Tag Archives: FOX News

When the Wisdom of the Crowd Fails

A couple of weeks ago the  (SCOTUS) ruled that the (otherwise referred to as ) was . This ruling did not come without controversy because, as with most cases brought before the Supreme Court, there were people who disagreed with the ruling.

More to my point though, is that there was controversy because of the lack of agreement amongst the news agencies as to what the ruling was in the first few minutes that it was released. If you like political humor/satire, then you’ll definitely want to check out about the mixup. Interestingly, one of the best on the morning that the decision was released comes from the same website that is being of the decision.

As you’ll have seen if you watched the coverage, read about it, or clicked through to the clip from , CNN was the first agency to report on the decision — but — their reporting was wrong. Immediately after CNN reported the (wrong) decision, those with access to technology began perpetuating the wrong news to their social networks. Shortly after CNN incorrectly reported the news, SCOTUSblog put forth their interpretation and the subsequent major news agencies fell in line reporting the right decision. Even after this happened, CNN and FOX News continued to report the news incorrectly.

This situation brings to light what I see as a potentially major of our ability to connect with hundreds of millions of people in an instant (read: ). As soon as the reports from CNN and FOXNews came out, everyone began telling everyone else the wrong news. This spread quickly. When the right information was thrown into the mix, it became hard for people to know who was right. Were CNN and FOX News right because they had it first? Were SCOTUSblog and other news agencies right because they took the time to read more than the ?

Regardless of who’s right and wrong in this situation, it left people confused and unsure of whom to trust. Different news agencies were telling them different things (about the facts). Now, this happens on a , but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

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I’m beginning to wonder about the and it would appear that I’m not the only one. I came across an interesting article this weekend from called, “.” There were some interesting points made by Leonhardt, particularly as they relate to how some folks have begun to trust the “wisdom of crowds” as showcased by websites like  (an online trading exchange website where people can bet on events in a similar fashion to how people can buy/sell stocks).

Some folks think that the internet can be viewed in the same way (wisdom of the crowd). I’m not sure how I feel about this, especially when a well-respected news agency like CNN that’s been operational for over 30 years can make a mistake like this and set the internet ablaze. I like the last paragraph from Leonhardt:

After several years in which the market was often celebrated as a crystal ball, the Supreme Court ruling was a useful corrective. The prediction-market revolution, like so many others, initially promised more than it could deliver. But it’s not as if the old order was working particularly well.

The News Will Happen With Or Without You

Times Square, New York, NYC, Manhattan, downtown new york, ny, There are many people (myself included, sometimes) who get caught up in the news. “Did you hear what happened? No what happened?” In the age of , the way in which the news in conveyed can be very compelling. Meaning, it’s not necessarily the content that’s attracting us, but the vessel by which it is delivered. Because of this compelling nature, we can sometimes (myself included), be so compelled as to follow the news — religiously.

I have nothing against the “news” as factual messages being conveyed, but I do think that sometimes, one can take their knowing the news a little bit too seriously. What do I mean by this? Have you ever met someone who couldn’t go 2 hours without getting their update from CNN, FOX News, or MSNBC? Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with people wanting to be informed, in fact, I’d encourage it, to a point, of course. (See my post about for more on that.) Staying informed can be an important way to know what’s going on in the community, the state/province, the country, and the world.

Do you ever get the sense that sometimes, these people (or you?) feel that if you don’t follow the news, something really big might happen and you’ll miss it? While that might happen, when “big” things happen, you don’t necessarily need a news outlet to tell you about it. Yes, if you were watching the news, you’d know the second it happens, but nowadays (with everyone following the news by the second), they are bound to bring it up in conversation. “Hey, did you hear about the tsunami in Japan?” “Did you hear about the earthquake in Virginia?” These types of things get talked about.

Unless it’s your job, (and maybe even if it is your job), I’d bet that you probably could use a break from the news. About a month ago, I wrote a post asking, “” I wrote that post particularly for those of us that have a habit of staying very connected to our electronic devices. I’d encourage you to go back to that post and substitute electronic devices for news. The same basic message still applies. Taking a vacation from the news is sometimes just as important as taking a vacation from your electronics (and usually goes hand-in-hand).

Taking this break from the news may just clarify for you what type of news you want to be consuming. You may find that after taking a break from the news, you really don’t want to get Google! News updates for every time an article is written about Sarah Palin or every time someone mentions the US Department of Defense. You may find that you want to start reading more positive news sources like . Most importantly, I hope that by taking a break from the news that you realize — it never ends. The spigot of the news is a powerful force… a never-ending source.

A Rose By Any Other Name: Labels for Political Ideologies and Parties

I was watching some old episodes of on the weekend and I came across two scenes that I think epitomize part of the problem with politics today. Both scenes are from and the first one is of a Republican lawyer, Ainsley Hayes, speaking with two other Republicans about how the White House offered Ainsley a job. The two Republicans talking to Ainsley aren’t speaking too kindly of their Democratic counterparts.

In the second clip, Ainsley Hayes has accompanied Sam Seaborn to a meeting on Capitol Hill that Sam is to have with Congressional aides. Seaborn is trying to convince these aides (to convince their bosses who are Senators), to vote for a bill.

In the first clip, we see Ainsley have an epiphany of sorts about the people she had met on her interview/tour of the White House. After listening to her fellow Republicans speak negatively about the people she’d met, she stands in their defense. In the second clip, Ainsley, speaking to Republican aides, identifies their true intent — “beat the White House.” Instead of coming together for what was right or for what was good, these aides (and by extension, the Senators), were more interested in finding a way to best the White House (and by extension, the party in power — the Democrats).

One of my favorite clips on the issue of “dueling political ideologies” comes from a comedian, of all places. Chris Rock, while a little vulgar in his description, makes an extremely important point. (.) Because of the vulgarity, I have chosen to link to the clip. I can assure that the only vulgarity in the clip is Rock’s swearing.

In the clip, Rock purports that people can get too tied down to a political position based on their affiliation to a party (or an ideology). People who call themselves , before even hearing the issue, sometimes, decide that they are going to fall on the more liberal side of the argument. Likewise, people who call themselves , before even hearing the issue, sometimes, decide they are going to fall on the more conservative side of the argument. I have no issue with people choosing to be view an issue from one slant or the other, but what irks me (and Chris Rock) is when people make up their mind about something before they hear the issue!

For example, I can’t possibly think that I’ve received the full scope of an issue if I just watch MSNBC (). Likewise, I can’t expect to have received the full scope of an issue if I just watch FOX News (). As well, it is important that people who watch these networks understand that in the news they receive from them, they are consuming a particular slant.

I understand that there is a compulsion by some to label everything in the visible (and non-visible) parts of the universe and that in doing so, of course, there needs to be names for political ideologies. Moreover, having names for political parties makes it easier to group together people who are behind a certain cause, but is it really necessary? Do we really have to have a “” of people who call themselves the Democrats or the Republicans? Can’t we just have a full of ? Can’t we just elect people , not their particular stance on when a ?

Again, I understand how difficult this is to imagine — electing a politician not based on issues, but on judgment. And I understand that the way that the current structure of the political landscape (of most countries) is such that politicians are forced into joining party X or party Y, if they want to work to have their issues (that aren’t necessarily mainstream) championed. However, I would like to point out the likes of of the Green Party of Canada and Independent Senator of Vermont as two outliers that show that it is possible to get elected without being affiliated with one of the mainstream parties of a country.

Aren’t We All Just Baby Chicks Following a Mother Hen?

Because of where I live, I have the great fortune of being able to look out my window and see an abundance of roosters. And because of this abundance of roosters, undoubtedly, there are a number of baby chicks. These baby chicks don’t just wander aimlessly across the lawn looking for food or something to do. These baby chicks, instead, are quite deliberate in their actions. In fact, these baby chicks follow around the mother hen. Partially, because their life depends upon it. Maybe not where I live, but in some parts of the world, if a baby chick strays to far from momma, it’s likely to be another creature’s tasty snack.

As I watched these baby chicks following the mother hen, I looked a little closer at their actions. I wanted to see why it was they were following mother around. From what I was able to gather, these baby chicks are following mother around because they’re safer (read: ), but more than that, mother hen shows them what’s foot and what’s not food. This may have been some sort of anomaly, but from the dozens of  minutes I was able to watch (on different days), the hens would go to an area of the lawn and then call the chicks over to where she was (usually a distance of mere away). The mother hen would then begin pecking away at the grass (or something on the lawn) and the baby chicks would follow suit.

I soon learned, just from watching, that this was how the baby chicks were able to eat. Either the mom was helping to pull something up out of the ground or she was identifying what was nutritious for the baby chicks. The mother hen would vary her time in how long she spent in an area. When she left one area, some of the baby chicks would immediately follow her, while others, remained behind (to pick-up the scraps?) As I continued to watch the dynamics of the situation, I began to be able to notice parallels to the news of society.

The different big-branded news corporations (, , , , , etc.) are all like mother hens and us, the viewers, are like baby chicks. When one of these news conglomerates reports on a story, immediately, our attention is drawn to that area of the world. When one of the mother hens calls the baby chicks attention to one area of the lawn, immediately, that is where their attention goes. The chicks run over to see what’s happening. Like the baby chicks, the viewers become immediately concerned with whatever is being reported to them.

When a reporter or hen talks about a certain story, they are drawing your attention to that story. Unintentionally or not, they are also drawing your attention away from any other story that they could have reported on. As the reporter moves onto another story the next day, some viewers move onto the next story with them, while some viewers stay enveloped in “yesterday’s news.” Sometimes, this is for good (maybe their favorite team won a big game) and sometimes it’s maybe for not so good reasons (?)

Being able to watch these baby chicks follow around the mother hen allowed me to see something that is played out in society time and time again. Somebody (the hen) says xyz is important, so instantly, everyone else (the baby chicks) buy-in to the story to see just what xyz about. My point in this story about the hen and the baby chicks is that all of us, in one way or another, is following around a hen. Whether we watch the news on any particular station, read about news on the internet, or get our news from our friends. Regardless, our attention is being drawn to a story (more times than not) because someone said it was important. I think it is paramount to remember that had we been following a different hen, our views, beliefs, and ideas about the world would likely be completely different.