeah, well what about Bush, you repug?” back and forth threads of most websites, and that there is a daily colloquy here that I can be proud to host. Besides, if Ethics Alarms were widely quoted, I’d have to put up with being called a “self-proclaimed ethicist” more often.

I also banned far fewer commenters this year than last year. That’s a good thing.

Next to the search engines and WordPress, the most referrals came through the Washington Post and the New York Times. The Althouse blog sent more readers here than any other blog, which is nice, especially since Ann still doesn’t bother to include me in her blogroll.

Not counting stand alone pages, like the About page and the Rationalizations List, the top viewed posts in 2017 were 1) the 2016 anti Snopes post; 2) the 2013 workplace ethics post, 3) “Wanetta Gibson is Worse Than I Thought” (2014); 4) the initial VW scandal post from 2015;  5) the 2015 post about ventriloquist Jeff Duham’s marital problems (Don’t ask me why; it’s a mystery); 6) the Listerine and alcoholics post from way back in 2010; 7) the Foundation for a Better Life post (2011); 8) The anti-“What Would You Do?” post, also from 2011, and it is depressing that the thing is still being broadcast; 9) finally a 2017 post, The Naked Teacher Principle, Ex-Porn Star Variation, and 10) also from last year, my take-down of Sally Yates.

That last was also the first politics-related post to turn-up on the list, which tells you something, though I’m not sure what. The Ethics Alarms post that I have most linked to in 2017 was buried deep on the list at 136: 2015’s, A Nation Of Assholes: The Ultimate, Undeniable And Crucial Reason Donald Trump Must Never Be President.

As in every year, I think, none of the posts that I thought were the most important or my best work were among the most read.

Thanks to all the readers and commenters who have made this past year a rewarding and challenging one.

Next year will be even better.

2. While you watch those Bowl games, think about this...College sports critic Mike McIntire explains the absurd status of big money in college sports in his article, “The College Sports Tax Dodge.” An excerpt:

Today, as the hugely lucrative football bowl season wraps up, colleges fear that the new tax law signed by President Trump could derail their gravy train — two provisions target coaches’ high salaries and booster donations tied to ticket purchases. But they need not worry much.

There are no plans to start taxing television revenue and corporate sponsorships, two of the biggest income streams, which together transformed intercollegiate athletics into a multibillion-dollar business. Even with the legislative changes, collegiate sports remain largely tax exempt, the beneficiary of a public subsidy that is increasingly difficult to defend.

The corrosive culture of money in big-time college sports — more than $8 billion a year among the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I sports programs — was painfully obvious recently with the indictments of college coaches and an Adidas executive charged with paying bribes to recruit basketball players and steer them to agents. It was left to federal prosecutors to issue a statement condemning the “criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes.”

The tax-exempt nature of college sports is not the cause of these problems. Rather, it is rocket fuel for an engine that has escaped the gravitational pull of common sense and decency….

If President Trump wants to repatriate and tax corporate profits stashed offshore, he might also consider the untaxed billions hiding in plain sight on campuses right here at home.

I recommend the whole article.

3. About that stupid “Most admired” poll. It’s fake news. Last week we were told, as if it were significant, that Barack Obama—not President Trump!—was The Most Admired Man in America, and Hillary Clinton was  The Most Admired Woman. We were told that a Gallup Poll determined this, and by being told, we were expected to learn something. However, we were not told in most reports,

…that the Most Admired Man was the most admired man of only 17% of those polled.

…that the real winner of the title was Nobody, since 25% of the pollees couldn’t think of anyone to name.

…that Hillary was named by only 9% of those polled,  fewer than the percentage that named friends or relatives (13%).

…that after Trump, who was close behind Obama at 14%, those polled were grasping, with the Pope finishing third (4%), and Evangelist Billy Graham ( whom I thought was dead: he’s 99) a point  behind in 4th.

Several conservative wags pointed out that the poll results could have been headlined, “President Trump Most Admired U.S. Elected Official.” Nah. That would spoil the “narrative.” What the news media wants to convey is that he’s unpopular, like the other Presidents (Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, and George W. Bush) who lost a poll Presidents almost always win.

The poll proves nothing except that most Americans barely pay attention to the nation and its culture. Other than that, it is misleading, and without the numbers that immediately show how misleading, the poll is deceitful, intentional misrepresentation. If one were determined to find something newsworthy in the poll, I suppose it would be in the rise or fall of certain figures. Elizabeth Warren is up to 3% in the Most Admired Woman category, tripling last year’s number.Bill Clinton isn’t on the list at all, meaning that he was named less often than Elon Musk, Mile Pence, and the Dalai Lama. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Bill isn’t still admired by more Americans than Elon Musk (since most American have no idea who he is), just that he’s not admired the most by as many people as admire Elon Musk the most.

Isn’t the man who is admired by more people more admired than the man who more people say they admire most? Who knows? Who cares?

The poll is garbage, and by reporting it as non-garbage, the news media again dishonestly spins for “the resistance.”

24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, New Years Day, 2018: The Year On Ethics Alarms, The College Sports Scam, And A Poll That Is Less Than Meets The Eye

  1. Wait till you read the Washington Post’s list of winners and losers for this year – losers include “the truth” and “the stability of the American political system,” while the big winner is “Democrats 2018 hopes” saying that if the election were held today they would take back both chambers in “one fell swoop.” Journalism is fast becoming garbage all around.

    • I didn’t read the article but I think the headline was something along the lines of: “Democrats Haven’t Been This Confident Since … 2016!” Which pretty much says it all. I think they’re (Dems and the media, but I repeat myself) absolutely delusional.

  2. If you can influence but one mind to think critically and differently you are a success.

    Firmly held irrational or unsupported beliefs are harder to rid oneself of than that of an opiate addiction. These beliefs make us feel good and superior. They reinforce our sense of importance and righteousness.

    It matters not if you have 1 follower or a million, well articulated and supported opinions are probably the most import element in the preservation of a successful republic.

    Keep up the good work.

    • 1- Seems anyone wanting to increase their site traffic follows a certain formula:

      “What Jack Marshall’s Ethics Alarms Forum Looks Like In 2018 Will Blow Your Mind.”

      “These beliefs make us feel good and superior.”

      Mae West would say: “Goodness had nothing to do with it,” but yer onto to something with that feeling superior thing.

      “Belief Superiority” is powerfully motivating & favors no particular ideology.

      • Paul: Thanks for the link. It seems to validate my general observations about human behavior. Interestingly, we see marketers use techniques in messaging that reinforce the idea that people that believe in their message are somehow superior thinking beings even though the content is focused on emotional cues. It works.

        Regarding my use of the word “good”, I used it to signify the inherent virtue of themselves and their ideas. Thus, it reinforces all other ideas that they hold. For example ” I strongly believe that the humanitarian thing to do is . . . , Therefore it is good and I am good. Then by extension, I have proved I am good so my other ideas must also be good. It is basically a form of narcissism.

        • ”It seems to validate my general observations about human behavior.”

          Most folks prefer the channel WII-FM.

          What’s In It For Me.

          Makes one wonder if there is any true altruism. For everyone else, that is; I’m wallowing in so gosh darn self-anointed niceness that it makes my teeth hurt, just ask me….

          Anywho, one could make a pretty strong (if cynical) case that, rather than homo sapiens, humans ought be considered ”homo economicus.”

          • Paul

            I teach entry level economics and we use the term homo economicus to explain rational self interest. What gets lost in the discussion is that it is too often assumed that only short term decision making is considered.

              • What generally happens is that they use examples such as Mother Theresa to invalidate the concept. I point out not all satisfaction can be measured in $$$. Utility, benefits, satisfaction and value or anything that counts as wifm. That’s a hard concept to teach especially when the intrinsic value of integrity is compared to extrinsic financial costs.

  3. No. 1 – Stats:

    I recommend several things to increase your traffic without excessive work. One is to better utilize Facebook, and the other is to minimize the use of Twitter to simply posting links to your articles or snarks at idiots if you’re good at that sort of thing.

    Create a special Facebook page just for your blog posts if you don’t have one, and I don’t think you do. When I did a search for Ethics Alarms, all I see is your personal stuff. The URL should be as close to http:// / EthicsAlarms as possible (Facebook can sometimes make difficulty with this, I had to be creative with mine) and make sure all your posts are there. Google “creating a facebook page for your blog” for how to do this.

    Another is to work on your headlines. These, like the headlines that people read, can draw a lot of traffic, in particular from Google. When I say this, I refer mainly to the non-Morning Warm-up posts. I consider that more or less a news curation, something that my former blog still does every morning, but does not submit to Google. Apparently, the powers-that-be there don’t like that sort of article. The curation posts draw a lot of comments, but relatively little traffic. They are mostly for the regular denizens of the site, as I’m sure you know.

    Keep headlines a little shorter if possible and use words that will draw traffic: “A Nation of Assholes” is very catchy (if not particularly Google-friendly) and “Ethics Quote Of The Month: Times Columnist Bret Stephens” should be more like “Ethics Quote Of The Month: New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens” because “new york times” will move you up in the Google rankings. Google key words and tricky phrases in the headlines, when appropriate, will vastly increase your eyeballs.

    Finally, and I say this with great love, take a little more time to make sure of your final edits, particularly in the headline. A faux-pas or three in the body won’t hurt a thing, but when you bugger up the headline and there’s a nasty error in there, it gets you mocked and ignored.
    No. 2 – College sports:

    I agree that this revenue should be taxed.

    No. 3 – Most admired:

    This is part of what’s wrong with our country. We are so obsessed with celebrity, who’s in and who’s out that we ignore the important stuff. Celebrity in general is ethically neutral, but our obsession with it is a great ethical evil. It leads to massive conflicts of interest, cognitive dissonance, and general stupidity.

    Worse, it swells the heads of people barely competent to be human beings (Lena Dunham, I’m looking at you) to the point they think we should care about their political views more than those of the better-informed.

    Several conservative wags pointed out that the poll results could have been headlined, “President Trump Most Admired U.S. Elected Official.” Nah. That would spoil the “narrative.”

    It would also sadden me. Admiration is a term that should not be applied to such a flawed and unapologetically awful human being with all the ethics of a spider (with apologies to all arachnids) as Donald Trump. Despite his surprising accomplishments as president, and no matter how much I might agree with them, he is not someone to be personally admired by anyone other than Newt Gingrich.

    Finally, Happy 2018 to all. May it be blessed, successful, and counted among the best years of your lives.

    • Re: #1..Thanks, Glenn. Taken under advisement. A while back I made a conscious effort to stop making artistic decisions to cater to Google,just as I decided to ditch a forced remote “professional” voice, as I think a blog should sound and feel like me. The Scoreboard was more formal, which is why it wasn’t a blog (and only had weekly posts). Headlines are hard: I now understand why they are so often misleading in newspapers. I know the long ones are Google death. I also know that I have too many tags, but that’s for my convenience, so I can fetch posts by a lot of sub-issues and topics.Of course, the typos are killers. It’s all time, really. I have two sites to manage, and one Facebook page, and I just don’t have time to do all that right, much less the promotional stuff. I get spam emails every day about SEO mmaximization (or adding ads to the site.)

      Just more reasons why I have no business bitching about traffic.

      • Heh. You’re welcome, Jack. I had to leave my blogging job because it was just too demanding of my time, and unlike you, I was part of a larger group and couldn’t just ignore SEO and other traffic enhancers for artistic reasons. Frankly, that’s one of the reasons I left, along with the constant demand for more and more content. I was writing 10-15,000 words a week, and I just couldn’t continue. Eight years was long enough, anyway, and I had another business that needed much more attention. Just couldn’t do both

        So I totally get it. I just wanted to throw that out there. The Facebook page is something you really should strongly consider, though, as that will allow two streams of eyeballs for almost no extra effort. Our studies about using Facebook in this way showed dramatic traffic increases. The rest you can just discard, as that one tweak ought to improve your traffic noticeably year over year. If you consider nothing else, do consider that one.

      • MARTIAL, the things that do attain
        The happy life, be these, I find :
        The riches left, not got with pain ;
        The fruitful ground, the quiet mind :

        The equal friend, no grudge, no strife ;
        No charge of rule, nor governance ;
        Without disease, the healthful life ;
        The household of continuance :

        The mean diet, no delicate fare ;
        True wisdom join’d with simpleness ;
        The night discharged of all care,
        Where wine the wit may not oppress :

        The faithful wife, without debate ;
        Such sleeps as may beguile the night.
        Contented with thine own estate ;
        Ne wish for Death, ne fear his might.

        -Henry Howard (Henry the 8th’s “last” victim)

  4. Jack wrote, The post that had the most comments in 2017 was a COTD, in fact: Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition” with 324, among the most ever. The author? Zoltar Speaks!”

    It’s nice to have planted an 810 word seed to inspire such a lengthy conversation on the abortion topic; however, I really have to give credit where credit is due. Those 324 comments (nearly 56,000 words) couldn’t have happened without the direct contributions from Chris and Extradimensional Cephalopod, between the two of them they had 49.9% of the comments and the majority of the rest of the comments were in direct or indirect response to their comments. Chris and Extradimensional Cephalopod earned the credit for the length of the thread, I can only take credit for the seed.

  5. #3 Yet another useless poll distributed to the American people as if it actually meant something significant.

    That poll is another pile of useless partisan drivel, it’s propaganda to feed psychologically obsessed Progressives. These kinds of propaganda polls are pro-ignorance and anti-intelligence; just another effective tool used by Progressives in the deliberate dumbing down of America.

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