Posts Tagged churnalism

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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Bad News: Happily Promoting Bogus Research?

Today, I want to talk to you about Man Bags. Or, rather, I specifically don’t – what I WANT to do is tell you a tale of two bullshitters. You’ll see what I mean as I go. So, from the Telegraph on Feb 14th:

They are the ultimate symbol of a modern metrosexual, sported by David Beckham and Brad Pitt: the man bag. But the grown-up satchel is responsible for causing serious back injuries, according a group of medical experts.

Please note the medical experts bit there, that’s important.

Man bags have come of age in the last decade, replacing the old-fashioned briefcase, and sported by an increasing number of commuters. Unlike a stiff attache case which has a carry handle, a man bag has a strap and is usually made of soft leather or canvas, allowing men to sling it across their backs.

When they first appeared in offices across the country, the owners were often mocked for adopting the distinctly Continental fashion of men having handbags. They were the final nail in the coffin for the era of furled umbrellas, sturdy brief cases and even stiffer upper lips.

But an increasing number of high profile men from David Beckham to Jude Law sporting them meant the trend took off. John Lewis said sales of man bags have increased 21 per cent over the last year, with shoppers buying ever smaller ones thanks to the iPad, the tablet computer made by Apple, being able to squeeze into smaller spaces.

Quite the appeal to celebrity to sell this story so far, with Beckham, Jude Law and Brad Pitt getting a mention. Even the photo was of Beckham and Jude Law. The Mail, similarly, went for a huge Beckham picture, despite the fact that the article is supposedly about back pain caused by heavy man bags – not something we know of Beckham suffering from. Hey ho, this is the news.

Footballer David Beckham has one, as does movie star Robert Downey Jr and model David Gandy (no idea!)– but slinging a man bag over your shoulder could give you a serious back injury, experts warn.

There’s that expert again I wonder who they might be. A medical back specialist? Physiotherapist? Posture expert? Even a humble old GP?

New research from the British Chiropractic Association found that men are carrying too many ‘essentials’ with them on their travels.

That’s right, the BCA – latterly famous for unsuccessfully suing Simon Singh for alluding to the fact that Chiropractic is based on nonsense and is bogus. Red flag ahoy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad PR: How To Be A Modern Journalist

Have you ever wanted to be a journalist in today’s fast-moving, exciting, cutting-edge, new-media, buzzwordy-buzzword age? I bet you have! You can’t fool me – I know you used to watch the New Adventures Of Superman as a kid and quite fancied the Lois Lane lifestyle: hunting out bad guys, tracking down sources, breaking big stories (admittedly while usually ending up somehow embroiled in those stories to a depth that only a super-powered alien could extricate). It’s OK, you’re not alone, we all wanted to be Lois Lane, myself included. I had the shoes and everything.

Usually, to achieve this lofty ambition I’d suggest that your options were fairly limited – either plug away at blogs and other self-funded and often-largely-unread outlets, and hope to get picked out of the crowd Little-Orphan-Annie-style by some benevolent throwback of a newspaper magnate (good luck in finding one); or you work your way through the tried-and-tested system: take a journalism course costing thousands of pounds, hope it’s one that the newspaper you’re applying to actually respects/recognises, secure a bottom-rung position and begin covering ‘man bites dog’ stories for the ‘Weird News’ section of your local rag until the will to delve has been so beaten out of you that you’re as unwilling to achieve real depth as an asthmatic scuba diver, and then return to the office to file 300 words of copy only to spend the day watching it getting trimmed back and pruned until your day’s work is a 20-word stub just before the classifieds. I’m joking of course, this doesn’t really happen – you’d not have left the office to do any of that: that’s why phones were invented.

Still, that’s what I’d usually offer as advice (not that I’ve been a journalist myself, you understand, so my advice is purely pithy conjecture and semi-satirical commentary). However, today I’m feeling a little more generous, so I’m going to let you into a little secret: there are simpler solutions, easier paths to tread. In short, there are shortcuts. And I’m going to share those shortcuts with you right now: Read the rest of this entry »

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