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July 11, 2013
This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

20:22 // 1 year ago
June 3, 2013

Zimmerman defense team apologizes for mischaracterization of potential video evidence

  • Last week a lawyer representing George Zimmerman described video evidence from Trayvon Martin’s phone as footage of two of the slain teenager’s friends beating up a homeless man.
  • Monday the very same lawyer, defense attorney Mark O’Mara backtracked on his statements, saying the footage was actually just a recording of a fight between two homeless men that Martin happened to witness. You know, because grown homeless men and teen-aged assailants can be pretty hard to tell apart sometimes, right guys? source
16:27 // 1 year ago
December 14, 2012
This is why getting the suspect’s name right is important. (FWIW, Ryan Lanza is in custody — for questioning — while Adam Lanza is the alleged suspect according to the Associated Press, though the Connecticut state police won’t confirm. He was found dead. The two had their names inverted in earlier reports. It is not clear if Ryan Lanza had a role or not.)
UPDATE: The AP reports that Ryan Lanza appears not to have a tie to the shooting. Which makes this point even more relevant.

This is why getting the suspect’s name right is important. (FWIW, Ryan Lanza is in custody — for questioning — while Adam Lanza is the alleged suspect according to the Associated Press, though the Connecticut state police won’t confirm. He was found dead. The two had their names inverted in earlier reports. It is not clear if Ryan Lanza had a role or not.)

UPDATE: The AP reports that Ryan Lanza appears not to have a tie to the shooting. Which makes this point even more relevant.

16:57 // 1 year ago
March 12, 2011
15:05 // 3 years ago