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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 11 2016, @04:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-the-facts,-ma'am dept.

The Washington Post reports on a video from the television series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver regarding flaws in science and in reporting about science.

Topics touched upon by Mr. Oliver include p-hacking, exploratory studies vs. confirmational studies, press releases, the "telephone" effect, animal testing, oversimplification, industry funding, sample sizes, and TED talks.


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  • (Score: 1, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @07:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @07:10PM (#344816)

    Sigh the Snowden interview is probably one of the best things to happen for Snowden. If he did not learn that the way to get the general public to care about something is by hitting them in the junk he is way too nerdy to fulfill his mission of opening dialogue.

    John Oliver is an idiot though you don't seem to be smart enough to identify the real problem. Frequently he drags out facts that are flat out incorrect and uses them to justify things erroneously. He gets a pass because he is funny.

    I like the topics he covers but he is a comedy show. At least 10% of the stuff he says I notice is wrong in detail. Thats pretty bad the actual rate must be much worse.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @08:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2016, @08:01PM (#344843)

    Sigh the Snowden interview is probably one of the best things to happen for Snowden. If he did not learn that the way to get the general public to care about something is by hitting them in the junk he is way too nerdy to fulfill his mission of opening dialogue.

    It seems you didn't understand my point. Maybe using that tactic for the Snowden interview was an effective way to get the audience to care, but that does not bode well for the audience's intelligence. It's truly sad that that is about the only way to get people to care about something that threatens democracy itself.

    John Oliver is an idiot though you don't seem to be smart enough to identify the real problem. Frequently he drags out facts that are flat out incorrect and uses them to justify things erroneously. He gets a pass because he is funny.

    Yeah, because it takes a real genius to figure out that he sometimes believes things that are incorrect and reaches faulty conclusions. Good work!

    I am not talking about Oliver, but his audience.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by lentilla on Thursday May 12 2016, @12:49AM

      by lentilla (1770) on Thursday May 12 2016, @12:49AM (#344968)

      Maybe using that tactic for the Snowden interview was an effective way to get the audience to care, but that does not bode well for the audience's intelligence.

      And that is democracy for you.

      In a democracy - in order that anything changes - a small number of smart people need to either convince or cajole a much larger number of considerably-less-smart people that something is worth doing or caring about. So whilst you bemoan "the audience's intelligence" - this is par-on-course for any topic involving more nuance than "a chicken in every pot".

      If a message is important enough to communicate, then it is likely it will have to be communicated in different ways to different people. Some people have an ability to immediately grasp implication - these are the kind of people that inherently understand why Snowden is important. For everybody else, different tactics are required.

      A favourite sales tactic involves gently steering your client to tell you (the putative salesman) exactly what is causing them an issue and why. In short: arrange that the customer tells you why he actively wants you to sell a product that will solve a problem.

      Sometimes a communicator is simply fighting for space to get their message across. People are being bombarded with information and a lot of it gets lost in the noise. If your filters aren't top-notch, it's far easier to go "ah, yeah, like whatever" because you can simply tune out the 99% of junk: the unimportant, the lies, and the misinformation - at the cost of occasionally missing that all-important 1%.

      So sometimes low-brow humour is a useful tool in a communicator's arsenal. It buys a tiny bit of head-space in the audience. If you crack a joke about three letter agencies salivating over "your wife's junk" what you are really doing is getting people to stop and think: hmmm, I don't like the sound of that..., gee heck, I'd really get some curry from my wife over that..., hang on a second, why are people staring at pictures of my wife anyway?..., I wonder what else they can do?..., I really don't like the sound of that..., Now I'm mad as hell... And thus the battle gains another fighter.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2016, @07:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2016, @07:59AM (#345119)

    I like the topics he covers but he is a comedy show. At least 10% of the stuff he says I notice is wrong in detail. Thats pretty bad the actual rate must be much worse.

    So... there are entire "news" channels dedicated to pushing a (mostly fictional) narrative. CNN fired it's entire investigative journalism department [cc.com] (a segment done by... John Oliver, when he was at the Daily Show). There is no more news, only "infotainment".

    ... and you have a problem with what is primarily a comedy program having "only" 80-90% accuracy rating. I long for the days when serious news shows had such high standards.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2016, @04:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2016, @04:05PM (#345278)

      Not just infotainment, but sponsored infotainment imagine yourself in a BMW that is indistinguishable Emirates cares from actual the American beer content.

      • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Thursday May 12 2016, @04:24PM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12 2016, @04:24PM (#345291)

        Not just infotainment, but sponsored infotainment imagine yourself in a BMW that is indistinguishable Emirates cares from actual the American beer content.

        It may be that I am only similar in capability to the slow members of Oliver's audience, but I have no idea what the above means.