bias showing

Last Friday, Micheal D. Shear posted an article on the NYT blog, The Caucus,  about Jon Stewart’s devastating bit in which he played clips from the present and far past of Republicans using the same words and phrases to describe their approach to governing if elected. (link to blog post and comments)

It was a funny bit. Eileen and I watched the show and found it entertaining. All politicians claim to have fresher better ideas than their opponents.

As I often do with online articles and blogs I scrolled through the comments on the article.  I’m interested in reading online comments even when they are extreme and cryptic.

Usually most comments on any news blog agree with or violently disagree with what they have read. This is partly, I think, because of the phenomenon I read about a few years ago. Readers (and viewers and listeners) tend to not realize their own bias or they also tend to not perceive a bias when it is one they agree with. What they are reading (watching, listening to) just seems sensible to them.

If, on the other hand, they disagree with what they are perceiving, they are quicker to “see” bias whether it is there or not.

I like reading comments (and letters to the editor). It interests me most when I am convinced that the writer is a real person writing from a real point of view (as opposed to a manufactured persona to put forth some kind of “framing” or someone writing and committing the common errors of bad logic or even just plain dissembling).

One commenter  on the NYT blog  linked above,  judithod of Minnesota, pointed out that one could do the Jon Stewart bit with Democrats as well.  This caused me to think a bit. Very likely she is correct about this.

Another commenter (who obviously did not agree with the blog or appreciate Jon Stewart’s humor), Steve W from Ford Washington, began his comment this way:

Oh! How clever of you to run a snarky piece on a comedian rather than even a peep about the explosive tesimony of the former Head of section for the voter rights section of the Department of Justice who today in sworn testimony, testified about deliberate subversion of justice at the AG’s shop and subsequent cover up that goes to the top in the Department of Justice and possibly the White House.

What in the world was this guy talking about? Who was he talking about?

In my spare time (hah!) between then and now, I poked around until I had a better understanding.

When I start  trying to find out if information is true on the web, I look very hard at the web sites themselves.

I found a fairly balanced article on the Christian Science Monitor web site: New Black Party Intimidation Case: Bombshell for Obama?

I also looked through some obviously inflammatory biased writing just to try and understand what the commenter was trying to say.

One of them linked me into the Southern Poverty Law Institute: Feds investigate dropping of Panther Case

I have been a long admiring of this organization, so I give them a lot of credibility.

In my research I ran across a lot of articles from Fox news which seemed to contradict what I understood about the situation. Then I found this: Fox whopper: DOJ said Voting Rights Act wasn’t violated in New Black Panthers case | Media Matters for America

I recently heard Jimmy Carter (okay, okay, it was on Jon Stewart’s show) say that Fox news basically does nothing but distort information. This report reminded me of his comment.

Anyway, it looked to me like the Steve W of Ford Washington was incorrect to suggest a bias was showing in the NYT choice to run an article on Stewart’s goofy comic bit in the face of serious, serious charges against the Obama administration’s investigation of civil rights violations.

It turns out that Christopher Coates, the man who testified and was mentioned by Steve W, was himself the possible victim of what is described (framed?) by angry white people as “reverse discrimination.” If you scroll down in the Media Matters link you find Christopher Coates  did a complete turn around from being an ACLU supporter to a “member of the Bush team” at DOJ after he had been passed over for a promotion for a black colleague.


Also, this morning I clicked on the Steve W commenter link on the NYT and found that he is a prolific angry guy in the links and comments on the NYT.

I blog about this not so much about the content but to point out that if one wants to find out a bit more information about something, the web is only helpful if you are careful and smart about what you are reading.

This of course includes the NYT.

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0 thoughts on “bias showing

  1. After reading some of your prior blogs and this current one I felt compelled to respond. Nothing major, just an observation. In your current blog you examine the NYT and commentaries very closely, almost excessively, which is classic for you. However, as I read your blog when you contemplated your recent attendance at your ballet and the workshop, there were some things that I mentally noted. For example, your rendition of the workshop hints of classic attempts at self actualization or awareness, which from my perspective includes human’s natural tendencies towards moderation or balance. Examples of this include medical problems whereby when we are “physically off” or sick, our natural tendencies are towards obtaining our balance back (physical wellness). Another example of this is the psychological aspect of balance (no surprise I am talking about that huh?). For instance when one is unbalanced mentally (say with obsessive thoughts to the point of functional imapairment) sometimes the tendency of the obsessed (unless insight is non-existent) and those who assist the obsessed is to follow a stark path towards balance that was the initial state of mind of the obsessed. Yes that was a bit vague, but I am sure you get the point. The same could be said about culture, religion, politics, etc…all the things I tend to not discuss with others intensely, but moderately. My observation is that this happens across every aspect of our existence, this being balance via moderation. This also leads into philosophical domains, which I am just not up to discussing or digressing on (such as selflessness, selfishness, morality, awareness, etc). Basically this comment has no bearing on anything, but getting it out of my head helps me so I can focus on dissertation stuff….8O)
    Hope things are well.

  2. David,

    Things are well out here in Michigan. Thanks very much for commenting on my blog. I always like to hear your take on stuff. I guess musicians often are sort of self-actualizers, eh? Especially if they are self starters. I have a notion of the Maslow stuff, but just from my own auto didactic type reading and thinking. I am an obsessive I know, but so far I don’t detect that it impairs my functioning or my attempts to balance my life. In fact, I think a good dose of OCD might be part of being a disciplined anything really. But again, I’m Mr Amateur in all this. Again, thanks for reading, dude!

  3. Hey don’t misconstrue the comment crazy. Don’t be that guy who personalized the NYT article…my blanket opinion is only Driven by my goal to freely get my thoughts out of my head. Your blog is up for critical analysis, seeing as how it is public domain. I would never insinuate that you are functionally impaired in any manner, for this is not my place. My examples are simple and again only pertain to my internal dialogue and limited persona expertise. I only noted an observation and provided examples. I would however argue that musicians are not necessarily self actualizers by nature, but more self induldged with what they see as in thier interpersonal interests. I would pose that musicians like you are a rarity in that they are induldging in such profound introspection. Plus many are not as savy in the literary term. My impressions of many musicians is that they are self induldged to the point of exclusion, which is both constructive and destructive. I have a lot of respect for you and musicians like you, but I also recognize and encourage continuEd growth both intellectually and physically in the interest of the pursuit of self actualization and idealistic perfectionism.

  4. Interesting that you see musicians as self indulgent. Does this include classical musicians? I was thinking of people who spend their lives honing and continually improving their skills. Maybe I misunderstand self actualization…. I think of it as people who seek meaning in life and are willing to do what it takes to get there and are largely motivated on their own. Is that not it?

  5. Sorry my stupid iphone crashed and I am restoring it as I write this post. my understanding of self actualization or the pursuit there of is solely based on the Maslow’s HON. it is the state of mind that people rarely achieve, but if they do it can be a very fulfilling experience and drives the actualizer to produce in a higher state of mind… to speak. my experience with people has lead me to believe that most people do not reach this state of mind, but rather draw from “epiphanies” that come to them for some reason or another. This includes musicians of any sorts. Your statement about people who seek meaning in life sounds like a more philosophical inquiry to me, for meaning in life to you may be different to meaning in life for me. I don’t know. I’m just a regular dude in California trying to survive much less trying to achieve a higher state of being.


  6. Self actualization seems to me to be a more mundane and common thing than a state of mind that people rarely achieve. See my blog post today. I think you and I are both classic examples of self-actualizers, that is we have our basic needs met and seek to fulfill our potential. Where does the “higher state of being” idea come from? That actually sounds more religious to me, like nirvana or enlightenment.

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