J.C. Moore Online
Current Events from a Science Perspective

Posts Tagged ‘misinformation’

Bits and Pieces 14: Misinformation Trumps Facts on the Economy

Fri ,23/08/2013

  • There has been a tremendous amount of worry about the US deficit, but most of it is stirred up by propaganda that ignores the economic data. Here is what the Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, had to say about the deficit.
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Here is the data that shows what he means.


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The Motley Fool reported on a recent Google consumer survey which asked the question, “How do you think the US Federal Government’s yearly budget deficit has changed since January 2010?” With 665 responses from around the country spanning a wide variety of demographics, here’s what it found. Respondents thought the deficit had:

Increased a lot      41%

Increased a little   14%

About the same     24%

Why are so many people getting it wrong? They get misinformation from their Congressional Representatives, who should know better. Many of the Representatives  probably do, but why tell the truth if misinformation works to their advantage?

(c) 2013  J.C. Moore

Responsibility and the Freedom of Speech

Fri ,14/01/2011

Democracy is based on the idea that in a free exchange of ideas, the truth will win out. Speech designed to mislead, misinform, or intimidate is an anathema to our purpose. We are guaranteed a right to free speech and we should use it wisely.

Free Speech: We won our independence from England and established a democracy that allows for a peaceful change of laws and leadership by ballot. The one time we tried another path, we had the Civil War, the most destructive war in our history. Recently, we seem to have forgotten our motto “E Pluribus Unum”. There are some who wish to divide us for their own purposes. Speech designed to mislead, misinform, or intimidate is an anathema to our purpose. Democracy is based on the idea that in a free exchange of ideas, the truth will win out. We are guaranteed a right to free speech and we should use it wisely. –

Free Speech And Responsibility: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every political figure, media personality, inclusive of all social media outlets and inclusive of all their respective contributors to use their freedom of speech wisely and in a manner that is considerate of the fact that there are delusional and unbalanced people in our midst who may interpret some statements too literally and seek to act upon them in a tragic way.” by Tom Vermillion

Discourage Hate Speech: There have been a number of articles and posts in the aftermath of Congresswoman Giffords being shot. Many wonder if it may have been the result of hate speech by some of our public figures and media entertainers. Whether the incident turns out to be caused by hate speech or not, now is a good time to try to put an end to hate speech. Several people have suggested things we may do. The one we can surely do something about is to stop using or encouraging hate speech ourselves.

The Americans United for Civility Petition below is a nonpartisan effort to encourage civility in our private and public speech.
WE THE UNDERSIGNED American citizens,

Mournful of the deaths of many at the hands of one in Tucson,

Inspired by the bravery of heroes who risked their lives to save others, and

Mindful of the present state of incivility which exists in public discourse;

Do hereby call upon elected officials, all media, and fellow citizens to:

Reflect upon the recent tragedy,

Examine their contribution to our present political climate, and

Commit to discourse that is civil and does honor to the United States of America.

.                                                                            by Stephanie Hampton

If you think this is a worthwhile cause, you may sign the petition online at: The Americans United for Civility Petition. And, please pass it on to others.

More You Can Do: No matter your affiliation, hateful, misleading, or disrespectful speech by our leaders and representatives is unacceptable. Write your representatives and ask them to go on record as condemning it. Let those who do it know it is not acceptable. Speak up when it comes up at town hall and campaign meetings. Point it out in letters to the editors or on your local newspaper’s web sites. Stop supporting candidates that use hate speech and let them know why. Refrain from using inflammatory language in your replies and focus on the issues and the facts. Our nation has many problems that need workable solutions. We must join together to solve them.

(C) 2011 J.C. Moore

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Bits and Pieces 1: Do Scientists Keep Secrets?

Tue ,20/07/2010

Complaints about  “scientific secrecy” are disingenuous: There is very little secrecy in science. Scientific papers are presented and openly debated at meetings where anyone can attend. The peer reviewed papers include the data, the results, and the reasoning and are available at public libraries and many are now online. Also:

Researchers are required to keep records of their research so that any other scientist with comparable training and skills could reproduce the research. The “reproducibility” of the research is an important factor in the reviewer’s evaluation of the research. The public has a right to information produced by publicly funded research and that may be requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Usually a “Gatekeeper”, such as the project’s director, is designated to handle FOIA requests. That Gatekeeper has a responsibility to see not only that the public’s rights are upheld, but also to see that the FOIA process is not abused and that the scientists are protected. (1)

Only a few things are kept confidential to preserve the integrity of the peer review process.  The main barriers preventing a better understanding of science by the public is not “secrecy”, but poor science education, the lack of responsible and informative reporting by the media, and an ongoing campaign to spread misinformation by those who find the conclusions of science inconvenient to their ideological or financial interests.

Coffee, Tea, and Civility

Wed ,31/03/2010

There was quite a contrast between the Tea Party and the Coffee Party meetings. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were at the Tulsa Convention Center this month to kick off their “Take Back the Country Program.” In front of about 6,000 enthusiastic Tea Partiers, they criticized President Obama’s administration, Washington politicians, progressives, journalists, Democrats, liberals, moderates, and conservatives who actually want to conserve something. The ex-governor of Alaska took shots at Obama — whom the crowd booed — and made fun of the Democratic congressional leaders. An animated Beck attacked progressives, saying they are for revolutionary government intrusion and they misinterpret the Constitution as a living document. (He is apparently unaware of the 27 Amendments). The crowd was really upset that they are subject to taxes and regulations and they want to take their country back. A small group of protesters stood outside the Convention Center holding American flags and signs saying “Take our Country Forward” and “Say no to hate and fear-mongering.” That’s not likely as Palin and Beck have found the power of hate and fear -and also the profitability. They each received a large, but undisclosed, fee for their performance.

In contrast, across town was the organizational meeting of the Coffee Party. They are people also unhappy about how things are going in Washington, but they have a very different plan for addressing the problem. The Coffee Party is a National movement being formed from citizens who think that government has a proper role in our lives and who just want it to function. The goals of the Coffee Party are to end the partisanship that has kept the government from functioning, to halt the flow of misinformation, and to end the hate some people have against those who disagree with them. To join the Coffee Party, you just have to agree with the pledge:

I agree to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.

Issues brought up at the Coffee Party meeting were partisanship, health care, the environment, banking reform, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, job creation, corporate lobbying, the national debt, and the flow of misinformation. The group agreed that an individual could not solve these problems alone, but that we should take “E Pluribus Unum” seriously. We may have very different ideas and viewpoints, but we must put those aside and work together to solve the problems facing us as a country. The most important thing that we can do as individuals is to abide by our pledge and to support candidates, both Democrat and Republican, who are willing to work with the other party in a civil fashion to solve the problems confronting us.