Archive for category Media

Why internet polls are (possibly) important

It is oftentimes the case that a poll appears on the Internet.  Something like “Is the Earth flat?”, or “Should the government fund a state astrologer?” or whatever.

What happens next?  Someone skeptical notices, and puts a link to the poll on twitter or Facebook.  Other skeptics forward the link (it usually gets back to PZ at some stage) and we all go and vote to make sure the poll ends with the right answer*.  At the same time, other skeptics pipe up (not unreasonably) saying, well, it’s only an Internet poll.  The truth is not a democracy, it’s not really important, who cares if someone on the Internet is wrong, etc.

And the poll closes.  Sometimes with the right answer, sometimes not.

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Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism – Full talk plus Q&A

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to our lovely Skeptics in the Pub crowd, where I took about dissecting the media and generally picking out just how to spot PR bullshit in the press. For all of you who were sadly unable to make it, fret not! For we have the whole thing on video. Feel free to discuss in the comments below!

*Sorry for the random sound issues in the middle – apparently passing taxis were interfering with the radio mics. It was not – repeat NOT – any kind of nefarious hacking tactics from the tabloids…

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Bad News: When Is A Hoax Not A Hoax?

This might well be a little bit of old news by now (given that I covered this story on our second anniversary Skeptics With A K show) but I can still confidently say that anyone who s watching the live stream within an internet explorer 6 browser is an idiot.

Now you might think that’s because there was a recent hoax survey which claimed that a psychometric testing company had analysed the IQ of users of different browsers, and had determined that users of internet explorer 6 are most likely to be flat-out dumb, but that’s not actually why I’m calling you idiots. It just a shit browser, massively outdated and an all-round piece of trash, and if you’re using it, you’re objectively an idiot.

That aside, there is something interesting about this hoax survey story. For those that haven’t heard of it, last month the media was all over this story, and not just the usual suspects. The short version is that AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Company published a press release claiming that after surveying 101,326 people for their IQ and broswer of choice, and mapping this into a good solid graph, they were able to establish that internet explorer users had a ludicrously low IQ, around the 80 mark. Read the rest of this entry »

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Irresponsible headlines linked to alarmist media reports

This story first appeared in episode #049 of our podcast Skeptics with a K. Subscribe and download. You know it makes sense.

I was recently surprised to see the following headline on the BBC News website:

Common medicines linked to death

I’ll be honest, this struck me as scaremongering. And this wasn’t some obscure article tucked away in the health pages…  it was the lead story, on the homepage, for a whole morning. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: Clarkson’s Cock Rides Again!

A few weeks ago I gave a BadNews talk at Ignite Liverpool, a cool evening where people from all manner of backgrounds give 5-minute talks on something that interests them. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

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Bad News Prediction: Gossip, Girls!

Regular readers of this site – albeit ones with long memories (I’ve been bad for the whole blogging malarky for a while, I know) – will know that from time to time I like to take a punt on what I think will be in the newspapers soon, to see how good my predictive PR powers are. Here’s a quick, very short and possibly utterly wrong prediction:

Gossip, Girls! How British Women Are Queens Of The Chinwag

British women really are queens of gossip, chattering more than twice as often as men, according to the latest research.

More than half of British women admit to gossiping more than once a day, with many confessing to spending over 600 hours each year discussing the latest celebrity news, with men trailing behind with under 300 hours each year.

Top topics for girly gossip included football veteran and alleged philanderer Ryan Giggs, and new addition to the Royal family and national sweetheart Pippa Middleton.

The survey, carried out by <total guess here – The Carphone Warehouse>, questioned 3000 people as part of the launch of their new <phone/contract/promotion>.

Top 5 gossip topics

  1. Ryan Giggs
  2. Pippa Middleton
  3. Britain’s Got Talent
  4. Cheryl Cole
  5. The Royal Wedding

Now, as I say, all of this is pure prediction, and like all predictions it might fall flat on its face! The gender angle is a bit of a guess, as is the number of hours per year, but I’ve a good feeling about a few of the other details. I’ll let you know if it pans out!

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