Death Cup 3: 5 Things THEY Don’t Want…

Posted on December 7, 2013. Filed under: Health Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

…YOU to know about “shocking” results of “new health studies.” (One thing I don’t want you to know: this is the longest article I’ve posted to date.)

I really hate article titles like thatthe mysterious “they” holding back on something vital to our survival.  I have covered this before in journalistic veracityThe Big P is looking to sell advertising,* whether it is printed, broadcast, or internetted.**  To that end, salacious, frightening, or sympathy-inducing tabloid-type headlines (yellow journalism), passing as legitimate news, are the means employed.  So, I guess I’m just parodying the Yellow J with Yellow S (sarcasm}.

Rejoining Dr. Snow-Job (Carl Lavie) and his heart-clutching “premature death” announcement, we gonna analyze his load of bull sh…   uh…   bull shize manure.  Remember, TYSK means Thing(s)YouShouldKnow.

TYSK 1.  WHAT ARE THE STAKES FOR THE PUBLICIZING RESEARCHER ?

  • Justification of that 16-year long 9-5 salary?
  • Gain publicity to enhance a GRANT MONEY APPLICATION…   you know, razzle-dazzle those grant signers into giving up the loot so that “research” on the current inanity can continue?  You don’t think he is paying for the “study” out of his own pocket, do you?  The man gotta show positive results, or the money train grinds to a halt.  Ditto his employment.
  • Gain publicity that will enhance his (and his organization’s) REPUTATION, which could get him a raise or a better paying post later?

Down here in the coffee-swilling-with-a-Red Bull-chaser segment of society, we just cut through the b.s. and call it what it is:  resume building, a big feature of which involves fluffing up your creds.

TYSK 2.  WHAT WERE THE ORIGINAL PARAMETERS OF THE EXERCISE…   study…   I meant of the STUDY?

  • I mean, c’mon, who embarks on a 16-year, grant-money-approved-tedium of enrolling 43,727 humans from a (presumed) wide spectrum of society to fill out forms weekly recounting from memory*** their coffee consumption (x 52 weeks = 2,273,804 collected forms/year x 16 years = 36,380,864 collected forms for the study)…
  • …WITHOUT HAVING SOME SORT OF PRE-CONCEIVED AGENDA IN MIND?
  • Can the original (and somewhat casual?) study protocols be adhered to over so many years through so many employees with any reliable degree of accuracy?
  • Oooo…   one more step:  let’s say 10 questions on the form; that would be 363,808,640 questions to be entered for the entire study.  Unless the forms were set up for automatic scanning input, that’s an awful lot of carpal tunnel syndrome…
  • …giving us yet another basis for a new grant-money-subsidized “health” study on the downside to such massive keyboard pecking:  carpal tunnel syndrome…   leg and back problems from sitting for so long…   eyestrain from flickering monitors…   marriage problems from the above-stated work-related stress…   which, in this case, could be attributed to coffee-induced stress by proxy.  (If litigators get wind of this, Dr. Snow-Job^ better have some big bank accounts.)
  • For this study, what participant status was designated to constitute DNFIR (Dead:  No Further Input Received)?  If a participant after, say, 8 years, decided to stop this nonsense and quit sending in the weekly questionnaire, was he listed as MIA, thus prompting a visit from a response team to locate and re-indoctrinate him?  Or, did an unimaginative clerk simply list him as KIA and stick him in the “dead” column as a victim of 4CAD/EDS, thus skewing the claimed results?  (If you have been paying attention, you know this is:  4Cups A Day/Early Death Syndrome.)
  • Was the program originally scheduled for 16 years, or did it just take 16 years to figure out how to string all those non-related data bits into a pearl-like necklace that would dazzle the media and, hopefully, the eventual check-signer of the new grant application (who, incidentally, will be harder to dazzle than the slutty Big P)?

TYSK 3.  IT IS THE NEGATIVE, UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS THAT HIT THE BIG HEADLINE

  • cause they are scary and attention-getting.  Lots of people drink coffee; lots of people are uneasy about death.
  • Just note how many “it is believed that (something negative)…,”   “maybe (something negative)…,”   “there are indications that (something negative)…,”   “It could be that (something negative)…,” etc.  etc. are thrown at you.   Can you spell u-n-s-u-b-s-t-a-n-t-i-a-t-e-d?
  • Just note the big-titled sources and mind-numbing statistics listed to give the article the feel of veracity in lieu of verifiable facts.
  • HOW FORTUITOUS for me:  a new release in this study of uncertainties provides an example of expert fear-mongering-for-publicity-space to enhance the status of (…please understand my loathing to use this word) “experts.”  Seems some group has determined that burned breakfast foods have been found to contain a (possibly) harmful substance; the FDA chimed in with a “maybe” warning.  They specified breakfast, so, I guess if you eat the burned toast at lunch you gonna be in the clear.

TYSK 4.  STUDIES ON A GIVEN SUBJECT ARE INTERMITTENT AND CYCLIC:  good, bad, good, bad, good…   you get the picture.

TYSK 5.  THE TIMING OF THE RELEASES AND WHY THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS COUNTER TO CURRENT PUBLIC THINKING

  • “Timing” is easy.  “We are running out of money for all the salaries being paid and need to show fruits of research in order to keep the grant bank open.  We want to keep this sweet gig going as long as possible.”
  • Why counter to public thinking?  In a few words, TO GET ATTENTION.  If you have a yellow announcement posted with a lot of other same shade yellow announcements (same old same old), your bid for the fabled 15-minutes of fame does not stand out and your opinion…   uh…   your biased assertions…   uh, hold on now, I think I’ve got it…   your “scientific conclusions” will go unappreciated.
  • Turf-marking amongst the elite “experts.”  Check with author Diana Gainer^^ (New Title 2:  The Human Journey, available at Amazon.com) who noted that, if you dig up old bones that have been previously named, no one remembers you.   If you can claim those bones are a new type, you get to name them and people remember you.  Authoritarians are no different from gangs or wild animal packs guarding their claimed territories assiduously.  Basically, that means…
  • THE RANKER YOUR MARKING MEDIUM (as attested to by Fido the dog and Tom the cat), THE MORE NOTICIBLE YOUR PERSONA.  Others get a whiff of you, and their ears perk up.

I guess I am old-fashioned; if you tell me with authority that PROBLEM “X” is going to kill me, I am expecting more in the way of reasons than “IT IS SUSPECTED THAT…,”   “MAYBE…,”   “THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT…,”   and ‘IT COULD BE THAT…”   To me, those are all just variations of…

  • “Blow this up your butt and feel the burn — and, by the way, my name is DR. G. WHIZZ, with 2 z’s…   That’s right, TWO Z’s.  And, YES, I AM A DOCTOR!”

That was just a personal aside so that you feel I am close enough to share my dark side; in the interest of “truth in opinionating,” here is TYSK 6, which is my personal itch aggravated by the unholy union of gossip-journalism [which is (1) the typical genre of today’s info media, and (2) doing it for the money) and pseudo-science (which (1) is doing it for the money, and (2) can be grouped with pop-psychology).

  • TYSK 6.  That kind of crap REALLY pisses me off.  (And, judging from comments affixed to Jenny’s article, a lot of others feel the same way.)

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently provided background music for the gossip- and pseudo- adherents with its “burnt-stuff-for-breakfast” warning — lots of if, maybe, it could be, etc.  Next, we can expect to see litigator ambulance-chasing ads such as —

  • “If your bread or sausage, or that of a loved one living or dead, tends to burn when you over cook it, it is NOT your fault, nor that of your dead or living loved one.  YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION from the bakers and packers who failed to include FDA approved fire-retardants in the base mixtures.  Contact us at 1-800-FillMyPpockets.  We are…

(Here, you may insert one of the following proven client grabbersChristians…   Big Business Tamers…   Champions of the common people…   et cetera ad nauseum)

  • “…SO YOU CAN TRUST US TO GET YOU WHAT YOU DESERVE.”

 ________________________

*Obnoxious pop-ups

**Posting stuff on the web (my definition)

***Alluded to by Dr. Paul Euan, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association

^Dr. Carl Lavie, Oschner Medical Center, New Orleans

^^I do not know how the science community views Ms. Gainer, but, since she seems to use clarity of thought in her comparisons, I suspect she is persona-non-grata at the annual mutual-admiration meetings of the Science Boys Clubs.

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Does The Yellow Ever Go Away?

Posted on May 13, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Alas, Virginia, no!  And, by “no” I mean “absolutely not.”  I am afraid it’s the “pecking order” thing embedded deep in the genes of all multi-cellular life.  Oh, yeah, you got your goody 2-shoes, reformers of human nature, tolerance, Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Dr. Fraud…   Freud…   but, all of that is basically just spittin’ into the wind — you just can’t change a leopard’s spots.  At least, not overnight.  A million years or so of natural selection might do the trick, but, really, who has that kind of time?  Best thing to do is just go with the flow, adapt to it, resign yourself to it, etc…   There will always be a little yellow in every headline-grabbing story.  (Uhmmm, on a personal note, Virginia, you don’t still believe in Santa, do you?)

Marketing.  That’s what they call “yellow” these days.  Like, if it’s playoff time, they media-hype old rivalries or even print stuff that CREATES controversy just to make sales; or, if it’s election time, they play on old phobias and Elysian dreams.  The line-up to identify the current opinion hot button contains the usual suspects:  economy, jobs, taxes, global warming, integrity (we’re talking about politicians here, right?“), improper conduct, family values, lifestyles…   They parade before the editors until someone says, “There!  That one.  That’s the incumbent’s (or challenger’s) Achilles’ heel.”  Then, depending on which runner is favored by the media, the order goes out, “Minimize the importance of that” or “Play it up really big.”

And, by “minimize,” they mean, “Bury it.  The stupid masses needn’t bother themselves with such trivia.”

And, by “play it up,” they mean, “Exaggerate the crap out of it.  Shock and awe the stupid masses into our line of thinking…   and voting.”

I do not mean to imply that main stream publishers and broadcasters are subject to being biased like the rest of us.  If you are having to infer anything from my text, then I am not being so clear as I think I am.  So, just to be sure you get my drift:   ALL MEDIA ARE BIASED, PRONE TO EXAGGERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR OFFERINGS, AND TAILOR THEIR MESSAGES TO A TARGET AUDIENCE.  Does that make it clearer?  Like Diogenes’ search for an honest man, the search for an unbiased reporter/blatherer can go into serious over-time.

Responsibility and veracity are very important in information transmission.  But, it is the individual recipient who bears full responsibility to test the veracity of information content and its sources.  You have the freedom to either be brainwashed without resistance, or, to demand to see the ingredient notice for the washing solution so you at least have some reading material during the rinse cycle.

Next up:  Panache, smoke, and mirrors

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Veracity

Posted on April 23, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Olfactory, optical, auditory, tactile…   (Awright!  Smell, sight, hearing, touch!  Happy now?)…   all are senses used to communicate information.  All organisms — fungi, plants, microbes, animals — use one or more of these tools to send and receive information vital to its species’ survival.  Every transmittal is a signal to another that it should respond in kind, do nothing, or initiate an  appropriate complementary action.  All of these signals and responses are, in essence, words, sentences, and paragraphs in that great big story called LIFE.  Consider these basic abilities as hardware essential to each living entity. 

And the CPU?  Easy enough to describe in anything with a recognizable nervous system, but, in anything below that, speculation becomes the sport of the day.  In my mind, since everything we call living must follow the “acquire or avoid” protocol, then everything must have some kind of information processor to determine the appropriate course to follow.  The extent to which this is applied to any one organism is up to the biases of individual observers.

Application of the garnered information may be information specific (a given input always resulting in the same output or action) or situation specific (a given input is weighed against several possible actions, each with a different outcome, before one is decided on).  In essence, through memory and manipulation of available and remembered data, the entity is considering “What if?”

With apparently little in the way of reasoning abilities, plants have been lying to insects for…   well…   a very long time.  Pitcher plants scream out to little bugs, “Hey, I’m just a nice piece of delicious carrion,” and the little bugs jump right into the plants’ stomachs, and we all know how that ends.  Male bees, eager to jump the bones exoskeletons of very receptive female bees, excitedly land on the petals of devious, cross-dressing plants, and, instead of contributing to their own species’ future, wind up artificially inseminating the plants relatives.  Insects, fish, snapping turtles and a host of others practice this prevarication.  A little misinformation can go a  long way toward furthering the liar’s goal.

All life-forms predate humanity, and, story telling is integral to that history.  Deception, based on understanding another’s probable response to received information, rivals it for longevity.  It should be no surprise that humans also are capable of taking an elemental trait and retooling it for self-benefit. 

Knowing our own innate predilection for manipulating data for personal gain, it is easy to attribute such behavior to others of our kind.  Thus, it becomes essential that we get pretty good at ferreting out deceptive intents.

Veracity of content is an elusive shape-shifting phantom, being defined only by the view points of both the story teller and the reader (recipient).  If news is being reported, it can be related straight up as a blow-by-blow account, or, a colorized version can be presented in several ways, such as the use of words that impart opinions, like:   Mr. Wilson questioned the Mayor, who responded with “Absolutely!” vs. Mr. Wilson impatiently questioned the Mayor, whose reply, “Absolutely!”  belied his 4-year track record in office.  A little extra here, some more over there, and, before you know it, a news item becomes a political commentary.   What more can you expect?  Brian the Anchor’s motto echoes through the industry:   “We have to interpret it for the stupid masses (that be us, their audiences) so they can understand it the way we want.”  (Brian didn’t actually say that directly.  I just processed what he did say through my own personal antipathy toward his ilk — and the track record of that ilk.)  And, I really hope that I am talking to people who didn’t believe that tabloid account — with photograph — of the ET presenting a bouquet of flowers to President Clinton.

Next up:  “Freedom of” does not mean “responsibility to…”

 

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The Merger

Posted on April 1, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The rise of the experts (specialists in a given field) was important in the progress of human social evolutions.  This focus on specific areas allowed improvements (fine tuning) to innovations in every field, including medicine, engineering, navigation, transportation…   and even blog comment spamming.

Traveling circuses and carnivals of yore used an advance man to stir public interest ahead of their arrival at the next stop on their tour.  Experts, climbing higher and higher in their ivory towers, and, their views experiencing unfamiliar competition from an expanding Smart Dude membership base, found that staying on top wasn’t easy.  Protecting the purity of their intellectual turf required frequent and wide distribution of their assertions.  What they needed was a Gatling gun approach to information dissemination, and, that Gutenberg innovation, attended by a retinue of neophytes, should be compliant enough to fulfill that need for publicity.   …Maybe I should say “public authentication.”

The printing business was meandering along, searching for its identity, and the needs of the Great Learned provided a focus for their efforts.  So, between the story of a bar fight over in Shadyville and the fashion highlights of the attendees at the Grand Opera (strictly an upper-class affair), they could now slip in Sir Isaac Newton’s great revelation that things over you head could fall on your head, given the right circumstances.  It is incredible that mankind had mucked along for thousands of millenia unaware of such a thing.  But, like Al Gore’s invention of the internet, Newton’s invention of gravity opened brave new worlds everywhere.  Chalk 2 up for the Great Learned Experts.

As a union, this merger was not destined to last.  On one side, the individuals comprising the Great Learned camp had turf issues (“My idea is better than you idea any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Besides, you don’t even know what you are talking about.”  That kind of professional objectiveness.)  On the other side, veracity seemed to be an issue; actually, a non-issue with some segments who felt a story ought to be just a story, not necessarily an accurate account of anything;  it’s all about sales.  In street jargon, many of these inkers were just sluts for a scoop.  And, never, never forget they had the big P.  Since, for ink fodder, anything with letters or illustrations could be printed, and business was booming through the industrial revolution, the experts needed the grown-up printing industry more than printers needed the experts.  The apprentice became the master.  Information disseminators were now the experts.

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