Tag Archives: Manipulating the Public

A Case Study in The Abuse of Statistics

I was asked about the recent “record number or CEOs quitting” conspiracy theory, so I’m doing a post on it. Primarily because a little research shows how this is cherry picking data and a complete abuse of statistical data.

I hope all of you will pay close attention to this post. The analysis I give here can be used to punch through the complete BS that’s thrown around so much of the internet nowadays. As tough as I was on the media yesterday, they look like paragons of virtue and honesty compared to social media, Reddit and the fringe “media”.

OK so the latest conspiracy theory is that CEOs have stepped down in record numbers the last year, and the pace has been increasing since the start of the year. This is ABSOLUTE PROOF to the delusional that the CEOs were all part of a vast conspiracy of the evil rich to kill off the great unwashed.

THE BASIC FIGURES:

The only figures I saw thrown around a few articles were the base numbers for last year and this year. We hit 1480 resignations last year, and had 219 just in January this year. Apparently no stats yet beyond January. Both are RECORD HIGHS!!!

THE ACTUAL BAR GRAPH SHOWING THE TREND:

Here’s the information that’s NOT being said. The case quickly falls apart if it was shared as part of the story:

As you can see from the tweet, the info wasn’t tracked at all till 2002. While the last couple of years DO show a spike, they’re not THAT far out of line with previous years. 2005 through 2007 in particular came fairly close.

NUMBERS IN A VACUUM:

The biggest abuse of statistics is that people will quote a statistic completely on it’s own; ‘in a vacuum”. That’s ALMOST never accurate, and is usually accompanied by the infamous “everybody knows” as a substitute for facts.

“Everybody knows” is actually just an effort to get people to avoid critical thinking, and an almost guaranteed sign that what you’re hearing or reading is complete bullshit.

For statistics to have any meaning, they have to be looked at in terms of what may be impacting the numbers. Let’s look at the possible influences that were NOT discussed relating to this issue in any article I saw:

1 Has the number of corporations grown in equal proportion? If the percentage has stayed the same even though the number has gone up, the only thing that’s changed is the number of players in the game (so to speak). IF there’s an even higher proportion of corporations, then the percentage of CEOs “quitting” would have actually gone down.

2 Have these CEOs truly “retired” or have they just jumped ship or shifted to an advisory role? Job hopping has become both trendy and big business (pardon the pun) for corporate executives, just like it has for professional athletes. Cash in a severance package, jump to another company for a better package and even higher pay. Rinse, wash repeat in a few years. It’s all about the game here for some executives.

Until you have meaningful statistics about who has both truly retired AND also run for the hills, there’s absolutely NO rational way to establish a link between CEOs resigning and some sort of global conspiracy regarding the pandemic.

3 What are the ages of the CEOs retiring? There’s likely a huge difference in motivation for a 70 year old CEO retiring and a 30 year old one doing so.

4 How many of those retirements were due to the company being eaten up by a larger one? It’s a legitimate factor in the numbers, especially with companies like Disney, Google and Amazon gobbling up more and more companies out there.

5 How many CEOs retired due to real health issues?

6 How many CEOs retired due to personal or corporate scandals?

7 How many had specific clauses in their contracts that made it a benefit for them to retire recently. 2020 is a nice round number to use as a deadline for receiving stock bonuses, etc…

8 How many simply had their contract expire this year?

Are you readers getting the idea here? 🙂 It’s only when you can show both a pattern of increase AND a proven pattern of causes after accounting for all potential influences that you’re close to the truth.

Let’s shoot down one specific example used as proof in the stories; Bill Gates. He’s got more money than God so he HAS to be part of some now proven conspiracy!!

Reality: The man is 64 years old. He’s been running Microsoft for almost 40 years. He stepped down as Chairman years ago already, signaling he was transitioning towards retirement. He’s also heavily involved with the charity he started and been saying for years he wants more free time with his family.

I’d say there’s also an unspoken likelihood that given his age, etc… he’s possibly feeling a little overwhelmed by all the latest advances in technology and realizes the company might be better off in younger, more innovative hands as well.

Vast evil conspiracy or just an aging man wanting to finally take it easier?

CONSPIRACY THEORIES IN GENERAL:

So, as you see, what we have here is a conspiracy that looks good at first glance, but quickly falls apart under any real analysis. The same is true of most conspiracies really. My opinion is that even in most legitimate cases, the “conspiracy” isn’t some cabal that sets in motion dastardly deeds. They simply make sure to exploit and capitalize on the situations once they occur. Remember my Rahm Emanuel quote a few days ago?

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

Once again, “could not do before” really means couldn’t get away with before. He’s recently reprised that saying also as he makes the rounds on TV trying to exploit the coronavirus situation to make himself relevant again.

I could further point out that a good way to potentially hide a legitimate conspiracy is to bury information about it under layers of complete crap that’s supposedly connected to the conspiracy. …At least until the whole diversion tactic reaches a critical mass. I think we’re at that point too. People see conspiracy theories in their breakfast anymore.

CONCLUSION:

So there you have it. As my college statistics teacher pointed out; “Numbers don’t lie; people do”. Sometimes it’s out of ignorance and lack of analytical skills. Sometimes their personal biases and need to blame others blinds them. Sometimes people just try to blatantly manipulate others with partial truths.

Knowledge and critical thinking skills are the only defense against it all. We live in a world of unprecedented access to information. Unfortunately the vast majority of it is tainted or outright false. Without a basic understanding of the kind of analysis I put forth here, you’re doomed to be led around by the nose by people manipulating you for their own gain.

Beware Media Hysteria & Manipulation

It’s Tuesday! Time to take out the trash again. LOL

The coronavirus mess has done a lot to highlight media sensationalism and manipulation IF you’re paying attention and looking for facts. I’ve gone over the statistics in recent blog posts. This virus should be taken seriously. Sheltering in place and social distancing is a good idea. Is it the end of the world though? No.

If you paid attention to most media outlets, either we’re all going to die and it’s going to be worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918, OR we should all go out and lick shopping carts because it’s a hoax.

Ironic that the last proponent of “it’s all a fraud” that I heard was Rand Paul. He was on the radio a little under a week ago howling that it was all just an attack on civil liberties. No word on if he’s changed his tune since coming down with the virus. O_o

On the hysteria side, the best example I’ve seen was media sources quoting Emily Landon, MD, Executive Director Infection Prevention and Control, University of Chicago Medical Center in saying this was the Spanish Flu of 1918 all over again.

She (and the media quoting her) completely neglect to mention that the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 17 and 50 million people. Some say as many as 100 million. She also fails to mention that the Spanish Flu was much more dangerous to younger people with stronger immune systems than COVID-19 is. There were also other secondary factors like areas still physically recovering from World War 1 getting hit extra hard.

As of today, we have 18,605 total deaths worldwide, 2091 just today. That’s enough to merit taking this seriously. It’s a FAR cry from 50 million people in a year though.

Here’s the thing with the shelter in place and other measures we’re all being advised to follow: If they work properly, it’s going to look like they were never needed, or at least were a big overreaction.

Stay calm, realize this will pass, and take anything the media EVER tells you with a grain of salt. Be skeptical. The media thrives on creating fear and anger.

So, let’s look at some of their more common tricks:

“Expert” Opinions:

The two examples above illustrate that the media will ALWAYS be able to find an “expert” to back up whatever opinion they have. Rand Paul and Emily Langston are both doctors, but have COMPLETELY opposite views on this mess. Why? Personal motivations.

Rand Paul was raised by his father to be a huge civil liberties guy. Normally we could use more of them too. Sometimes, common sense has to balance civil liberties with social good.

Emily Langston runs the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Chicago. A) the more noise she makes about this, the more money her center will get from the government and private donors. B) Given her role, she probably sees every new outbreak in terms of an absolute worst case scenario.

“Experts” almost always run off of motivated self interest before anything else. Another example from this pandemic is that it’s being reported that the CDC was actually downplaying how dangerous this outbreak was at the beginning. They supposedly got blindsided by it and didn’t want to look ignorant. I’ve only heard a few unconfirmed reports here, but if true it explains where the White House and others were getting bad info from.

Just hit a search engine if you want to see how many times the CDC has dropped the ball before. Anybody recall they were all for e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to smoking when that first started?

Partial Truths:

Keep in mind that no matter how bad any media outlet spins a story, there’s always going to be just enough truth to avoid having to admit they bald faced lied. What do I mean?

OK, let’s say there’s a news story about some EVIL person swooping into the local store and buying up their entire inventory of toilet paper. The story takes on a whole different light if that “entire inventory” was the last package they had, doesn’t it? Technically they reported accurately BUT would they have given a true picture in that scenario? I’ve seen the media go this far in other cases to create ratings. I always ask what I’m NOT being told anymore.

Half Quotes:

Another favorite tactic of the media. Politicians on both sides either benefit or suffer from the tactic’s use. It all depends on who is doing the reporting on whom. Reagan used to get misquoted by the media all the time regarding his proposed shutting down the Department of Education. They’d report that he wanted children to suffer. They ignored that what he actually proposed was sending the funding directly to the states instead, believing people closer to the issues knew better how to spend the money than bureaucrats in Washington DC.

Leaving Out Key Facts:

There’s no test kits and medical supplies!!! How often have you heard THAT exaggeration in the news? Well, they’re ALL manufactured in CHINA, right down to every antibiotic that’s sold in the US. Anybody see a problem here? Anybody hear that fact reported, or is it all blaming the government and evil corporations?

Manipulative and Misleading Language:

I’ll finish this up with this one last major tactic. The media, politicians, corporations and PR firms, and some of the more manipulative individuals out there all pull this trick. Manipulative language is everywhere

One story on MSN’s home page talked about how the number of deaths from COVID-19 *SOARED* in the US. It sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Virus spreading everywhere, no one is safe! If you look at the numbers though, we’re at 600 deaths nationwide. In a population of 330 million, that’s a pretty damned small number.

Again, let’s follow the advice out there and keep that number small. Be kind to your fellow bloggers and human beings too. Even when you know the facts, this is still a kind of scary situation.

BOTTOM LINE:

Be skeptical of anything the media tells you. Displaying personal bias and social engineering are seen as good things in the media today. Strong negative emotions = strong ratings also. No single source is going to get it all correct. It’s not enough to go to a source with a similar outlook also. If you like CNN, you’re only going to get the same info at MSNBC. You have to go to TownHall.com or Fox. The same is true of you flip the coin. Fox and talk radio slant the truth also. I catch them regularly. You have to look at and fact check both sides to find the more complete truth in the middle.

And for the love of humanity, DO NOT get your news from late night comedians or social media! Talk about fountains of misinformation and hysteria…

What Happened to Leading By Example???

So, the Impeachment is now over. Thank God.

For or against it, anyone paying attention knew the result was predetermined. Both parties were going to vote in lock-step regardless of how good or bad the evidence had been. This ultimately was nothing but a circus to stir up the base of both parties and increase donations. A distraction as they spend the country into bankruptcy.

As bad as the impeachment was however, the behavior displayed by both sides since has been nothing but infantile. Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union speech, then doubling down on it afterwards by saying she was making a righteous stand for truth. Trump being Trump and making a “victory lap” speech where he belittles the entire process and most of Washington DC.

We’ve got the democrats blaming Trump and the Republicans for their Iowa caucus issues. That is something I predicted days ago also (next to last paragraph). Today Trump is accusing Pelosi of breaking the law by tearing up the SOTU speech. Was it bad form? Absolutely. Illegal? That’s a REAL stretch.

When is the general public, especially the silent majority, going to rise up and demand that our leaders start acting like adults instead of spoiled, self-entitled two year olds??

I come from a military family. I was taught EARLY on that a true leader leads by example and commands by winning respect. It’s REALLY hard to criticize spoil sport gamers who belittle other players and millennial “snow flakes” when our country’s leaders are all acting like even bigger asses.

Trump, I suppose it can be argued, has a SMALL excuse given that he has a history in the WWE:

Yes, that IS real… At Wrestlemania in 2007.

He’s the “leader of the free world” now however. It’s time to grow up and put away the kayfabe for the gibbering idiots. Same goes for our congressional “leaders” and the talking empty heads on TV.

A Quick Impeachment Addenda…

I was TRYING (and failing, lol) to keep the post on impeachment from getting too long. I forgot to add my final point as a result:

If you wanted to keep milking the cash cow of contributions, and keep playing the divide and conquer game with the public, could you possibly ever come up with a better way than the current infantile behavior both sides are displaying?

“I’m not turning over the articles of impeachment until I’m happy with the planned trial.”

“You don’t control the Senate, quit over-stepping your bounds.”

It’s all just enough to keep the mindless followers out for blood. Both get to throw tantrums and claim the other is endangering democracy. They can potentially keep this up all the way past the 2020 election, God help us.

Ironically, they’re both right about being a threat to democracy.

As for the answer… Richard Pryor had it right:

A DIFFERENT View on the Impeachment Drama

I’ve been wanting to write this since before Christmas. Fair warning: If you’re a mindless idealogue of the far left or far right, you’re probably not going to like what I have to say. To be blunt, I’m going to call BS on everyone. IF you have the courage and attention span to read all the way through this however, you just might find yourself agreeing with me.

SO what am I basing all this on? What’s my basic premise? That both sides of the issue are giving the public just enough information, (almost always spun), to inflame their base. This will take a whiIe, but let’s look at individual pieces of this mess.

The Aid to Ukraine:

A few conservative sources claim that Congress put anti-corruption strings on the aid that Trump “slow walked”. I can’t find any primary sources to verify that, BUT if anybody’s tried to get a search result from Google (and most search engines use their software) that was NOT leaning strongly Left, you know how difficult this can be lately.

U.S. Government concerns about Ukainian government corruption go back to at least the Obama administration also. This is tied into the whole allegation that Joe Biden blackmailed the Ukrainian government also. Here’s a quote from Breitbart News:

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.

Fox and other conservative sites / companies have pointed out this also. Hunter Biden’s Good Morning America interview was a PR disaster if people had actually been listening. He admitted he had NO experience in oil and natural gas, no knowledge of Ukraine, nor international trade. He admitted at one point in the interview that it was his connections to his father that likely got him the job on Burisma Holdings’ board of directors.

One other thing needs to be looked at in regards to Hunter Biden getting that job. The man was, perhaps still is, a repeat drug addict who has been out of rehab for cocaine. Now is a person with a serious drug addiction and absoultely NO qualifications somebody that any company is going to hire for ANY position, much less one helping run the multi-million dollar corporation?

Those of you who lean Left, bear with me, as I’m going to get to where the whole Right’s arguments here fall apart in a minute.

Investigating Political Rivals:

First though, let’s look at the whole question of Joe Biden’s involvement in all of this. The mainstream media is quick to just repeat Biden’s lie of “No” without any details. then again, by classical debate rules and logic, you can’t prove a negative and the burden of proof is on the positive. Well, here is Joe Biden speaking at the Coucil on Foreign Relations bragging about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma and his son fired:

Joe Biden CFR Talk About Ukraine (Real Clear Politics Article)

There’s a video there and you can find an hour long video on YouTube that covers his entire speech. For those who want the quick version though here’s the specific quote of Biden talking to the Ukrainian President:

I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Now this is all wrapped up in terms of Ukrainian corruption if you look at the entire thing BUT, the head prosecutor he got fired WAS in fact investigating his son and Burisma.

What’s missing from BOTH sides however was “What level of corruption investigation was launched elsewhere in Ukraine?” If it was none, you can bet the Democrats would hold that up as further proof. If there was any substantial investigation elsewhere, the Republicans would be showing it to vindicate Trump. Or would they? More there in a minute. Suffice it to say they should be though.

None of this is REALLY about political corruption though. It was a show maneuver to make it look like Trump was being tough on democrat corruption. That’s why only a few “red meat” Republican sources are posting the info.

I could go on and on here disecting evidence. There’s lots of little things that people skip over, like how witnesses on both sides) are offering third hand acounts and opinions on what they thought what they heard meant. One former ambassador was being overly dramatic during the hearings over Trump criticizing her. Well gee, who’s the boss and who is the employee? Ambassadors do not set policy, they carry out whatever the President and Congress decides is policy.

The whole thing is a circus on both sides for anyone with any political knowledge. I’ve been leaning a bit too much to the Right, so let’s look at a farce of a complaint on the Right. Trump and his supporters have been bellowing that he hasn’t been given due process in the hearings in the House. That would be true IF that were the actual trial.

The House of Representatives portion of an Impeachment is akin to a Grand Jury hearing. It’s an investigation to see if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial. Nobody confronts witnesses at that point, etc… The Senate portion of Impeachment is the trial. There, the President and his lawyers should have a Constitutional right to cross examine witnesses, present evidence, etc… What we’ve heard is a false flag / straw man argument designed to whip the Republican base into a fury over denial of rights.

I won’t even get into the second impeachment count, as it’s completely baseless. Executive Privledge is a long established right that every president since Truman has used to thumb their nose at Congress. We can certainly debate if the law is wrong, but it’s an absolute defense aginst this defying congress nonsense.

It’s ALL A Big Fat Bunch of BS:

Everywhere you look, both sides are presenting arguments with holes big enough to fly the Death Star through. You can argue that it’s because the other side is dancing around having no case and playing loose with the truth. If you’re a Republican, you can claim you can’t get a fair shake from the mainstream media also. I believe it goes deeper than that though.

Trump is deliberately presenting the worst, well most inflamatory, defense possible. He can’t seem to say anything on his twitter account that isn’t toxic. The man is obnoxious, but he’s not stupid. People don’t get to where he is in business and life without learning to play the system.

If *I* were in his shoes and wanted to defend myself, I’d have the Biden video on the home page of WhiteHouse.Gov. Same with the Ukrainian court records showing that their government was actively helping Hillary in the 2016 campaign. It doesn’t matter though because it’s all a game to both sides. Trump knows that with a Republican Senate there’s no chance of a conviction. So does Nancy Pelosi. Instead they’re both turning it into a fundraising extraviganza.

It’s ultimately about pushing the “Us vs Them” mindset in an era where the mainstream public has gotten increasingly sick of it. Weaponizing fear and loathing to such a degree that those prone to acting without thinking can’t help but be drawn into a conflict “to protect our way of life!”

As a result, both sides have shrunk the independent middle ground, AND raised MASSIVE, record amounts of campaign funds for their national committees.

Not only that, they’re all playing a game of “watch this hand here not the other one” in regards to other legislation. Trump recently signed another non-budget spending bill. 2015 was the last time the US had a REAL federal budget, and it was 6 years without one before that. Nobody pays attention to stop gap spending bills though, esp if there’s other drama elsewhere.

Trump LOUDLY criticized Obama for spendng away the nations future. Folks like Sean Hannity repeated the statistic that Obama had outspent the last 6 presidents before him COMBINED. It’s true too. But, TRUMP is outspending Obama, and giving the Democratic Congress everything on it’s wishlist. The U.S. national debt is scheduled to hit 1 TRILLION dollars in 2020. Three years earlier than the last Congressional Budget Office prediction.

If they’re all cooperating on robbing the treasury and the taxpayer blind, how at odds can Democrats and Republicans really be???

More importantly, can anybody say they’re getting ANYTHING at all from all this extra spending??? Nope. It’s just like here in California. All the money is going to personal perks, graft and buying influence.

So yes, it’s ALL a game to consolidate power and screw the American public. I’d guess what happened with Brexit in the UK was a similar distraction game too.

One of my longer pieces. If you made it through, I congratulate you even if you disagree with me. If you just hit like without reading or skimmed looking for something to troll over, shame on you. The only way to change the world is to start paying attention to what’s going on.

I’m going to leave comments closed on this one due to the trolls I’ll doubtless attract. Feel free to hit “Like” if I at least gave you something to think about however. 🙂 Likewise I’m going to remove the approval requirement I’ve had on reblogging my posts. Sometimes I don’t get back to WordPress for several hours.