Posts Tagged express

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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The Daily Express and The Wife-Taming Wonder-Spray!

As a result of a little digging around the papers last week, as-ever on the trawl for nonsense, I stumbled across the following in the Daily Express:

HERBAL REMEDY’S NAGGING RELIEF TO THE HENPECKED

BATTLING couples could have found the cure for their marital bust-ups – a herbal remedy which claims it can tame the nastiest of nags.

A miracle cure you say? To get rid of nagging? With a slight hint of a putting-your-woman-in-place angle? Thanks very much, Diana-mourning, Maddie-sleuthing Daily Express. The article was written by Nathan Rao, who I feel is worth calling out because frankly I suspect he contributed barely a word to it, as you may well come to suspect too I’m sure. The article continues:

The world’s first anti-nagging medicine hit the shelves yesterday.

Two sentences in, and we’re suddenly claiming not only a world’s first, but that this herbal product is classifiable as medicine, and all that that entails. In short, if the Express, Nathan Rao or whoever wrote this piece wants to call this herbal remedy a medicine, that’s fine – so long as it’s a licensed product, licensed by the MHRA. If it’s not, then labelling it a ‘medicine’ is… well, let’s call it naughty. And complaint-worthy. And potentially pretty serious. So, a nice start then! Let’s continue Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad PR: The Adulterated Truth

Getting a PR-fluff-piece into the news is easy, as I’ve shown before – take a survey, manufacture a surprising result (through data-mining, biased sampling or leading questions), and push it out with a shocking headline and a sexy angle. Easy. Here’s the first three paragraphs from an example in the Daily Express, print edition, the other week:

“One in five women would forgive their man for a one-night stand as long as it meant nothing to them.

The figures emerged in a report which also revealed that eight out of 10 Britons couldn’t care less if their partner became involved with someone else, as long as they didn’t have sex.

Despite nine out of 10 women claiming they would dump a man who had regular sex with someone else, millions would forgive indiscretions over the phone or by text, although half of girls still say they would show their partner the door if he kissed another woman.” – Source: Daily Express, 29/09/2010

Prime example, then – sexy angle, backed up with a nice, traditional ‘men cheat, ladies – deal with it’ undertone more in keeping with an episode of the Sopranos than with what most of us would experience in our lives, I’d imagine. On top of that, we have a flurry of statistics, including the up-scaled extrapolation of what ‘millions’ believe, based on the sample data. You’ve five seconds to guess what company appears in the next paragraph, having commissioned the survey. It’s a classic. Read the rest of this entry »

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