Saturday, September 07, 2019

A short lesson on how to lie to get what you want... without TECHNICALLY lying

"My god, this may be the worst disaster in history. You may lose your house and your children may die!"

... A short lesson on how to lie to get what you want... without TECHNICALLY lying...

This headline... while somewhat overblown... may look familiar if you've been reading news and social ,edit sites the last week or three... Or frankly, the last few years, particularly the last 3...

... If not the words, than the sentiment...

.. and that is the problem... it's about emotion and reaction, not information, and reason.

That notional headline, is not about informing you... it's not even specifically about getting your attention; which combined, are the primary purposes of headlines for actual news and information pieces. Or at least they're supposed to be.

Those words, that phrasing, is an editorial choice... the choice to use what is sometimes called "purple prose"... and is not designed to engage and inform you rationally and reasonably...

...  In fact, its a choice specifically designed to bypass reason and rationality, and to enflame and instigate REACTION, rather than reasonable consideration.

Specifically, they want you to react by sharing their links and spreading the irrational and unreasonable reaction to others.

The people who write these pieces, and the sites that publish them, have one job

That job is not to inform you... No matter how reputable a source they may be...

Even formerly responsible "hard news" organizations, and outlets for serious editorial commentary and opinion; are caught up in the hamster wheel of the online content generation and consumption cycle.

That job is to generate currency...

Both material currencies like ad revenues, and promotional considerations, and the even more valuable currencies of influence, social capital, and political capital.

These currencies are generated by audience impact.

Audience impact is measured by traffic (and if they have advanced data mining, by gathering valuable metadata).

Traffic is generated by getting people to share links.

To get people to share linksat sufficient scale scale to be effective at that one job, generally  requires one ( or more) of three things:

1. The least effective way is to create good feelings... being cute, or interesting or funny, or sweet... That generates the fewest shares and the fewest clicks and the least revenue.

2. More effective is to make people angry, or to inflame outrage. This is very effective for certain issues... politics and social issues, almost anything about children being abused, things about people being cheated... that sort of thing. These  stories get shared a fair bit, and generate a fair bit of revenue... but they tend to be self limiting, and there's a large percentage of people who just don't care about any particular subject... Even the most important possible subjects you can think of, many people will just tune it out.

3. Most effective of all? Anything that scares people... especially if it scares people about their homes, their savings, their own life or death.... or absolute worst of all... anything which may seriously harm their children.

You might notice.. Natural disasters offer these outlets the best of all possible scenarios... Even better than the 2nd and 3rd place topics: war, and politics (crime and "justice", , celebrities and pop culture, business money and economics, health wellness and medical issues, popular science {often having little to do with actual science} and "family and children", and "human interest" round out the top ten "mass appeal" topics... Almost all other issues are considered "niche", "genre" or otherwise of limited appeal).

They can write feel good stories about people helping people, and saving pets, and that sort of thing.

They can write stories to make you angry, about looting, and theft, and government failures, and government abuse... the worse the disaster the better...

...but... For either 1 or 2, they still need things to actually happen, so that they can write about them... or at least things need to feel tangible enough, or "real enough" that people will get mad about them.

The real goldmine though... better at creating emotional reaction than anything else... the absolutely INFINITE  possibilities for scaring people...

With fear, you get all the benefits of anger, combined with even greater likliehood of provoking unthinking reaction, and potentiallyfar broader impact. People are less likely  to ignore or tune out fear than anger, and more likely to react without thinking... or even reading more than the headline... and sharing the link....."just in case".

And the very best thing about fear based stories... even better than feelgood stories, or anger and outrage stories... is nothing needs to ACTUALLY happen.. or even be likely, or have any realistic chance of happening.

In fact, the thing doesn't even need to actually be plausible in the slightest, so long as they can confuse people enough that they may believe it... or the headline is scary enough that people share without reading... and that uncertainty is even better for creating more fear, and driving more traffic, from everyone who clicked and shared "Just in case".

So... step back, and look at the framing of the story... the phrasing and language and specific choices made by the author and editor. Look at the headline, and the included pictures.

... Are there a lot of verifiable facts, or is there a lot of passive interrogative or passive speculative  voice.. maybes, mights, and hypotheticals, presented as if they were facts or certainties?

Humans are inherently bad at evaluating risk... writers know this, and use it to lie, to create reactions, impressions, and emotions in the reader... while not TECHNICALLY lying. By properly  presenting a potentially catastrophic impact, with horrible unthinkable consequences, they know they can safely ignore the tiny likelihood of those unthinkable  consequences, because most most people, when forcefully and emotionally confronted with such unthinkable things... won't (...think that is... Most will either react with little or no rational thought, or if the feeling of threat or fear is great enough they will shut down both rationally AND emotionally do nothing at all).

When you examine the structure and language of a piece,  are  they using conditional or otherwise indefinite, but also extreme superlatives?  For example "this may be the worst thing ever" , or "If this happens, it will be the wost thing ever", or "if these conditions continue to worsen this may be the worst thing ever"... OR even sneakier and often more effective, establishing a set of speculative conditions earlier, then later treating them as if they are established fact; saying things like "the models show that this is the  biggest and worst disaster of all time".

Is there  an attempt to lay blame, or focus negative feelings for the "bad thing" on some vague and ill defined bogeyman, a  faceless but disfavored or unpopular entity or group, or a much hated specific organization or individual; with little or no attempt to prove or justify such blame, or a provide any kind of plausible rational causal link, or other factual or reasonable justification for such blame, or any other association of such emotions (or the reverse... to give credit to, or associate positive emotions with, someone or someething; without factual causal link, proof, or other rational justification) ?

Are the characterizations emotionally charged, deliberately attempting to induce emotions andreactions, and to create emotionally linked impressions and associations using linguistic psychology; like fear forcing, motive forcing, outrage forcing, suspicion forcing, negative association forcing, tonal forcing, or personal appeal forcing (appeal to ego, appeal to idealism, appeal to altruism, appeal to guilt, appeal to shame, appeal to conscience appeal to prurient interest, appeal to schadenfreude,  appeal to spectacle, appeal to ideology etc...) ?  Does it employ the classical fallacies: ad hominem, post hoc, cum hoc, false dichotomy or dilemma, straw man and the like?

How does the piece make you feel, rather than think intellectually and rationally? Go back and look at the text and other factors I mentioned above... Can you see these deliberate linguistic forcings, being employed to shape a narrative, specifically designed to create these emotions and reactions?

If the rhetorical content of a piece... written, spoken, or delivered through imagery... deliberately tries to make you feel or react a particular way, regardless of the facts... or even counter to them, or with facts being absent entirely; that piece is not news or information... It's not even editorial commentary or opinion...

... it's propaganda.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

"Cancer Free" Doesn't Actually Mean Cancer Free...

Something many people don't seem to understand about cancer in general, and my specific kind of cancer in particular...

When you have surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes... it doesn't CURE the cancer. You still have cancer, it's just in remission, because you don't have enough actively malignant cancer cells to detect a large mass.

Even when they say you are "cancer free", it doesn't actually mean you're cancer free, it just means there are no detectable large masses of cancerous tissue.

... And you PRAY most fervently, that there are no large undetected masses... because there easily can be... and that you have a long while before the cancer grows enough again to be a threat to your life.

You have to understand... once cancer is in your lymphatic system, small clumps of cancer cells circulate through your entire body. You just have to hope and pray they don't implant and grow... or at least they won't for as long a time as possible...

... Because, barring some kind of miracle, lymphocytic cancer ALWAYS comes back... it's just a question of how long until it does.

My cancer is currently in remission... at least I hope so, because I haven't had a post surgical scan, or my six month scan. So there very well could be more large malignant masses growing in me right now... I don't have the money to get the tests necessary to know whether I do or not.

...But the odds are about 75% that it will be back within two years. About 85% within 5. About 95% within 10, and about 99.6% within 15.

... And my own personal history proves that out...

I had my first cancer surgery in July 2012.

We detected the lymphocytic metastasis in November of 2015.. three years... and had surgery in March of 2016, when they got "all the cancer"... and at they time, they absolutely thought they had.

Six months later, in October of 2016, I had approximately twice as many cancerous nodes as they had taken out in March... and at the time, it looked liked they had got all the cancer... again...

21 months after that, I had approximately double THAT amount of cancerous lymph nods and infiltrated tissue removed.

It's been a little less than 8 months... There's a very good chance I have more cancer right now... but I won't know until I can raise enough money... or work enough... to get the tests I need.

So... yeah... That...

Title 2 Regulation Isn't Net Neutrality... but it IS Warrantless Wiretapping...

Since it's coming around again...


It isn't. It has literally NOTHING to do with net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the SELF GOVERNING principle, that all network traffic between service providers and their customers, is the same. Traffic is traffic regardless of the content... except that certain types of latency sensitive traffic can be prioritized, and certain types of low priority non-sensitive traffic can be deprioritized, for network and bandwidth management purposes, and hostile or harmful traffic can be throttled or blocked, to prevent service degradation and the like.

This has, until recently, always been self enforced. Recently, some very large service providers have attempted to double dip, by trying to charge some very large content providers like Netflix, who use up LOT of bandwidth, but are not those ISPs direct customers for their primary data centers etc... That's double dipping, because those ISPs already charge peering interconnect fees, to the ISPs that Netflix already pays for their internet upload capacity.

Again, up until recently, if an ISP tried to treat any other ISP or organizations traffic worse than everyone else, the other ISPs would do the same for that ISPs traffic... thus nobody broke the rules for very long. That is still MOSTLY true MOST of the time... But a couple of the huge mega ISPs are SO big, that you cant do that anymore or you would slow down very large fractions of ALL internet traffic.

Title 2 regulation does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent that from happening.

Title 2 regulation allows for two main things... The FCC can set the rates large ISPs charge each other for interconnect peering, and it REQUIRES ALL TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICE COMPANIES (including email and VPN providers according to the Obama admin proposed regs) TO COMPLY WITH WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING AND METADATA COLLECTION, which is the real reason the government wants it.

The FBI cooked up a plan to collude with other federal agencies, and an at the time cooperative and power grabbing democrat controlled FCC, to rebrand warrantless wiretapping, as net neutrality... which actually is, and always has been, something else entirely.

If you believe in phony net neutrality, its probably not your fault... you have been, and continue to be, deliberately defrauded about the issue.

The Same Lie Since 1932

The mean hourly wage in the United States, in 2019, is $24.34.

The daily food intake recommended for the mean weight male... 198lbs... is appx 2180 calories.

100 years ago, in 1919, the mean hourly wage, was appx. $0.56 per hour... appx 1/44th todays wage... which works out to about $0.0093 per minute... less than a penny.

2019s $24.34 average wage works out to about $0.41 a minute.

In 1919, that daily recommended calorie count in say... diner cheeseburgers... would have cost you about $0.45 (not including tax)... or about 49 minutes of work. Honestly... not that bad. Better than one might expect really.

Today, in 2019, the same calorie count in say... Mcdonalds triple cheeseburgers... is about $12 (not including tax), or about 29 minutes...

... Less than half an hour, and only about 60% of the labor it would have taken in 1919.

... But, perhaps cheeseburgers are an anomaly... after all, food prices have actually fallen in relation to income significantly more than say... housing, or energy costs... right?

Well... general consumer pricing adjustment for purchasing power parity...

$1 u.s. dollar of purchasing power in 1919, is equivalent to approximately $15.26 in purchasing power in 2019.

So... parity in wages with 1919 would be $8.55... but the ACTUAL mean wage in 2019 is $24.34... that's 2.85 times as much... Rather a LOT better.

... And yet, somehow,  the left are always claiming that the average american is worse off than they used to be... that only the rich are doing better... that  "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"... which is utter an complete crap.

... Ok, well... that's 100 years ago... what about say... 50 years ago in 1969?

That's a particularly good example, because it's when the left claims that the poor and middle class started losing ground the fastest. They love calculating the minimum wage from 1968 for example, because 1968 and 1969 are the highest the minimum wage has ever been in terms of purchasing power, and it is the last year of the great post WW2 wealth creation and expansion boom.... and just before the mass inflation of the 70s hit (it actually started in late '68, but didn't really ramp up dramatically until 1971... then went into over drive with the '73 oil crisis).

Ok... mean wage 50 years ago, in 1969... $3.04 usd

$1.00 usd in 1969 purchasing power, is appx. $7.07 in 2019 purchasing power. That would make parity wage $23.26... but the actual wage is $24.34... making 2019s wage about a 5% increase in actual purchasing power.

Not a lot... but remember, 1969 was just off the peak year in the biggest boom in history.

Oh and just for fun... let's compare minimum wage purchasing power, from the literal highest point of purchasing power the minimum wage has ever been... at $1.30 in 1969. 
Parity minimum wage in 2019 would be $9.12... a fairly significant increase over the current minimum wage of $7.25...  
...Except that 1968 and 1968 were massive historical anomalies... Congress had actually just passed a 30% increase in the minimum wage. Only two years before, the minimum wage has been $1.00... which, funny enough, when parity adjusted, is just a few cents less than the minimum wage in 2019. 
If we look at the minimum wage when it was first passed at $0.25 in 1938, the parity minimum wage in 2019 would be $4.49... Just 62% of the actual minimum wage. 
Oh and the mean hourly wage in 1938 was appx. $0.84 an hour... about 3.35 times the minimum. Lessee... $7.25 time 3.35 is $24.29... amazing... just 5 cents less than todays mean hourly wage... Funny how that works out.
... So much for the myth that the minimum wage is supposed to be a living wage. It wasn't under FDR, it never has been, and it was never intended to be...

Ok... well, how about 40 years ago, in 1979?

Mean U.S. wage 40 years ago, in 1979... $5.55 usd

$1.00 usd in 1979 purchasing power, is appx. $3.69 in 2019 purchasing power. That would make parity wage $20.48... but again, the actual wage is $24.34... making 2019s wage an almost 16%  increase in actual purchasing power.

... Ok... 30 years ago?

Mean U.S. wage 30 years ago, in 1989... $9.73 usd

$1.00 usd in 1989 purchasing power, is appx. $2.08 in 2019 purchasing power. That would make parity wage $20.23... but again, the actual wage is $24.34... making 2019s wage an almost 17%  increase in actual purchasing power.

... One more shot at being even slightly true... 20 years ago... 1999.

Mean U.S. wage 20 years ago, in 1999... $14.74 usd

$1.00 usd in 1989 purchasing power, is appx. $1.53 in 2019 purchasing power. That would make parity wage $22.55... but one last time, the actual wage is $24.34... making 2019s wage about an 8%  increase in actual purchasing power.

So... the left, as is almost always the case, has lied entirely and completely about the economic situation of the American poor and middle class.

Yes, for a few years, starting 50 years ago, purchasing power did fall... from the end of the biggest wealth creation boom in history, through the worst peacetime inflation in U.S. history for 16 years from 1968 to 1984... It fell almost 12% over those years in fact, and stayed mostly flat another 10 years or so, until between 1992 and 1994.

However, from 1994 or thereabouts to today, it has been steadily increasing again (even including the 2009-2012 recession. Wages and purchasing power didn't fall at all in that period... though employment did fall, average wages still increased).

ALL Americans.. poor, middle class, and rich... are better off than they were 100 years ago, better off than 50 years ago, and 40 years ago, and 30 year ago, and 20 years ago... and even 10 years ago... 

... Of course, democrats can't actually win, if they don't convince you that the poor and middle class are worse off, and the rich are gaining at everyone else expense...

It's been the same lie they've been telling since 1932... and probably will be telling for as long as the democratic party continues to exist.