Tag Archives: headlines

The Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Project: Seeking Ethics Distinctions Among Web Hoaxes, False Narratives,”Fake News” And Negligent, Incompetent or Biased Reporting (PART I: The New York Times School Voucher Headline)

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

Yesterday’s New York Times included a story headlined  Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It, and it stated,

The odds are good that privatizing education will be part of the agenda for President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration. […] You might think that most economists agree with this overall approach, because economists generally like free markets. For example, over 90 percent of the members of the University of Chicago’s panel of leading economists thought that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft made consumers better off by providing competition for the highly regulated taxi industry.But economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education. Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.

That summation, however, was misleading to the point of falsehood. As the Scott Alexander points out at his blog Slate Star Codex,  the source for the story indicated something quite different—materially different:

economists_views

Got that? Scott Alexander writes:

Continue reading

32 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, language, U.S. Society

“Fake News” Of The Day: Nate Silver Says Clinton “Almost Certainly” Would Be President If Not For Comey

A bit bored, are we, Nate?

A bit bored, are we, Nate? Not a football fan?

The Left’s fury over the fact that their certifiably awful candidate somehow managed to lose to even more certifiably awful Donald Trump is unabated. Indeed, it seems to be getting worse, as Democrats, progressives and social justice warriors continue to reveal themselves as poor losers and lousy citizens—but spectacular hypocrites—by both trying to undo the election and attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the President Elect before he even moves in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. At the same time, the Democratic Party is teaching our children, if they read Politico, that denying accountability and blaming others for your own botches is acceptable adult behavior. It wasn’t their fault that they managed to blow an election against an adversary they publicly wished for. It was the Russians! The FBI! The Electoral College! The news media! The voters hate women–even women hate women!

It was Hillary Clinton, of course, but never mind. Yesterday’s headline in The Washington Examiner and a few other news sources are sure to give the Democrats solace: Nate Silver (the acclaimed statistics guru who nonetheless joined other poll-readers to pronounce Hillary an odds on favorite to win on November 12 but with a bit less certainly than the rest, so he remains a genius by being less wrong), it said, had pronounced that “Clinton ‘almost certainly’ would be president if not for Comey.”

This is fake news. Why? I could go into detail about why it’s an irresponsible opinion and based on logical fallacies as well as confirmation bias, which Nate is supposed to understand, but that wouldn’t make the story fake news. It is fake news because Silver never said what the headline claims.

Silver, who actual writes up positions he believes are accurate on his blog, apparently was bored on Sunday so he began musing in a series of tweets.

“Comey had a large, measurable impact on the race. Harder to say with Russia/Wikileaks because it was drip-drip-drip,” he said in the first. This became, in the Examiner story, “Comey had a large, measurable impact on the race,” leaving out the second part of the tweet, the part that meant “I think, but it’s impossible to be sure because other things were happening too.”

I have to say, Nate is really sloppy here. One way Comey had a larger impact than he should have was because of the way the Clinton campaign reacted to his first letter, which he was ethically obligated to write. They sicced other lawyers on him (lawyers who were looking for jobs in the upcoming Clinton Administration); they even accused him of breaking the law, which was ridiculous. They made themselves, that is, Hillary, look guilty by attacking the same guy they had called a great American just a couple of months earlier for not recommending that the candidate be indicted. Continue reading

51 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Social Media

Ethics Observations On This Kind Of Post-Election Hate, Those Who Write It, And Those Who Believe It [UPDATED]

thanksgiving-conflict

The piece in question is one published in The Daily Banter. The author is Justin Rosario, self-described as a “center-left Jewish-Puerto Rican atheist liberal.” His essay came out just before Thanksgiving, and he titled it, Yes, You Should Shame Your Trump Voting Relatives At Thanksgiving Dinner
(They’ve gone beyond politics and should be treated like the pariahs they are).

Here are the guts of it, when he explains exactly what your Trump-voting relatives “are”:

They’re the people in Germany who stood by and watched the Jews be herded into concentration camps and murdered. Except they’re worse because at least the Germans had never seen anything like the rise of Hitler before. They had no frame of reference to understand what was happening to their country. Your Donald voting relatives have heard and read about Nazis their entire lives. They know and they didn’t care.

Yes, they will have a million excuses for why they voted for someone they knew was a monster but they’re all bullshit. It wasn’t the economy. It wasn’t ISIS. It wasn’t unemployment. It wasn’t Hillary’s emails. It wasn’t Bill’s affairs. It wasn’t Washington corruption. Every single reason they give is a lie and they know it. They wanted one thing and one thing only: To take “their” country back from that fucking n*gger in the White House. That’s it. End of line. Full stop.

Your Donald voting relatives were so freaked out that a black man was president that once Donald told them it was not just permissible to be racist but necessary, they leapt at the chance to put Those People back in their place. And in doing so, they knowingly elected a man that will be all the things they were so afraid Obama was going to be: A tyrant. A dictator. A bully. An autocratic pig that will disregard the rule of law and treat America like his own personal playground. A brutal despot that will silence the media, arrest his political opponents and use the full power of the government to destroy his enemies.

Observations: Continue reading

109 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Romance and Relationships, Social Media, U.S. Society

“The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral”? Only If You’re In Denial, Mr. Chait!

That should be "lessons," plural...

That should be “lessons,” plural...

The many outbursts of  liberal anger, resentment, accusations and denial over the election have been revealing, and not in a good way. Few have been as directly and stubbornly misguided and biased, however, as the current New York Magazine article by Jonathan Chait, with the clickbait title, “The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral.”

It is, in essence, yet another example of Democrats attempting to argue away any accountability for their own misfortune, making Chait’s piece itself a denial of several moral lessons, such as “I am the architect of my own destiny,” “Take responsibility for your failures,” and “Don’t blame others for your own mistakes.” The post-election progressive freak-out, of which Chait is a part, also has a very important moral lesson in store, the one embodied in the Serenity Prayer authored by theologian and philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the  courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Clearly, this moral lesson is completely elusive, with pointless recounts underway supported by the Clinton campaign; round the clock complaining about the Electoral College, part of the 225 year-old rules of the game the Democrats accepted when they ran a candidate in the election; unethical and futile attempts intimidate electors or convince them to violate their vows;  embarrassingly infantile laments and near-breakdowns of whining students on college campuses,; and “Not My President!” protests and riots.

The lessons are there to learn, Jonathan, you just don’t want to learn them. He actually writes—and if this isn’t denial, I don’t know what is, “It is hard to think of an election defeat more singularly absent of important lessons.”  What??? To the contrary, it is hard to think of an election that taught more important lessons than this one. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

“Fake News” Ethics: Top Ten Culprits (And Facebook Isn’t One Of Them)

pope-trump

“Fake News” is now a big topic in the news media, as it tries to lead public attention away from legitimate scrutiny of its own bias and incompetence, Facebook, in particular, is the target of this outcry, because the false narrative (should Facebook also be helped responsible for policing false narratives?) that fake news drove Donald Trump’s shocking victory is more palatable than the accurate narrative that Trump was opposed by the only candidate so corrupt, dishonest and inept that he had a chance of winning.

Here’s an interesting study of how Facebook’s algorithms circulates news stories that are made up. The focus on this kind of fake news, however, creates a fake picture of the problem that over-emphasizes hoax stories, many of which, apparently, come from teens in Macedonia exploiting American online gullibility for profit. The problem is that Americans are so ignorant that when some of them read a story that says  the Pope endorsed Donald Trump, they believe it. (Popes don’t endorse presidential candidates, and if anyone conscious thinks about it for five minutes, they should be able to figure out why.) The problem is that 40% of Americans are so lazy that they get their news from social media (and another chunk gets its news from comedy shows.)

The Blame Facebook theory is that because Facebook is foolishly relied upon by inept and gullible citizens to get their information about the world, Facebook has to take on the impossible task of vetting news items.

Facebook, however, is neither trustworthy nor competent to do this. Facebook is biased. Facebook is overrun with social justice warriors whose idea of what Facebook should censor is anything that offends them. For example:

Mark Zuckerberg had to fend off employees during the U.S. presidential campaign who wanted to censor billionaire Donald Trump’s posts due to alleged hate speech. Controversial statements by Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in December forced Mr. Zuckerberg to quash a mini-mutiny of staffers who threatened to quit if they could not delete the candidate’s posts. Sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal that some of the comments in question involved a plan to ban Muslim immigrants while the U.S. determines how to best combat the Islamic State group.

Biased selections regarding which news to print while censoring the statements of a Presidential candidate are at least as misleading as fake news.

Presumably Facebook won’t try vet the misleading, dishonest news stories, commentary, links and memes I see flooding Facebook every day, courtesy of my nice, friendly, smart, educated, completely left-biased and right-biased friends who throw absolute garbage out as truth and immediately receive dozens of “Likes” for doing so. These are a lot more visible and just as brain-muddling as any Macedonian fiction. Here’s one example from yesterday, and to the good friend who posted it, I love you dearly but you are gullible and irresponsible:

BREAKING: Trump Announces Plan To ELIMINATE Overtime Pay For 20,000,000 Americans

This is completely false, as one would learn, sort of, by reading the story. Republicans are going to review regulations established in the last 60 days and kill the ones they think are ill-advised, as the law allows Congress to do. One that might be in jeopardy is a recent  rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half overtime to employees who make under roughly $47,000. The article also eventually says that it is House Republicans who say they are targeting the rule. So, to summarize:

  • Trump announced no such plan.
  • Nothing is being eliminated, since nobody has received any extra pay to be eliminated.
  • The alleged regulation cancellation wouldn’t take away overtime pay, as the headline states, but the requirement of paying overtime plus 50%.
  • Killing the rule wouldn’t take away such overtime or ban it; employers would still be free to pay time and a half at their discretion.

In short, the headline is fake news, designed to attack Trump. This kind of fake news isn’t included in the linked study, and for good reason. If we fairly call misleading headlines fake news, Facebook would be charged with vetting the mainstream media constantly. What about real quotes, from supposedly reliable people, that falsely spread rumors or specious accusations? Jim Comey did not violate the Hatch Act, as Harry Reid claimed. Trump is not a Nazi, as Howard Dean just claimed. Those quotes are just as misleading than nonsense about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump, but they are real quotes, from well-respected people who are being irresponsible. Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Social Media, U.S. Society

The Unethical Self-Delusion Of Open-Borders Supporters

She was killed because an illegal immigrant didn't want her to report that he was illegal, but her death had nothing to do with illegal immigration., or the fact that her killer was able to kill her because he was here illegally.

She was killed because an illegal immigrant didn’t want her to report that he was illegal, but her death had nothing to do with illegal immigration or the fact that her murderer was able to kill her because he was here illegally.

The New York Times op-ed headline online is (at least until someone at the Times figures out how damning it is)…

“My Wife’s Killer Was Not an ‘Illegal Immigrant’”

Author Andy Ostroy‘s wife, actress Adrienne Shelley, was murdered by an illegal immigrant, and the fact that the Times thinks this headline is a responsible one speaks volumes to the increasing dishonesty from Democrats and the news media on the issue of illegal immigration.

Ostroy ties himself into logical and ethical pretzels while explaining his kindly open-mindedness over the murder of his wife by “a 19-year-old undocumented Ecuadorean construction worker” who feared she would report him and have him deported. Writes Ostroy:

“Given the anger and grief I still feel, I could easily be seduced by Donald J. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that is the cornerstone of his presidential run. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said as he began his campaign in 2015. And in these final weeks before the election, rather than tacking to the middle, he seems to be doubling down. “We’ve got some bad hombres,” he said in last week’s debate, referring to immigrants who commit crimes.”

First, Donald Trump’s rhetoric is anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, not “anti-immigrant.” The intentional blurring of these two very different categories is a strategy of deceit. Any writer who engages in it has marked himself as untrustworthy, and any publication that does the same has also flagged itself as dishonest and biased.  The use of the intentionally vague term “undocumented” immigrant is similarly proof of unethical advocacy. The immigrants at issue are here illegally, hence they are illegal. If they had documentation that they were illegal, they would still be illegal, and if they had documentation that they were legal, that would be additionally illegal, since the documents would necessarily be false. Continue reading

96 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

The Doctor, The Emergency And The Flight Attendant: A Depressing Ethics Tale With No Ethical Resolution In Sight

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Tamika Cross, a young OB-GYN flying Delta from Detroit to Minneapolis,  heard flight attendants calling for medical assistance when a passenger  man two rows in front of her was found to be unconscious. Dr. Cross raised her hand, only to be told, according to Cross’s subsequent Facebook post on the incident, “Oh no, sweetie, put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

Cross says she tried to  explain that she was a physician, but was “cut off by condescending remarks,” from the attendant. A moment later, when there was a second call for medical assistance and Cross again indicated that she was ready to help, the same flight attendant said, according to Cross, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” She then quizzed Cross  about her credentials, area of practice, and where she worked. In the meantime, a white, middle-aged male passenger appeared, and Cross, she says, was dismissed.

On her now viral Facebook post, Dr. Cross concludes:

“She came and apologized to me several times and offering me Skymiles. I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this….and I will still get my Skymiles….”

What’s going on here?

Stipulated:

1. This was an emergency situation.

2. Dr. Cross sincerely felt insulted and treated with disrespect.

3. She also feels that she was the victim of stereotyping,, bias and prejudice.

4. Her account can be presumed to be an honest recounting of how she experienced the episode.

5. The Roshomon principles apply. We do not know how the flight attendant perceived the situation as it developed, and will never know, since the incident is already tainted with accusations of racism.

6. This was an emergency situation.

7. There is no way to determine what the flight attendant was thinking.

8. Despite all of the above, observers, analysts and others will be inclined see the event as confirmation of their own already determined beliefs and assumptions.

9. This was a single incident, involving a set of factors interacting in unpredictable ways.

Next, some ethical observations…. Continue reading

59 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Professions, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace