Sunday with my thoughts – 11Dec2016 – Coral Works in Black-n-White

Last Sunday I wrote about news, fake news, and news bias.

Let me be clear; all news is biased one way or another. The act of deciding what to report is the first step down the bias path. Deciding how something will be reported is the second step. By ‘how’ I mean anything from the choice of words to what will or will not be included.

For instance, these two single shots were processed a number of ways but I decided to show only one version of each.

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You, the reader, have no way of knowing if these are the best B&W renditions of these two photos. For that matter, unless I LINK the original post, you might not even be aware there are color versions of the photos.

Yes, I’m continuing with photos of pieces of coral gathered at a beach I recently visited. But, in B&W.

Photos appearing on Sunday with my thoughts  are gathered and presented in THIS SmugMug Gallery. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can also click on the photos for a larger version.

Anyway, depending on the processing I choose, I can emphasize different details, create different “looks” noticeable when compared side-by-side.

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For the above pair, some will like one, some will like the other, some will find neither muster sufficient interest.

With news, you not only don’t see the original, but you are restricted to what someone wants to show you. There can be legitimate reasons for this.

Just like with news, it’s impractical for me to show every possible B&W version. Not only it would take more time than I have left to live, but you would quickly lose interest.

If you read my blog, based on what I show you, you might decide that you like a particular conversion over another. You might even let me know.

We then have a feedback loop for the bias.

Say I show these two photos . . .

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Say a few of you bother to comment:

“Wow, Disperser, you done outdid yourself this time. That second photo is nice, but that first one really hit me hard. Good job!”

“I like the second photo. More realistic.”

“I like the softness of the second, but the first one has more punch.”

Well, shoot! I’m now presented with three different feedbacks. Depending on my character, what I hold as valuable as far as the opinion of others, I might decide on one or the other version as what I offer more of.

If I want realism, there is only one choice. But, that first commenter is so enthusiastic! Where they high on something or did the photo itself elicit the effusive praise?

Say I borrow a soul and do some searching with it. I decide to run an experiment, at which time the borrowed soul leaves in disgust. “Science,” it says, “I’m outta here!”

I then post these; a slightly more “punched up” version of a photo and a version amped up a few notches on top of that.

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You can see where this is going; eventually, I’ll arrive at something that the majority of readers will like.

I will do so by process of elimination; people who like the particular version will provide positive reinforcement. People who don’t like the direction of my post-processing efforts will leave in search of photos of kittens. I will then only hear positive reinforcement. I will feel good about myself.

But, look at what happened . . . I’m now a long way from a “realistic” shot. Heck, I might not even remember what a realistic shot looks like, and neither do my readers.

And, we are both happy.

It can get even more refined . . . I can start playing around with how much detail I show, how much of the shadow versus the highlight, more or less texture . . .

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Let’s say one of the “reality” proponents comes back, sees the photos and says something like “This is OK, but you should not be presenting this as factual. This is a distortion of reality.”

I look at my work, start to get doubts, scale back my processing . . .

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“HEY!” my regular readers yell. “What in tarnation is you doing! This isn’t why we come to your blog! Give us what we want!”

The analogy is getting a bit long in the tooth, but you get the idea. Not only can media outlets control what their audience see, but the audience itself affects what the media outlet shows.

I opened with a simple statement . . . all news is biased. I stand by it, but I recognize the degree of bias can vary significantly. For instance, the FoxNews Slimetards have hit on a lucrative formula and have invested heavily into keeping their audiences happy. THIS link talks about bias sliding into outright falsehoods.

There’s something else I keep in mind: we have a long history of news — our so-called ‘free press’ — being used to spread propaganda. Before anyone calls me on it, please, do your own research. You can go back to the Civil War (little direct government propaganda except for abroad) or start with more recent wars. Heck, start with the current war. You forgot we’re at war, didn’t you?

By the way, I’ll post a bunch of single B&W photos below, but know there are two versions of each of these photos in the SmugMug album. If interested in both versions, go there to see them. Here, you only get one. Except for the pairs of photos that include a conversion into a negative image.

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Personally, I think the only agenda one can ascribe to a given ‘news’ network is its interest in making money. That’s also the charitable interpretation for the complete lack of scruples and absence of integrity on the part of the FNS (FoxNews Slimetards). They have a loyal audience and because of it they make a lot of money.

But, how much of the blame goes to the audience? Should any of the blame go to the audience?

My answers are “lots” and “yes, FSM, YES!”

Here’s something I live by: intentionally lie to me once — lie, not just slant — and you are done. When FNS first came on the scene, I used to watch them. In my defense, they were a welcomed change from the stale and limited reporting at the time and a decent addition to the CNN programming. Plus, you know, they eventually shifted way, way right, and no longer worry about lying; they offer up exactly what their core audience want.

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When it comes to news and to opinions wrapped in a like-news mantle, few of us can check everything, and none of us have expertise on everything. When we hear something, we know only the facts presented to us and the interpretation of those facts by those presenting them. Unless pretty far out there (like, for instance, PizzaGate), we accept things at face value.

That was me twenty years ago . . . but it didn’t take long for that to change. Soon, I caught FNS on lies of omissions and outright lies. Sadly, I then caught other “news” networks in similar lies, if on different subjects.

Readers of this blog might know I follow, read, and think a lot about two subjects in particular: guns and religion. It’s on those topics I catch networks in distortions and outright lies, but also on matters relating to science topics and a few things related to business . . . and I no longer trust any of them.

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My standards for what I will accept as truthful are not the same as those of the typical audiences of news networks.

As best as I can figure, loyal viewers of a given network WANT to be lied to and they want those lies to confirm and reinforce their worldview.

Understand, I am not immune to repeating what I eventually find out are incomplete truths or even falsehoods, but I hate falling for bad information because I then have to correct myself.

That’s why my trust meter these days starts by assuming that, at best, I’m being misled. For some sources, I start by assuming I’m being lied to. Yes, erroneous stuff can still occasionally gets through my filters because I too am subject to my own biases. Hence why I encourage people to tell me about it. Prove me wrong, school me on the truth.

HERE is a quick article on the distribution of trust when it comes to media outlets. That article is from 2014. If anything, I expect those ratings have further solidified in the respective trenches.

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Do you see the problem? Each side, with very few exceptions, only trusts one version of any given issue because they do not trust the other side. Each side has their preferred sources and limits themselves to those.

Of course, one has to wonder if those news consumers are actually concerned about bias or if they just want to hear things they “already know.”

Ergo, someone who watches the FNS bunch is not likely to give The New York Times the time of day . . . or night, or any time at all. And, of course, vice versa.

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THIS lengthy article by the Pew Research Center explores how consumers obtain news and what consumers think of the various news outlets. Most of you won’t read it, and I don’t blame you. It a difficult slog but, like the shorter article before that, it really misses the point; it misses what I think should be at the heart of it all.

Both those articles tell me who people think they can trust.

Is that really what I, as a news consumer want? Is it really important to me that conservatives trust FoxNews and liberals trust the New York Times? No.

What I’m really interested in, is this: where can I get the raw news?

Always, I first want to know the facts and just the facts. No lies, no omissions, no opinions, no distortions. Tell me what happened and where and why. Only then might I be interested in opinions, and only if presented as a balanced assessment of a given piece of news, offering something I might not have thought of on my own.

Where do I go for that?

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Getting an answer to which news organization is MOST TRUSTED does not answer the question “is that trust warranted?”

Let me repeat the sad truth: They all LIE.

We can argue the degree and frequency, and we can infer all sorts of things about the why and how often, but the fact remains that everyone lies.

Someone is sure to pipe up with “yeah, but my guys lie less!”

OK, but how will you know what is and isn’t a lie? How will you distinguish between truth and lie on any given subject even if heard from places you mostly trust?

I’m hard-nosed about that; lie once, and I’ll assume everything you say might be a lie. Sure, if you say “the Earth orbits the Sun” and “water is wet”, I’ll believe you. But those are not news items, are they? I’m more concern with stuff I don’t already know.

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So, where does one go to find news if no place is immune from bias?

Well, this guy has a list. Within the caveats he gives, it’s not a bad list.

This guy has a slightly different list (see the lower part of the article).

You can read how people answered the question on Quora.

My approach borrows from a lot of those.

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The first thing I try and do is have my guard up against Fallacies.

From Wikipedia:
“A fallacy is an incorrect argument in logic and rhetoric which undermines an argument’s logical validity or more generally an argument’s logical soundness. Fallacies are either formal fallacies or informal fallacies.

These are commonly used styles of argument in convincing people, where the focus is on communication and results rather than the correctness of the logic, and may be used whether the point being advanced is correct or not.”

There are a lot of fallacies. It’s worthwhile learning the obvious and most-used fallacies; the favorite fallacies of pundits and opinion-makers.

I’ll include references at the bottom of the post. Worth reading, worth informing yourself so you can recognize when you are being manipulated and/or misled.

Second, I  try to find the source for a given article or news item. If no source is provided and an Internet search cannot find where a given story or fact originated, I consider it suspicious and usually ignore it. “Sources who prefer to remain anonymous” are as useless as “someone said” when it comes to information.

When you find original sources, note how each retelling has a different slant to what was originally reported. It tells you something about who and what you listen to.

Ideally, I want to see multiple sources for the same story. These days, there is a rush to be the first out there with a piece of news, often at the expense of accuracy. In addition to multiple sources, I’ll reserve judgment until a day or two have passed, by which time the story’s details usually solidify and more information becomes available.

If it involves research or studies, I want to see the original criteria, the methodology, who paid for it, what the goal was, and whether there is a consensus by reputable scientists or organizations.  This requires a familiarity with the scientific method.

Surveys are pretty much useless unless you can see the questions that were asked. That’s because the framing of the questions can limit or even shape responses.

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This next one is important . . . does the story makes sense based on what I know of the world, what I know of people, what has happened in the past. In other words, is it reasonable? Is it rational?

Yes, I’m more likely to give credence to a story about some conservative mouthpiece being caught in flagrante delicto than I would to a report of Hillary running a child slave ring out of a pizza parlor. That’s not a partisan thing or a bias at play; that common sense mixed with past history.

Finally, when I hear anything a news item, my first thought is “who benefits?”

News organizations decide what to report (unless, you know, it’s something big, like some starlet out in public without underwear — everyone reports that). That decision is likely driven by an agenda. This chart can help tell you what that agenda might be:

ideology-news

The original article for that chart is HERE. The graph itself is also based on the Pew study.

When something is reported, is the news outlet just giving you news, or are they also trying to sway your opinion about something or other? Who is promoting the story and who is downplaying it? Who benefits from the type of story being reported, how it is reported, and what details are emphasized or minimized?

For instance, you are less likely to hear the FNS report anything that puts Christians or Christianity in a bad light. However, if a Muslim farts in a crowded elevator, you are going to hear the FNS discuss it from 3:00pm until 9:00pm . . . and then repeated on the morning show.

Conversely, MSNBC, for example, will run every story that casts guns and guns owners in a negative light. Some idiot in Louisiana accidently shoots his foot, and it’s paraded as a reason why I will be safer is I toss all my guns into a river.

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I’ll be the first to admit all this checking and thinking takes work. It’s easier just accepting what someone — a news organization, some blog post, a Facebook entry, your crazy Aunt Mildred — tells you than it is to verify it.

That’s what frustrates me . . . people will spend more time researching a phone they want to buy, a restaurant they might want to visit, a movie they want to see than they do researching important stuff.

Some pissant on FoxNews tells them global warming is a hoax, and they buy it, hook line, and sinker. I can understand the FNS buying into it . . . they are getting paid to do so. Regular folks? Not so much.

And yet, regular folks are the ones who should be the most vigilant about what they are being told. Believing the lies will hurt them a lot more than it will hurt the people who lie. We have career politicians who lie at every election. We have pundits who regularly lie.

The consequences of those lie will not hurt them. They. Are. Wealthy. Slimetard Hannity can sit there and lie his sizable ass off whenever he talks about climate change. He makes thirty million dollars a year. I can guarantee that neither he or his children will suffer the consequences of any of his lies.

Some might read all this and think to themselves: “Self, this guy is seriously biased against fanatic, ignorant, right-wing crazies! Why is he not also picking on the fanatic, ignorant, left-wing crazies?”

Well, I tell you why; because — in my opinion — right now right-wing nuts pose a greater threat to the human condition than the leftards. At some future time, I’ll pick on the ‘tards who think Islamophobia is a word, who see racism in shades of toast, who have just as crazy conspiracy theories as do the wing-nuts on the right, and who also like to dress up crap and serve it as a fine meal.

But not today.

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That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

LOGICAL FALLACIES REFERENCES:
https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ (hover or click on the symbols)
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logical-fallacies (a bit more in-depth)
https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/fallacies_list.html (bigger words, more complex)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies (brief description and links to many, many types of fallacies)

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Musings Stuff, Personal, Photography, Photography Stuff, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Sunday with my thoughts – 11Dec2016 – Coral Works in Black-n-White

  1. renxkyoko says:

    What gives me a headache is ” false equivalency “, a fallacy that CNN is most guilty of. An example of this is the issue of ” age ” of planet earth. How old is it? We understand that the media has to present two sides of any argument….. in this case, the scientific side in which scientists say that the earth is xx million years old. Then there’s the religious side in which they believe the earth is only 7,000 years old, based on what the Bible’s Genesis say. What irks me to no end is when the media treats the two sides of the arguments as having ” valid ” points, and for the sake of being ” fair and balance ” , they are pitted against each other , in one panel , on one show. And again, for the sake of neutrality, the host questions the validity of the arguments of both sides, as to appear neutral, when , in fact, his job as a journalist is to find the truth, and truth only. Even outright lies are not being challenged to appear as objective and neutral as they can, or not to appear as taking sides. * sigh * I can write a long essay from this, but I think this is enough for now. I’m one 100% sure you know what I mean.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      For fun, watch any “news” show that includes an editorial comment and count the number of fallacies they serve up. But, unless audiences call them on it, no one is going to change what works. The problem then is reframed by the sad truth that audiences don’t want to change.

      And yes, the topic you mention is one example where people will grasp at any straw, no matter how short, to keep believing in what is dear to them. It’s not the main cause, but it’s a contributor to the mess we are in.

      Like

  2. Eddy Winko says:

    Of course you have to wonder if we actually need news? Whilst I read it I take little notice, it’s mostly depressing or sensationalised clap trap.
    Tell me if the electricity is going to be cut off for a day or if a road is closed or if there is going to be a shortage of hay over winter, then I’ll take notice, beyond that the news is just something that happens and by the time it reaches us it’s of little importance or effects our daily lives.
    Considering the number of people who now use social media as there source of news I think it’s probably safe to say that the majority of people don’t actually care, but they read it because its there, in between the laughing cat, your sisters birthday and an advert for an iron that you looked at on Amazon 3 months ago.
    Shame that corals not still in the sea.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Well, if the coral were still in the sea, I would never see it. Ergo, from my point of view, I’m glad it’s on the beach and I can photograph it. I’m selfish that way.

      As for the news, I get what you are saying and for certain things, I completely agree. I seldom “need” to know what happened four hundred or four thousand miles away.

      However, the world is increasingly interconnected. Things that happen elsewhere have a greater chance of impacting your life at some point in the future. That was always true, but that sphere of influence has expanded from countries to continents, and from continents to encompassing the world. Literally, actions taken by someone halfway around the world can impact your everyday life, and if not yours directly and now, those actions will impact the future of your children.

      The argument I’m making is that actual news, important news, is drowned in a sea of obfuscation.

      Sure, one can go hide someplace and live out the rest of their life. That’s my plan, but I am old and have no kids. I just need civilization to last another 25-30 years. Others are not so lucky, and consequences of what we ignore now will affect everyone down the road.

      I’m not saying we’re facing the end of civilization, but we might be facing some significant speed bumps . . . one hopes the undercarriage of our metaphorical vehicle is sturdy enough to survive them. That strength, in my opinion, is bolstered by reliable and timely information.

      . . . hindsight, on the other hand, seems to be pretty useless — humanity has a tendency to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over.

      And over.

      Like

      • Eddy Winko says:

        Oh I think they will manage to screw it up no matter if the news is reported correctly or not. I’ll be waiting with my pitchfork ready to rise up against the oppressor, but until then I’ll keep my head down.

        Like

      • disperser says:

        Man, it sure would be nice catching it before we have to resort to pitchforks . . . or, in my case, other implements of righteous indignation.

        Like

  3. Well done, Disperser! Thanks for the links.

    Like

  4. Excellent, Emilio! And great analogies between your thoughts and your photos!
    Was there ever a time when the news just reported the facts? And then let the listener draw their own conclusions, etc. I’m trying to remember.
    I quit watching TV news and news channels years ago. For some of the reasons you bring out in this blog post. And I read very little news online. So often I am newsless…but family and close friends always tell me the latest and,l lucky for me, when they do, they just give me the facts as they heard them…Like “Guess what, Carolyn…tsunami in Kansas…2 deaths…Dorothy Gale and Toto finally bought the farm. :-D
    Sorry…seriously, my family and friends are good about only sharing the important facts and no all the spin and hype and lies and twisted crap.
    The news and news stations upset me and make me angry. So, to avoid that, I avoid them.
    HUGS!!! :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      You come close in the local news, especially written news.

      You also come close when it comes to statistics (yes, people can still draw different conclusions from the same numbers, but at least you get to see them).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. PS…forgot to say that I really enjoy the coral…the details are amazing! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mvschulze says:

    Excellent post. Well thought, well documented with leads to additional information/research; and genius analogy with the image processing. M :-) :-)

    Like

  7. Something occurred to me on going through this massive screed, that you must be a touch typist. If you’re anything like me it would take at least 10 hours to type the amount that you have above.
    And by the way I much prefer coral in colour. I like B& W but not for coral.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Nope . . . mainly a two finger typist and I need to be looking at the keyboard when I type.

      Over the years, a few other fingers occasionally join in for particular combinations, but mostly two-fingers-hunt-and-peck. That said, I’m preffy faust aund arcurate.

      Seriously, I am happy with my typing speed but cannot measure it because tests online right now require one to be a touch typist, meaning they want you to copy words they throw up on the screen. That, to me, is transcribing. Not the same as the typing I do.

      There used to be a few sites that just had one type anything at all, but I don’t see them right now. If I remember correctly I’m somewhere in the 70wpm. To be clear, that’s my speed when writing fiction or opinions pieces.

      I’m a lot slower transcribing something (read, remember, type by looking at the keyboard, check for accuracy).

      . . . I’m very fast when I’m pissed off . . . that’s also true in spoken words as I tend to not stutter as much.

      Like

  8. omg it gets complicated doesn’t it!! :D However, I like all versions of this and we are all biased according to our own experiences etc etc. I try not to watch the news too much! And coral is fascinating!! diplomatically speaking!

    Like

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