The Darker Side of the News

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:22 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:I don't know how to write a law.
That's not my point or purpose. Rather, I want people to think about what it means when they knee-jerk "There ought to be a law!" You're trying to legislate results, but the law proscribes actions. The trick is to:

1: Be specific about the result you want to avoid. Consider why this (and not that) is the result to be avoided. See for example, the war on drugs. What are we actually trying to fix, and is that the real problem?

2: Find the actions that lead to those results, and only lead to those results. Avoiding collateral damage is very important, unless you don't mind losing the freedoms that you cherish.

3: Find a method of enforcement that also does not cause collateral damage. It's well and good to proscribe gay sex, but how would you enforce such a law? It's fine to ban abortions on paper, but do you really want to go back to coat hangers?

4: Consider the societal impact of the mere fact of having this law. If you are doing nothing wrong, you shouldn't object, right? Well, who decides what is wrong? This administration? The next one?

Specifically with the proposal to "make fake news illegal", there is the practical aspect of who gets to decide which news is "fake" and which news is actually a real exposé of actual corruption and suppression. In a practical sense, it means goverment doing the deciding. This means Donald Trump would get to regulate the news.

Be careful what you wish for.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:24 pm UTC

Thank you for your condescending response, it's very helpful, and accurately responds to my non-existent post about blocking the internet from Russia and forcing everyone to read the NY Times every day.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:47 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:You guys keep assuming I'm having good ideas, when I already said I don't. In any case, I never said outlaw these pieces of writing. I said curate, and notify, and provide more information.

Well, they are already offering to do that, but it's very tricky.

In this day and age, not only do I see the BBC dismissed as biased, I even see Snopes discredited and condemned.

The problem is circular: People will only believe sites to be unbiased if they conform to their pre-existing views. If Facebook marks an article they like as 'fake news' they will assume Facebook has been commandeered by 'da man'...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:52 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Thank you for your condescending response, it's very helpful, and accurately responds to my non-existent post about blocking the internet from Russia and forcing everyone to read the NY Times every day.

Perhaps if you were clearer on just what should be made illegal, I wouldn't have to guess.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:54 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Zohar wrote:You guys keep assuming I'm having good ideas, when I already said I don't. In any case, I never said outlaw these pieces of writing. I said curate, and notify, and provide more information.

Well, they are already offering to do that, but it's very tricky.

In this day and age, not only do I see the BBC dismissed as biased, I even see Snopes discredited and condemned.

The problem is circular: People will only believe sites to be unbiased if they conform to their pre-existing views. If Facebook marks an article they like as 'fake news' they will assume Facebook has been commandeered by 'da man'...

During the German election, the officials kept everybody up to date as to Russian actions. Like they would post updates to the latest trolling, and which trending stories were false. This contrasts to the US election, where officials downplayed and didn't talk about Russian propaganda.
Right now there's a lot of denial with the GOP as to the extent of Russian influence. It might be too late given the fissures in the media with the media and the alt right.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Leovan » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:54 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Thank you for your condescending response, it's very helpful, and accurately responds to my non-existent post about blocking the internet from Russia and forcing everyone to read the NY Times every day.


Sorry we seem condescending. I think it's our frustration showing that like Quercus said: we're fucked.
We're trying to get legislation to stop someone from doing something that we like doing ourselves, but have no idea how to differentiate. And THEY like doing it themselves.
Alternatively we want to teach people to recognize propaganda, while governments and companies around the world are actively spending millions developing the means to make better propaganda. And the worst part is that education doesn't even help much. The best propaganda makes you actively want to believe it because it's either something you wish were true, or you're afraid it's true (Wizard's first rule). Even if you're pretty sure something is trying to manipulate you, the psychological hooks work. With good propaganda, they can tell you it's propaganda trying to get you to do X and yet it will still work! It really doesn't matter how smart or educated you are. You may be able to reject it for a short time, and some people are better at it than others, but they really only need to affect a few percent for an election.

The reason we're maybe condescending is that we want you to work on the same problem we are. It's a tough one and every person we can point the problem out to maybe has another idea. Because sadly I have no better ideas than you.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:56 pm UTC

That post was directed at ucim. If you want suggestions on how to fix media consumption in the modern world, may I suggest you open a Serious Business thread. Perhaps title it "Suggestions on how to fix media consumption in the modern world".
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:52 pm UTC

sardia wrote:During the German election, the officials kept everybody up to date as to Russian actions. Like they would post updates to the latest trolling, and which trending stories were false.

But that presupposes that people trust officials. That is so clearly not the case in the US that it shouldn't really even need spelling out.

And the UK is little better, with being labelled an 'expert' a term of abuse.

The German electorate are clearly more mature, more responsible, better educated or whatnot, and it would be great if the UK/US could move in that direction, but I suspect it's a cultural thing that might be quite hard to transplant.

(Actually, a big part of it is probably the electoral system: Two-party FPTP tends to polarise a lot more than multi-party PR. Fat chance of the US or UK moving to that any time soon...)

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:22 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
ucim wrote:The cure is in ourselves, but more than ever it is all ourselves.


So in other words, we're fucked.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but in all seriousness, a system that relies on the awareness, vigilance and thoughtfulness of everyone is doomed to failure. This isn't a "ha ha, people are stupid" post, but rather an acknowledgement that our society does not have the education system, nor does it generally give people the time, energy or incentives to become the sort of thinkers required for that. That isn't something that is easy, quick or cheap to change, and there is very little political will to even try (a majority of the populace that is easily manipulable is many politicians' ideal scenario). This is quite apart from Zohar's point, which is also very well made.


Broadly, I share this pessimism, but there are a couple of principles that can make things less worse.

One is that representative democracy is generally an improvement on direct democracy. At least in a representative system the public elects people whose job is to understand the complexity and nuance of issues and take those into account when making decisions. This insulates the decision making process somewhat from the influence of fake news and lies. In the UK we have a political class hamstrung by the result of an indicative referendum (on the EU) in which even the best informed amongst the electorate would have difficulty explaining many of the issues (I can't reliably separate the European Council, Council of Ministers, the Council of the EU and the European Commission in my mind, and have to look it up every time).

Now, arguably representative democracy didn't work that well in the case of Trump, but there are the checks and balances that seem to be kicking in. Note also that directly electing a president is closer to the direct democracy approach than what we do in the UK and many other European countries, where the leader has to have broad support from amongst the other representatives.

The other thing I'd throw in the pot is that perhaps we need to rediscover the idea of paying for impartial, well written content. Society seems to have got confused about intellectual products of late; or maybe we always were: perhaps we really thought we were paying for the actual paper and ink and the manufacturing cost of a newspaper, rather than the words it contained, but it didn't matter until everything when digital. The same could apply to social media: if we really though about the value to us of something like Facebook, might we not decide that we could pay for it instead of suffering advertising? This model already works to some extent for Spotify and Netflix. And you have Wikipedia funded by donations, The Guardian partly funded by a membership scheme, and other newspapers behind paywalls. Like Zohar, I don't have the answers, but it seems that a greater plurality in the way media are funded might help.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby cphite » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:33 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Zohar wrote:You guys keep assuming I'm having good ideas, when I already said I don't. In any case, I never said outlaw these pieces of writing. I said curate, and notify, and provide more information.


Well, they are already offering to do that, but it's very tricky.


On what basis are "they" qualified to do anything of the sort? And frankly, even if Facebook or whoever they entrust with the task are somehow qualified to determine what news is fake versus what is real; what makes you think they're not biased themselves? Facebook is above all else a business, do you really believe for a moment that they're not going to attempt to nudge popular opinion in ways that benefits their business?

In this day and age, not only do I see the BBC dismissed as biased, I even see Snopes discredited and condemned.


No news agency is immune from bias; not even the BBC. They all have biases based on their ownership, their major funding sources, their target audience, and so forth; it's inevitable.

Snopes is basically a handful of writers who like doing research. It's frankly a little weird how much faith people place in their conclusions. To be fair, it does seem like they're at least trying to be non biased; but that doesn't give them any sort of magic ability to detect truth above and beyond the rest of the web.

The problem is circular: People will only believe sites to be unbiased if they conform to their pre-existing views. If Facebook marks an article they like as 'fake news' they will assume Facebook has been commandeered by 'da man'...


Frankly, the moment that Facebook is deciding what is real or fake news in the first place - even if they get it right - firmly puts them in the category of 'da man'

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:47 pm UTC

cphite wrote:On what basis are "they" qualified to do anything of the sort? And frankly, even if Facebook or whoever they entrust with the task are somehow qualified to determine what news is fake versus what is real; what makes you think they're not biased themselves? Facebook is above all else a business, do you really believe for a moment that they're not going to attempt to nudge popular opinion in ways that benefits their business?


Exactly. That's why they are so reluctant to do so. Even if they do a good job people will impugn their motives. They literally can't win.

No news agency is immune from bias; not even the BBC. They all have biases based on their ownership, their major funding sources, their target audience, and so forth; it's inevitable.

Sure. But the point is they 'present their working', enabling you to see why they have come to any conclusion they do.

(In case you're not sure what I'm referring to, it's not their news coverage, though I think that's pretty good - as always you should get your news from a wide variety of sources so that any biases cancel out - it's their Reality Check section.)

Snopes is basically a handful of writers who like doing research. It's frankly a little weird how much faith people place in their conclusions. To be fair, it does seem like they're at least trying to be non biased; but that doesn't give them any sort of magic ability to detect truth above and beyond the rest of the web.


Again, you seem to be missing the point of sites such as Snopes. It's not meant to replace one 'appeal to authority' with another. How would that help with anything? It's meant to provide you with the tools to come to your own conclusion. eg. When they analyse Trump's inauguration audience, they don't just tell you he lied when he said it was the biggest ever, they actually point to the first hand sources so you can test his claim for yourself.

Frankly, the moment that Facebook is deciding what is real or fake news in the first place - even if they get it right - firmly puts them in the category of 'da man'


Well, yes. That's why I personally think the answer lies in a different direction.

As I said, noone would think to hold phone companies responsible for what consenting adults say to each other, and I don't think Facebook should be responsible for what consenting adults say to each other there either.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:00 pm UTC

There are a lot of differences between Facebook and phone companies. The main one relevant for this argument being - Facebook already regulates its content. It has clear community rules, even if they're shit and not actually enforced. It promotes specific content, both by users and by advertisers. It allows users to curate content on their own as well, by allowing us to hide some information.

Facebook already makes a lot of assumptions on what it thinks we would like, and changes our experience of the platform accordingly. They're obviously not the only ones - Google is doing the same thing with their search results, for example.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:22 pm UTC

Sure, but when my Aunt sends me a link to some fake news article or blog opinion piece, does Facebook really have a responsibility to read it first and decide on its truthiness?

If you say they do that's bad for all the reasons cphite outlines; And if you say they don't then nothing really changes.

The future is viral man.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:36 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:There are a lot of differences between Facebook and phone companies. The main one relevant for this argument being - Facebook already regulates its content...
Yes, and it treads just on this side of being a publisher. Ditto Google. But the phone companies allow their users to curate their own content too. The thing that makes this trivial and the other significant is that Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al put the content out in public. They are more like broadcasters than point-to-point communications tools.

But they are not quite broadcasters either. They are more like splattercasters. Their secret algorithms (and their users) deliver different content to each visitor. It will get worse. It's not at all farfetched to see these services custom rewriting the editorial content for each visitor based on the visitor's (secretly gathered) profile. It's a dangerous path.

However I don't see an easy solution, except perhaps one based on size. The problems caused by splattercasting only come to a head when the splattercaster is huge. So, if rules are to be made, I'd suggest that they should only apply to large splattercasters, and not to small ones (because applying them to smaller splattercasters would adversely affect an individual's freedom of speech). I'd suggest that splattercasting not be made illegal; it's really the only way that the seaish amount of content can be funneled to the users; nobody could possibly read it all. Some filtering is needed, and while the user does some filtering when they input search terms, it's the splattercaster who fulfills the filtering request, their way.

I'm a bit at a loss to figure out what rules to write, and how to enforce them, without becoming the arbiter of what is truly proper for a visitor to see. And I'm not sure that we've identified the exact problem that we are trying to fix. I mean, it's obvious, just like the war on drugs. Which means, everyone has their own incompatible idea, just like the war on drugs.

If you identify the wrong problem, you end up with the wrong solution.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:14 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Sure, but when my Aunt sends me a link to some fake news article or blog opinion piece, does Facebook really have a responsibility to read it first and decide on its truthiness?

If you aunt posts directly on your wall, then I believe FB doesn't do any curating. But if she posts it on her wall, then they definitely "read" the article and figure out if you might be interested. This isn't so different.

ucim wrote:But the phone companies allow their users to curate their own content too.

Not really - you could choose to have an unlisted number, but you can't stop someone from calling you or sending you text messages. If you have a land line you can't even stop them from hogging it for an hour until they decide to hang up.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:53 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
ucim wrote:But the phone companies allow their users to curate their own content too.

Not really - you could choose to have an unlisted number, but you can't stop someone from calling you or sending you text messages. If you have a land line you can't even stop them from hogging it for an hour until they decide to hang up.

This depends on the phone company. The "hog the line" trick no longer works in (I believe) most cases. You can't stop somebody from calling you, but (for a fee) you can block people numbers from reaching you, and you can pre-identify them. Yeah, texting is m*stard; not only can you not filter texts, you get charged for them; somebody else can run your bill up.

However, you decide what to say, and who to say it to. The phone company cannot (without the other party's direct involvement) re-route you to a "more appropriate" destination.

In any case, that's not the thing that makes it different. It's a one-to-one system (that used to be a protected monopoly). It's the degenerate case of many-to-many, so most of the many-to-many issues simply cannot crop up except in trivial senses.

Ultimately, the question is, "who do you want to have the power to decide whether something is truthy?" and "should this power be legally enshrined?".

(Uh... that's two questions...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ivnja » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:22 am UTC

ucim wrote:texting is m*stard

Is this OTT slang for something?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ucim » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:37 am UTC

ivnja wrote:
ucim wrote:texting is m*stard

Is this OTT slang for something?
Yes... it means "messed up" or FUBAR. It's an OTTish curse word referring to any kind of total screwup (or partial screwup, depending on whatever). It originates from the mustard color of what some people call an "error" in the Most Holy Frames of the One True Comic, which was "corrected" by the One True Author, whom we know is incapable of error, unless He wants to make one.

In any case, what I meant was that it's pretty unmolpish (OTTish slang for "not very pleasant") that other people can run up my cell bill without my consent by sending me texts I don't want (such as ads), and that is pretty messed up. From my POV of course, not from the cell carrier's POV.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:45 am UTC

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/o ... anda-segel
Turns out the brother of Harvey Weinstein also sexually harassed women. What a surprise.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:38 pm UTC


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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:57 am UTC

elasto wrote:Sure, but when my Aunt sends me a link to some fake news article or blog opinion piece, does Facebook really have a responsibility to read it first and decide on its truthiness?

If you say they do that's bad for all the reasons cphite outlines; And if you say they don't then nothing really changes.

The future is viral man.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:24 pm UTC

Oxford accused of 'social apartheid' as colleges admit no black students
The Guardian wrote:Nearly one in three Oxford colleges failed to admit a single black British A-level student in 2015, with the university accused of “social apartheid” over its admissions policies by the former education minister David Lammy.

The data shows that 10 out of 32 Oxford colleges did not award a place to a black British pupil with A-levels in 2015, the first time the university has released such figures since 2010. Oriel College only offered one place to a black British A-level student in six years.

Similar data released by Cambridge revealed that six colleges there failed to admit any black British A-level students in the same year.

[...]

Lammy said the figures showed that many colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge failed to reflect the UK’s population, and called into question the universities’ claims to national standing.

“This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” Lammy said.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:50 pm UTC

Okay, as an Oxford graduate, I believe that is utterly indefensible. Yes, Oxford and Cambridge are elitist, academically elitist. As someone who remains the only member of his family to go to to any university, and who's grandfather's job was breaking rocks on a roadside, I remain happy that the universities should be able to select on proven academic ability. If you haven't been able to demonstrate your ability irrespective of your background by 18 then education needs to be changed, rather than introduce social quotas in universities to gloss this over.

However, I don't believe that there can be a plausible excuse for such a marked discrimination on race or skin colour. That must be answered.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:06 pm UTC

So are these Oxford colleges different than Oxford university? Because an article from The Independent cites the initial "No black A level students accepted" but then ends with "The university said in 2016, 39 black British students were admitted for undergraduate study". Can someone explain the nomenclature here?

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:23 pm UTC

Oxford university is made up of a bunch of colleges. Technically I believe you don't get a degree from "Oxford University" but from a specific college that's part of the Oxford University group. What this article is saying is only a third of Oxford colleges, in Oxford university, had black students in 2015. The university as a whole did have some, in other colleges.

Cambridge university has the same structure, I think.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Angua » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:46 pm UTC

You get a degree from the University of Oxford. However, each college is basically like a weird sort of frat thing that does it's own board/food/tutorials (you get centralised teaching with students from other colleges as well). Everyone is affiliated to a college somehow though (students, post docs, lecturers, etc). Colleges do their own interviews (basically, you can choose which college you'd prefer on your application form or you can leave it blank, you interview at that one and a randomly selected one [the colleges don't know which you'd prefer] and then you get an offer - if one college likes more applicants than they have spaces for, then the other applicants end up in a pool if another college wants them).
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:09 pm UTC

Yep, spot on. Both our degrees read as ‘Oxon’ , meaning Oxford Honours, although we were at different colleges. If you were at Cambridge you’d write ‘Cantab’. I’m still shocked at the idea that there are Oxford colleges who have failed to attract any non-white students with appropriate academic credentials. I would have thought they should have highlighted and justified this as a means to force HMG to tackle the bias in the education system.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:11 am UTC

The issue is the 35 total. Black people represent 3% of the UK population, and the 35 appears to be around 1.5% of successful applicants, so black students are represented in about half the numbers that would be expected if everything were equal. Expressing it in terms of colleges with no black students admitted is a kind of statistical scare tactic, because colleges are actually quite small. The average is 1.2 black students per college, and applying the Poisson approximation to the binomial, the probability of having no black students in a given college is around 0.3. So you'd expect 10 out of 35 colleges to have no black students: those particular colleges aren't necessarily any worse than the others. Even if black students were admitted exactly in proportion to the background population, there would be a 10% chance of a given college having no black students, so three or four colleges having none ought not to be a surprise.

A factor of two in under-representation is definitely bad news, but statistics ought to be expressed in a way that's meaningful and allows us to get a proper handle on the problem. Likening it to apartheid is, in my opinion, offensive to the admissions tutors and interviewers, most of whom are trying their best to select the most able candidates irrespective of race, gender, background and all that. It also makes it sound like an easy problem -- you just have to stop barring black kids from your college and it will all be OK -- when in fact it's deeply complex and a symptom of wide-ranging problems in society at large.

(Another factor here is that, with the media and political establishment being based in London and other cities, the intuitive feeling for the ethnic minority proportions in the UK is probably quite far from the reality, since the proportions there are much higher. Even allowing for an Oxbridge college being about the size of a small primary school, the idea of having no black kids in an intake would be unimaginable).

Jumble wrote:Okay, as an Oxford graduate, I believe that is utterly indefensible. Yes, Oxford and Cambridge are elitist, academically elitist. As someone who remains the only member of his family to go to to any university, and who's grandfather's job was breaking rocks on a roadside, I remain happy that the universities should be able to select on proven academic ability. If you haven't been able to demonstrate your ability irrespective of your background by 18 then education needs to be changed, rather than introduce social quotas in universities to gloss this over.

However, I don't believe that there can be a plausible excuse for such a marked discrimination on race or skin colour. That must be answered.

This. The issue that the press initially focused on was around the low level of admissions from lower-income backgrounds and from the north of England, though I haven't looked through all the statistics properly, I'm not sure to what extent those are being exaggerated. There's a comparison quoted between number of admissions from the Home Counties compared to "the whole north of England", but the reports don't make it clear what the relative populations of those two regions are.

My problem with a lot of this is that it conflates different things. There's an ongoing narrative that talks about a ruling class from "Eton and Oxbridge", when those two are not the same thing at all. Eton is a very expensive "public" [=private] school that you have to come from a rich and well-connected family to attend. Oxford and Cambridge are intellectually elitist establishments for which you need to achieve excellent A-level results and/or pass in a special entrance exam and perform well in a difficult interview, in some combination. I went to a comprehensive, and worked damned hard to get my GCSEs and A-levels, to get into Cambridge and to get my degree; I think those things should count for something. Of course they shouldn't be the only factor, but they should be a factor. Those of us who perform better when allowed to plug away at something than when forced to sell ourselves in an interview deserve to have our proven track record of intellectual performance taken into account.

Of course, the narrative goes beyond the Oxbridge thing and says that intellectual elitism is a bad thing altogether - that our institutions shouldn't be run by intelligent people with extensive knowledge, high intelligence and good reasoning skills. I don't know what to say to that except that of course they should be.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:10 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:A factor of two in under-representation is definitely bad news, but statistics ought to be expressed in a way that's meaningful and allows us to get a proper handle on the problem.

Well now you're just talking crazy.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:48 am UTC

More population. More water use. Same rainfall? Climate change makes it unreliable and uneven. Same reservoir capacity means time-compressed high rainfall is "wasted" or even destructive. Many people, all driving because "cars are how you do it" there. Also lots of flying, lots of power generation, lots of everything that adds to CO2 emission. Droughts get worse. Eucalyptus throw water into the air. The portugese settlers in Madeira cleared forest near the coast and that became a problem so they brought in eucalyptus from Madagascar to get rid of the surplus surface water and now those are a problem too. Arseholes. You've got a strained water system, so strained it's made the news here year after year, and what, a twelve-year drought now? Sounds like a recipe for a fire. Houses are made of dried wood there, aren't they? Wooden frames, wooden floor boards, wooden ceiling panels, wooden slats outside and plastered wooden panels inside the walls, wood-framed armchairs, wooden tables, mostly wooden kitchens. They burn fast.

You mentioned Otter Rock in the run-up to the eclipse, right? It doesn't look all that threatened even by 7m of sea-level rise but that doesn't mean Oregon's immune. Just up the coast Pacific City isn't above the 3m level people were discussing this year, and they've got a lot of their farmland on the flat, fertile flood-plain of a river below that level. The south coast, though, where all the land is actually silt washed into shallow seas by long rivers and none of it's very high, is in trouble on that front.

How much river-flood depth can "yet another unprecendented" downpour add to a high tide?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:22 am UTC

South Coast? Funny.
I expected South Coast of Oregon.
A place where the people live in the fertile wet-lands.

Depot Bay will be fine,
I will be neck deep and wet.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:48 am UTC

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/th ... n-of-info/
Trump administration continues a pattern of suppressing any information that would make the administration look bad. All requests for info is forwarded to a PR office first.
Although the removal of the tables makes it more difficult to get information on one of the White House’s most prominent causes, it also seems like part of a trend in the Trump administration: the suppression of government data and an unwillingness to share information with the press and public. About two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the FEMA website stopped displaying key metrics relating to island residents’ access to drinkable water and electricity. The data was later restored. The early days of the Trump administration were marked by reports that federal agency employees had been instructed not to talk to the press and to restrict social media postings. The fact that the FBI Office of Public Affairs rather than the Advisory Policy Board determined which data tables to remove hearkens back to patterns of suppression from the George W. Bush administration. “They set up all these PR operations,” Clark said about the Bush administration’s tactics. “If a reporter called up and wanted to know about the Arctic, the scientists getting the question couldn’t answer and were required to send the reporter to the government PR person.”

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:29 am UTC

I appreciate Clare Malone's reporting. Harry's is often a whole bunch of tables and trends, which, while informative, isn't as gripping to read.

Re: the crime report, now the administration can continue to track those things they aren't detailing and release data on the ones that trend favorably in coming years, while suppressing the negative data.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Yablo » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:05 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Trump administration continues a pattern of suppressing any information that would make the administration look bad. All requests for info is forwarded to a PR office first.

And the Obama administration was any more transparent?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:07 pm UTC

Yablo wrote:
sardia wrote:Trump administration continues a pattern of suppressing any information that would make the administration look bad. All requests for info is forwarded to a PR office first.

And the Obama administration was any more transparent?

Um, yes, actually.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Yablo » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:21 pm UTC

Liri wrote:
Yablo wrote:
sardia wrote:Trump administration continues a pattern of suppressing any information that would make the administration look bad. All requests for info is forwarded to a PR office first.

And the Obama administration was any more transparent?

Um, yes, actually.

According to the New York Times, yeah. But they don't exactly have the best record on integrity or journalistic credibility. According to the Washington Post, Real Clear Politics, TownHall, Forbes, and plenty of others, Obama was anything but transparent.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:41 pm UTC

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier has admitted calling his secretary "sugar tits" and making her buy sex toys for him.

Mr Garnier also admitted that he and Ms Edmondson later fell out and that she had been using the incident against him "ever since".




I'm sure it's just a matter of following proper procedures and they didn't really mean to imply there was some way that could have been alright.

No, I'm not. I'm not sure. I'm not sure at all that the ministerial code of conduct prohibits a minister from calling his secretary "sugar tits" and sending her into a sex shop to buy dildos.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:08 pm UTC

Much of the coverage I've heard has been of commentators saying that the secretary should not have been made to feel embarassed.by doing this. Which, if she was, she shouldn't have been. But everybody seemed to use words and phrasing that indicate the secretary has absolutely no agency in this. I haven't yet heard one way or another (maybe it's mentioned in the articles you link, which I haven't read yet) if the secretary wasn't embarassed by this, other than in a pleasantly titilating way, 'cos there are all types, and horses for courses...

Obviously this is a big 'if'. But I was annoyed that by the time it got discussed on various topical news shows it was already blatently the worst case scenario. (And what might be worse is if the secretary was happy with the secret thrill of being 'forced' to buy sex toys, consensually in accordance with her own fetishistic tendencies, but never wanted it to be a national story that reached her family and friends thanks to the extensive media coverage.)

I have no wish to delve into the details. But now I don't know whether to be disgusted at him, quietly happy for her or annoyed that I'm not actually taking the correct (definitive) position on this. Which is probably something different. (Yeah, the "sugartits" bit doesn't sound good, but I've heard 'worse' between people in an actual loving relationship, when they didn't think anybody was listening, especially not someone liable to talk to the media.)

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Coyne » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:25 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:(Yeah, the "sugartits" bit doesn't sound good, but I've heard 'worse' between people in an actual loving relationship, when they didn't think anybody was listening, especially not someone liable to talk to the media.)


Yeah, well, it has absolutely no place in any professional relationship.
In all fairness...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby dg61 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:04 am UTC

cphite wrote:
elasto wrote:
Zohar wrote:You guys keep assuming I'm having good ideas, when I already said I don't. In any case, I never said outlaw these pieces of writing. I said curate, and notify, and provide more information.


Well, they are already offering to do that, but it's very tricky.


On what basis are "they" qualified to do anything of the sort? And frankly, even if Facebook or whoever they entrust with the task are somehow qualified to determine what news is fake versus what is real; what makes you think they're not biased themselves? Facebook is above all else a business, do you really believe for a moment that they're not going to attempt to nudge popular opinion in ways that benefits their business?

In this day and age, not only do I see the BBC dismissed as biased, I even see Snopes discredited and condemned.


No news agency is immune from bias; not even the BBC. They all have biases based on their ownership, their major funding sources, their target audience, and so forth; it's inevitable.

Snopes is basically a handful of writers who like doing research. It's frankly a little weird how much faith people place in their conclusions. To be fair, it does seem like they're at least trying to be non biased; but that doesn't give them any sort of magic ability to detect truth above and beyond the rest of the web.

The problem is circular: People will only believe sites to be unbiased if they conform to their pre-existing views. If Facebook marks an article they like as 'fake news' they will assume Facebook has been commandeered by 'da man'...


Frankly, the moment that Facebook is deciding what is real or fake news in the first place - even if they get it right - firmly puts them in the category of 'da man'


Bias is a not very useful category outside of outright polemic or extreme slanting of the "birtherist" variety. It might be more useful to say that all news sources and writings have some kind of outlook; for example a conservative news publication will tend to report with somewhat of a conservative bent in terms of what it highlights in its stories and what stories it deems important(and its op-ed) board, likewise a broadly pro-establishment or anti-establishment source. Snopes is I think a special case because it originated as a fact-checking service rather than a news source per se; to be fair the one time I looked it up it did seem relatively fair to the claim I was critiquing(basically saying "it's a misunderstanding or misinterpertation of a correct statistic rather than an outright falsehood). What distinguishes say the BBC is that it's nonpartisan; i.e. it is beholden to not support this or that party line.

As for "Fake news"; it seems like half the problem is that 1) everything's fake news because nothing is and B) people tend to fetishize finding "the one reliable or unbiased source" and not picking apart the sources you have( like "This newspaper is almost certainly not going to report something that's false or outright mendacious, but expect it to put some kind of stories more prominently than others") or better yet looking at two or more
independent sources.


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