Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons in Twisting the Facts

How to twist the facts to suit your beliefs.

Here are some news headlines for Wednesday, October 13, 2010 – Too bad it isn't Friday the thirteenth.

How the news media interpreted the Rand Corporation's Report on: Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico. Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?

Please note what the Rand Corporation says about itself; what motivates their reports,
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.
Here are four examples of one version of this report:
  1. AP: Study: Legalizing pot won't hinder Mexican cartels - By MARTHA MENDOZA (AP)

  2. KPBS: Study Says Proposition 19 Unlikely To Affect Drug Groups’ Revenues

  3. Los Angles Times: Study: Legalizing marijuana in California would not make a big dent in Mexican cartels' profits

  4. Miami Herald: Study: Legal California pot wouldn't undercut Mexican cartels
Then there is this at FireDogLakeJust Say NOW that says the very OPPOSITE!
  1. Rand Study: Marijuana Legalization Would Markedly Cut Mexican Drug Cartel Profits - By: Jon Walker
For something local take a look a what Eric Kirk's posting, FBI to Arab-American Student – “Don’t worry, you’re boring brought up in the comment section starting with this brilliant statement of the 1960's grammar school propaganda machine from [Ernie Branscomb]:
The war for independence was a winnable war, a wise war, and a war, with almost universal support from the populace. A good example of a good decision. One man fighting the F.B.I. is stupid. Surely, you can see that?
We are close to being in another war to take back the country. What side are you on? Or are we all going to wait until all the jobs are gone.
Signed: Wise Pussy
Continuing to read the comments will reveal a similar bias towards to opposing views or conclusions from the same facts. Pay attention to the Branscomb – Jim Bouy interchange on American history:

If you're wondering why or how this happens, one of the more intriguing and revealing statements for this phenomenon was made by Branscomb in this [comment], But you will be hard pressed to convince me that the war of independence wasn’t a winnable war. Even given the odds.

This is a rather insightful statement because it reveals what primarily motivates, screens and deduces facts in this person's mind: his belief system. People motivated and governed, that are operated by their “beliefs” discount facts as irrelevant and, at most, simply bothersome. Unless, of course, if they support their beliefs.

Logic motivated, rational thinking people are always stymied by the “believers” intransigence. It's similar to a religious motivated society versus a secular motivated society. Or like Republicans versus Democrats.

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