Monday, October 27, 2014

Considerata On Journalists and Experts

Condensed from a 2013 article by  Tom Verenna 

When it comes to defining ‘scholars’, journalists seem to have the hardest time actually determining who fits the bill; those that actually have earned that title are confused, for instance, with scientists (and are sometimes labeled as such), whereas those with no credibility whatsoever are given the esteemed honor of being a ‘scholar’ or ‘historian’ or ‘expert’.

First, a layperson who self-publishes a book on something isn’t an ‘expert’.  They may be considered an enthusiast, an amateur, a hobbyist, a thrill-seeker.  These are polite titles.  More often than not, however, people who only self-publish do so because they do not want to have their ideas vetted by pesky things like editors, peers, or actual experts.  So less polite, but certainly more accurate, titles for many of these sorts of individuals might be ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘loon’, or ‘Indiana Jones Wanna-be’ (actually this isn’t a complement).

Second, let us stop calling the self-published tomes of these sorts of people, who have zero credibility, ‘theses’.  This isn’t a thesis. To a layperson, with no background in the relevant field, any claim or argument that is new to them will appear to be ground-breaking.  That doesn’t mean that it is actually new, or useful, or even correct.

The purpose of peer review, of academic vetting, is to determine how well an argument or hypothesis can withstand criticism.  If the author of this book does not bother to go through this process, even unofficially, by having his book examined by experts prior to publication, then s/he does not have any grounds to claim that it is anything spectacular. That isn’t to say that an uncredentialed person cannot produce a solid book on a subject.  It may actually be ground-breaking, it may be earth-shattering, but if it hasn’t been vetted by other people with credentials then there is no means by which one can claim that it is.

Fair and Balanced??
Third, if you are ever unsure about whether or not someone has produced a new theory, and you are curious if this individual is trustworthy, as a journalist you have several options: (1) Google their CV—if they have a CV, check to see if they have some credibility (are academically published, have formal education or training in the relevant fields, etc…), (2) if you don’t trust Google, ask other scholars (your local University has them; they are underpaid—but they will help you), (3) engage with the material yourself (instead of, you know, just republishing the PR Web article or press release without any critical thoughts about it), (4) provide a basic caveat emptor that you are (presumably, as a journalist) not qualified to judge the arguments in the book and request your readers investigate the issue on their own critically, (5) don’t automatically label them as a Scholar, but look for signs (do they have a graduate degree or doctorate? Have they at least been published academically? Have they some engagement with scholars in a critical way? Are other scholars—not laypeople—praising their work? Aim for at least two of these three things before giving an individual press time).

What is perhaps most important to remember is that what you write will resonate with laypeople—your work, as journalists for professional news outlets, gives legitimacy to an idea.  So choose wisely and carefully.  It is your responsibility to examine the individual and the sources and their theories before you write on them.  If you fail to do so, you fail your audience.  The second you publish that article, it will be shared one-hundred, one-thousand, perhaps tens-of-thousands of times during its lifespan (before being dumped into a pay-wall archive).  So please, for the love of Pete, take the time needed to make sure that you are not putting a crank and their crazy conspiracy theory on a pedestal before you publish.  There is nothing more embarrassing for a journalist, I imagine, than highlighting a concept that is absolutely beyond credible.  And it drives people like me, who take history seriously, to drink.

Cross Posted Here

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rush Limbaugh on Carol Costello: "Now, here's Carol Costello, a supposed feminist, a supposed opponent of violence against women.

I mean, would just be angry as hell if any other woman had been treated this way. Had they been attacked and it was on audiotape and she was playing it, she would be righteously indignant and probably blaming the Republican War on Women. But here she's eating it up. Here she just loves it, a supposed feminist, a supposed opponent of violence against women, presented an audiotape of a young woman describing being attacked and beaten by a bunch of drunken men as the most delicious thing she had ever heard in her life. "

Andrea Tantaros on Obama: “He has blamed everyone else but himself."

It’s the media’s fault. He says it’s our fault because we don’t understand ObamaCare. He thinks it’s everybody’s fault but his. He’s incredibly arrogant.

Andrea Tantaros: “Chrissy Teigen is known for, obviously, her lovely bottom, and her food Instagram pictures. She should stick to that.”

Washington Post's All-Male Masthead Somehow Eludes Rachel Maddow's Scrutiny

Washington Post's All-Male Masthead Somehow Eludes Rachel Maddow's Scrutiny

Bill O'Reilly & Laura Ingraham Slam CNN's Carol Costello for Jokes About Alleged Assault on Bristol Palin


Crooks & Liars Writer Feels Getting Shot Randomly by low income is worse then by a terrorist

At least that's how one could interpret her editorializing of Bill O'Reilly's  talking points commentary where he said that the number one problem in the word is "Muslim Terrorism."

The author of the article uses the name "Heather." (Ever notice so  many "brave" left websites are loaded with authors who do not bother to use their own names? Heaven forbid that any of them could be held accountable for writing anything stupid ):

Bill O'Reilly took his turn piling onto President Obama over the Ottawa shooting this week, and pretending that he just wants to coddle the Islamic terrorists during his Talking Points Memo this Thursday night. He also used the occasion to proclaim that our number one problem in the world is "Muslim Terrorism."

Not hunger, or poverty, or war, or income disparity, or disease, or the multitude of other problems that most people could rattle off pretty quickly if you asked them what real problems we have in the world that are making most of the world's population along with a good number of our fellow American citizens' lives miserable. Nope. The Islamic terrorists are coming to get you. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

I watched some of the accounts coming out of Washington's high school shooting today and one of the most common responses was "I just couldn't believe it could ever happen here." Granted it was not Muslim terrorism, but if you ever read accounts of terrorist attacks   the response is the same. That is why it is called terrorism. It strikes usually quite random and with no warning.

The list of things that the author feels are more important are certainly important but I'm not quite sure why the author thinks "war" and "terrorism" are different except that she has likely lived in what people think is a "safe bubble" in the USA where we haven't had wars on our home front. So we think it can't a happen here.  ISIS, however, DOES want it here. Hence, home grown terrorism.

Conservatives have been warning for years about the possibility of Jihad attacks here in the USA. Lefties mocked them every time. Conservatives said they would likely rise up from people who are currently in our own country. Still, even as it is happening, there are many still in denial or selective reality (which is basically the same).

"Heather" also mentioned disease. It has been that imaginary "safety bubble" that people live in here and especially in the USA that they think they are immune from Ebola. Some of them  who did get it  seem so surprised after they purposely did not follow all procedures to keep themselves safe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Conservatives Most Trusted: Wall Street Journal, The Blaze, Fox, Breitbart, Drudge, Hannity, Beck & Limbaugh

According to Pew Research. Liberals are very trusting (or gullible) as their most trusted are:: The Economist, BBC, NPR, PBS, Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, USA Today, Google, New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, The Guardian, Bloomberg, New Yorker, Politico, Yahoo News, Mother Jones, Slate, Huffington Post, Colbert Report, Think Progress, Daily Show, Daily Kos, Aljazeera America, and Ed Schultz.  I am not sure what it says when the Wall Street Journal (Owned by News Corp & Rupert Murdoch) is trusted by both extreme liberals and extreme conservatives.

Rick Santelli & Peter Schiff: Ending QE Will Plunge US Into Severe Recession