Crime is worse than ever – except not really! #crime #media

Most of us believe crime is getting worse. How often do we see yet another news report about car prowling, a break in, or especially, a violent crime? Probably every single day. Many TV news casts lead with murders and mayhem, followed by fires and auto crashes.

What effect do you think this has on how you view the world?

Pew Research took a look at the data and found that “public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data”. In fact, they wrote:

  • “Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century.

  • Property crime has declined significantly over the long term”

Source: 5 facts about crime in the U.S. | Pew Research Center

Surprised?

Take a look at the Pew charts:

Media’s interest is in selling eye balls to advertisers. Headlines about a young single mom assaulted outside her home grab our attention.

The media frequently cherry picks stories (by frequently we mean perhaps most of the time) based on their emotional hooks and novelty. Their goal is to sell advertising. Their “propaganda” is to push stories that persuade you to watch or read their story in order to expose yourself to their advertising customers.

Novelty, emotion and fear are powerful hooks. Crime stories are scary!

A side effect is we get a very skewed perspective on the world around us – and incorrectly think that crime is worse than ever.

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Social media outrage can lead to jail #Facebook #Socialmedia

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a conviction to stand, where the individual was convicted of making violent threats on Facebook.

Source: Supreme Court upholds PA man’s conviction over Facebook post – Las Vegas Sun Newspaper

Our nation is consumed by a culture of perpetual outrage. Many go out of their way to be extremely rude. Many go out of their way to be offended. Comments are twisted by the alleged victim to insist the perpetrator meant something they did not say. Regardless of what is said, someone will find a way to be outraged!

Everyone is in a constant state of outrage over something.

Rather than seek a way to reduce tension, everyone seeks to exacerbate tension. Social media amplifies the faux outrage of the media talking heads who fill air time and column inches with their own outrage, and amplifies absurd statements by prominent politicians.

The result is protesters ransacking communities but who can’t coherently explain what they are protesting against or what they seek.

The point is not to seek positive change – the point is to be outraged.

We have achieved a culture of perpetual outrage.

See also:

Update:

Nice to see media has their priorities straight in regards to the Las Vegas shooting/terror attack. Screen capture taken from DuckDuckGo on 10/2/2017 after searching for “Las Vegas News”. 4 of the first six items were celebrity gossip and two were news about the massacre.

Second Update

Many protesters do not even know what it is they are outraged about. The whole point now is to be outraged!

Here in the Portland, Oregon area, protests are a way of life. The joke here is “What are they protesting?” with the standard answer “Whatever, no one really knows.”

I saw this item in the Oregonian – the University of Oregon president was set to announce a $50 million dollar gift to the university but protestors shut him down and he never took the podium. As is typical in Oregon, “The loud group of a few dozen students did not have a cohesive message

The entire point is to be outraged – you no longer need be outraged about anything specific! The point is to be outraged!

I also saw a new item about a report of a noose found in a college dormitory (not at U of O), leading an official response from the university president and a formal police investigation about racism on campus. Ultimately it was determined that the “noose” was a shoelace, in its original store packaging. A student had inadvertently dropped and lost his just purchased shoelace in the dorm. Some else hung the package on a door knob opening to a public stairwell, in hopes that the visibility would enable the lost item to be found. Another student interpreted the standard way this brand of shoelace is placed inside the packaging as a “noose” and called campus police. Today, everything and anything is seen as an excuse for outrage.

We are in peak outrage culture land now.

TV news focuses on political outrage and selling eyeballs to advertisers

TV audiences can’t get enough news coverage of Donald Trump. Reporting on pretty much anything else is ratings poison.

Source: Broadcast News Misses Ratings Bonanza With Too Little Trump – Bloomberg

This year I had a chance to travel to several U.S. states. Among all the people I met, politics was avoided. Most seem fed up with politics and the purveyors of politics and definitely fed up with the culture of perpetual outrage.

Media targets a narrow demographic of the perpetually outraged that eats this up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then shares their outrage on social media, with links to the “news”! And then the outraged come back for more!

Print publishers and broadcasters are counting the clicks – and outrage sells eyeballs to advertisers. They know what they are doing.

As noted before, “emotional hooks” are a powerful way to promote anything. When we are “emotionally engaged” we tend to stop thinking and are more susceptible to advertising messages (another form of propaganda).

Consequently, it is in the interest of media to imply politics is the only thing that matters in life as it riles up the perpetually outraged into a frenzy of emotion and social media outrage and sharing. All the better to sell stuff!

(Disclaimer – We don’t have cable TV, satellite TV, over the air antenna or a subscription to Internet TV service – we don’t watch TV news!)

Social media outrage mob falsely accuses professor of racism, calls for his firing

Social media outrage led to amateurs falsely identifying a University professor as participating in the Charlottesville, VA mob, leading to people publicly calling him a racist and calling upon the university to fire the professor of engineering.

He was verified and confirmed at University event 1,100 miles away at the time of the riot. Imagine if this happened to any of us – and we did not happen to be at an event providing us with an alibi.

Social media is a platform for hate – and not just the racists and their evil, but also the hatred that emerges from the outrage culture leading to venomous attacks on innocent individuals and groups. Social media – Facebook, Twitter – are leading to the downfall of civilized society.

Photo said to be from August 12 – Charlottesville, VA, circulating on social media is not from August 12

The following photo is now circulating widely on social media as shown in this screen capture from Twitter: 

The image used here appears, currently, in Google Image search results spanning an astounding 15 pages. The above tweet has alone been shared 227,000 times on social media. This is not the only social media copy, either. It is likely this has now been shared tens of millions of times on social media.

The photo, while from Charlottesville, is of a different event in early July, 2017. And it is a very good photo, as is the professionalism of this police officer!

The situation may be similar. The sentiments expressed may be similar. And I suspect most of us agree with this caption and are impressed. But it is not a photo from Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017.

Update:

Another widely shared item concerns commentary about North Korea. This one uses the “Appeal to Authority” argument by citing an alleged comment from a Marine regarding threats from North Korea. As you can see, the names were blacked out in the original. We have no idea who wrote this or whether the claims or true or not. Whether we agree his or her sentiments is not the point here – the point is how we quickly share what we likely agree with, regardless of whether it is accurate, well sourced or whether any part of it can be confirmed. This may very well be from a US Marine too. But we just don’t know! Yet we share it online like crazy.

What This Illustrates

After many widely reported, highly emotional news events, many people turn to social media to spin the story for their own propaganda messaging. For example, I saw on social media a claim that the driver of the car in Charlottesville panicked after his car was attacked and was merely responding to an alleged attack and drove erratically to escape. No supporting evidence was provided for this assertion. Lacking actual information, this is propaganda messaging to spin the story in someone’s desired direction.

Be extremely cautious about what you see on social media after such events occur. As this blog previously noted, racist supremacist groups made extensive use of social media after protests at the University of Missouri.  Be extremely skeptical of what you see on social media. Most of it is propaganda messaging.

Update: I changed the caption on this post. It originally was titled “Fake photo…” but that gives the wrong connotation. This is a genuine photo but from a different event that occurred in Charlottesville in early July, and not on August 12th.

 

This is not even physically possible: Yahoo News fictional headline

Yahoo News goes full on stupid with this fiction news headline, which links, in turn to a news report having nothing to do with the headline. Remember, they have layers and layers of fact checkers. The fictional news just never ends, does it?

This headline has been live for at least 4+ hours without correction. Unfortunately, on today’s online and social media world, the headline is the message that sticks. Most people only read headlines, unfortunately.

This works as propaganda by using the primary method of “fear” and the secondary method of “appeal to authority” because “Study:” says something. This sort of nonsensical headline is often shared on social media – and may gradually become a “fact” as it spreads widely and for a long enough duration.

14 year old electrocuted by cell phone? Amazon’s Alexa calls 9-1-1?

Something is missing from this story (and other versions of it that are all over the media) – a 14 year old taking a bath, reached for her cell phone that was connected to a charger, and this caused her death by electrocution.

A cell phone charger outputs 5 volts, typically at less than 1.0 amps (newer chargers may go up to 2.0 amps). This low voltage and power level is not going to kill anyone, in a bath tub or not.

If this is a true story (and we have no way of knowing that) it is likely she attempted to plug the charger in to a wall outlet and made contact with 110 volt AC power, which is often lethal. (Update: Newer reports note this involved a charger plugged into an AC electrical extension cord.) The cell phone part of the story creates the novelty that translates into clicks, eyeballs for advertisers, and social media sharing.

Texas teen electrocuted after cell phone incident in bathtub

A search on Facebook shows untrue claims such as “Remember your phone is an electrical device that will electrocute you when plugged in and near water.”

At this point, a lot of people are going to believe that you can be electrocuted by your cell phone, which is nonsense.

Similarly, a widely spread news report claimed Amazon’s Alexa called 911 during a domestic violence situation. Amazon says this is impossible.

Taken together, consider how these two relatively unimportant stories are translated into popular lore. Many people will vaguely remember these stories, which then become “facts”, even though neither is true. Most of what we think we know comes from the media and social media (and perhaps personal conversations). Unfortunately, most of the items promoted by media and social media are designed to hook our emotions and shut down our brains. News reporters intentionally use methods defined for propaganda to generate clicks to their stories – and you won’t believe what happened next!

Using Questionable Statistics to Drive Up Wedding Costs?

What is the claimed average cost of a wedding in the U.S.?

$35,329 in 2016, says “The Knot” (not including costs of a honeymoon trip). More on their press release.

This value is *widely* distributed in the media, on social media, and in online forums.

Other estimates come from Conde Nast Bridal Infobank and The Fairchild Bridal Group.

How can an average wedding cost $35,329 when 62% of American have less than $1,000 in their savings account and only 10-20% have more than $1,000 in savings? (Perhaps this is because they spent it all on weddings and are now complaining they have no money?)

In my state, about 1 in 4 children live in poverty. More than 1 in 4 citizens qualify for Medicaid, which has extremely low income levels for qualifying.

The only way these numbers can all be true is a small number of people spend a huge amount on weddings or a large number live in poverty because they spend a lot on elective luxuries like high end weddings. Or the wedding estimates are bogus.

Propaganda Benefit

This survey is likely designed to produce a high dollar figure for the purpose of “anchoring” brides and grooms into an expectation of how much they should spend: The wedding industry wants you to believe you must spend a small fortune on your “special day”.

By anchoring this value, this “grounds” brides (especially) into how much is appropriate. But this is propaganda designed to set your expectations as to how much you should spend! Once this value is in mind, one’s costs will soon grow to fit with in this “budget”!

Undoubtedly there will soon be a Federal program to provide loans and direct subsidies to needy couples!

Social media and the Paris Climate Agreement

In the past couple of hours, my social media feeds have *exploded* with loudly expressed perspectives on the Paris Climate Agreement.

How many of those expressing a perspective have read the Agreement?

I am guessing that is a number approaching zero.

The agreement is short, as far as government documents go, and you can read it for yourself here.

What does the Paris Climate Agreement actually do?

Read the text for yourself. It is a voluntary set of guidelines, with no enforcement provisions, for self reporting the steps each country will take and what they think they will accomplish. Out of 196 countries, none would ever cheat or bias the information they provide, of course.

If all of the voluntary measures were undertaken, various modeling groups estimate it may reduce global average temperature by between 0 and 0.36 deg C by 2100, if the climate change hypothesis is correct and all other factors remain the same. The Agreement says the goal is to limit temperature rise to 2 deg C over what it was about 150 years ago (or perhaps 1.5 deg C) at a cost of about $10 Trillion in present value terms just for the financial transfer from developed nations to developing nations and not including costs of developing alternatives for developed nations.

Countries choose their own “baseline” for emissions (China chose its model projected emissions in 2030 as its baseline whereas the U.S. chose 2005) and then voluntary measure their progress towards their self selected targets.

Dr. James Hansen, “father of climate change” said

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises.

Update: From the science journal Nature (May 22, 2017):

Better out than in

 

Continued US membership in the Paris Agreement on climate would be symbolic and have no effect on US emissions. Instead, it would reveal the weaknesses of the agreement, prevent new opportunities from emerging, and gift greater leverage to a recalcitrant administration.

A lot of emotion will be vented on social media over an agreement that most have not read, do not understand, and which the “father of climate change” says is a worthless agreement and the science journal Nature says is “symbolic and have no effect on US emissions”.

From the above short summary we can see that there are both pros and cons of the Agreement.

Why such a strong emotional response on social media?

The answer is propaganda. Rather than examining the underlying documents, almost everyone is responding in terms of what they think they know, which they learned from propaganda messaging. Remember, propaganda is messaging targeted at a group for the purpose of getting others to adopt someone’s agenda. A wide variety of methods are used to persuade a group to adopt someone’s agenda (appeal to authority, get on the bandwagon, name calling, are a small sampling of the methods used here).

Many people have been “trained” to what they should “believe” or accept as truth. They now feel it is their responsibility to evangelize their “beliefs” to others, via social media.

But most are virtue signalling that they are “on the bandwagon” and do not realize the Paris Agreement appears to accomplish little positive. The point of the Agreement seems to be to enable a group to say we agree but to not actually agree to anything.

Two heroes murdered in Portland defending teens against anti-Muslim hate speech

An individual harassed two teen women on Portland’s Trimet MAX rail system, verbally attacking Muslims and others. Three local heroes stepped up to stop the verbal assault and two were murdered by the attacker and one remains hospitalized. Additional heroes include those who provided immediate first aid and those who left the train to follow the attacker on the street.

Not surprisingly, social media, even some professional media, plus the comments to news stories, turned the story in to a political event, blaming “alt-right”, Trump and Trump supporters and Republicans. The Huffington Post writes a column blaming Trump and others.

The tiny problem with this thesis is that the alleged murderer was a Bernie Sanders supporter and voted for Bernie Sanders, or so he says on his FB page. The only way he could have voted for Sanders in Oregon is by being a registered Democrat. He also appeared to support Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. He attended an “alt-right” public event in Portland where he is said to have shouted down “left wing” protesters and was kicked out by the “right wing” event organizers. He was vociferously opposed to Hillary Clinton and said little about Trump other than publicly calling for the assassination of AG Jeff Sessions and Trump. He does not say who he voted for in November.  He advocated in favor of several left wing causes on his Facebook page.

One of the defenders of the Muslim teen, was a past Republican Party candidate for public office; he was murdered.

In spite of this, many in the social media crowd blamed Trump and conservatives for the behavior of the alleged murderer. The Portland Mayor is now calling for the cancellation of public event permits issued to a group holding a pro-Trump rally. (The ACLU says that would be unconstitutional and the Mayor eventually backed off. A separate, racist-themed  event a week later, was canceled by the organizer.)

As The Willamette Weekly notes, the only consistency in the alleged murderer’s rants is that he was extremely racist. Newsweek, a reliable source of fake news (see their coverage of Satoshi Sakamoto), uses the propaganda method of transference to link the alleged murderer to Trump. Some of the local Portland media immediately ran with the “alt-right” meme, launching the social media firestorm that was off the rails from the start. Yet the only conclusion that can be reached is the individual is severely messed up. (“Alt-right” is a term white supremacists and neo-Nazis adopted to describe themselves. They adopted the label to re-brand as something other than Nazis, with hopes the label would imply transference of a softer view of their hate ideology. The label does not refer to traditional conservative politics although in Portland, “alt-right” seems to describe any group that is not left wing or progressive.)

This story is a sad commentary on the ugliness that spawned such hate to occur, but also on the public’s desire to jump to a conclusion that matches their preconceived notions, without questioning. The social media commentary turned so ugly that The Oregonian disabled commenting on their news stories. Never let facts get in the way of an opportunity to promote one’s personal ideology on social media!

Social media, and in particular, Facebook’s implementation of social media (FB presents posts in your timeline that FB believes you want to see), serves to reinforce views, even if those views are contrary to facts and logic. Consequently, social media has become the number one platform for the dissemination of propaganda messaging. Confused messages, including those of the alleged murderer, are freely posted and shared on social media.

To see the evidence of the alleged murder’s political thoughts, click through …

(I live in the Portland area. I am neither Democrat nor Republican and I did not vote for Trump.)

Update: Late on May 30th, The Oregonian catches up with the background of the individual: “Who is Jeremy Christian? Facebook shows a man with nebulous political affiliations who hated circumcision and Hillary Clinton“. While the story confirms what I wrote above, The Oregonian botches the story with this quote: “The question of whether Christian was a Trump supporter or a Sanders supporter, doesn’t have an either/or answer, except: he definitely was not a Clinton supporter.” As you will see after the break, Christian promoted Sanders on his Facebook page and said he voted for Sanders. There is no ambiguity on that point. He does not say who he voted for in November, but said after the election that may be he should have voted for Trump.

Update: May 31, local Republican groups say they are receiving death threats in response to the events of the past few days.

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