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Thread: How do YOU know when something is true?

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    How do YOU know when something is true?

    In light of the heated political discussions here these past days, I began to think about the philosophical question related to our ideas about and our sources of truth. When we were youngsters, our parents were our source of truth (at least until we found out about Santa and the Easter Bunny).

    As an adult, how do you know what is true? Are there trusted sources you go to for knowledge or is it mostly your own internal logic? More specifically, what makes you so sure that what you are saying on here in the political debates is really correct?
    (old Gaelic saying) Chan eil h-uile facal sireadh freagairt. Not every question requires an answer.

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    If the CBO scores something as costing $X or creating Y number of jobs, I take that a little more seriously than when a politician says it.

    If NPR reports something in the news, I trust that they have the least amount of intention to incite a visceral reaction from their audience in relation to other news outlets.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyBraska View Post
    (at least until we found out about Santa and the Easter Bunny)
    And the baby Jesus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post
    If the CBO scores something as costing $X or creating Y number of jobs, I take that a little more seriously than when a politician says it.

    If NPR reports something in the news, I trust that they have the least amount of intention to incite a visceral reaction from their audience in relation to other news outlets.

    And the baby Jesus

    Actually, "intention to incite a visceral reaction from the audience" is EXACTLY what Mike Daisey was trying to do when he fabricated news on NPR for the story about Apple Computer manufacturing in China. And they later found he had done it on multiple stories over time.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...-factory-story

    I am teetering on the edge of pure nihilism myself.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by MyBraska View Post
    In light of the heated political discussions here these past days, I began to think about the philosophical question related to our ideas about and our sources of truth. When we were youngsters, our parents were our source of truth (at least until we found out about Santa and the Easter Bunny).

    As an adult, how do you know what is true? Are there trusted sources you go to for knowledge or is it mostly your own internal logic? More specifically, what makes you so sure that what you are saying on here in the political debates is really correct?
    I try to do the math... I did pretty well in physics and chemistry and am an engineer.... Throw in World and American History, Legal principals classes... Bible Study... then you try to fall back to the more factual lessons in economics and time value of money... and then there is the biggest source of wealth destruction... the Efficient Market Hypothesis... Oh well, I did pretty well until I got to that one...

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskernut View Post
    Actually, "intention to incite a visceral reaction from the audience" is EXACTLY what Mike Daisey was trying to do when he fabricated news on NPR for the story about Apple Computer manufacturing in China. And they later found he had done it on multiple stories over time.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...-factory-story

    I am teetering on the edge of pure nihilism myself.
    That Mike Daisey story was run on This American Life - not strictly an NPR production (distributed by Public Radio International as I understand it) and not even really a news program. A couple weeks ago they ran an essay about some lady whose dad married a Thai mail order bride and then ran off to Thailand to be with his other Thai bride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post
    That Mike Daisey story was run on This American Life - not strictly an NPR production (distributed by Public Radio International as I understand it) and not even really a news program. A couple weeks ago they ran an essay about some lady whose dad married a Thai mail order bride and then ran off to Thailand to be with his other Thai bride.
    OK. It's not NPR, but it does run on most public radio stations. And Ira Glass has said they they are a news program in their journalistic ethics, and that what Daisey did was wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post
    That Mike Daisey story was run on This American Life - not strictly an NPR production (distributed by Public Radio International as I understand it) and not even really a news program. A couple weeks ago they ran an essay about some lady whose dad married a Thai mail order bride and then ran off to Thailand to be with his other Thai bride.
    We appear to catch a lot of the same NPR, I heard that story too. Daisey is a bad example to pin on NPR, he used them, fabricated all sorts of stuff for a successful one man show, publicized his stuff in many other corners than NPR (PRI, whatever), he was a con man and he has been exposed.

    Generally speaking, I think journalistic integrity is going down the toilet and has been for some time, it's never been perfect but if you combine corporate-sponsored journalism with web "journalism," well, let's everybody triple check everything with multiple sources going forward because it ain't getting better any time soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskernut View Post
    OK. It's not NPR, but it does run on most public radio stations. And Ira Glass has said they they are a news program in their journalistic ethics, and that what Daisey did was wrong.
    Definitely - I remember seeing the guy on The Daily Show and not once did he ever say he was embellishing anything. Just sat down and started talking about all the horrible things he saw dreamed up like it was all fact. Not sure if that was intentional or if he mistakenly thought that everyone was in on the joke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post
    Definitely - I remember seeing the guy on The Daily Show and not once did he ever say he was embellishing anything. Just sat down and started talking about all the horrible things he saw dreamed up like it was all fact. Not sure if that was intentional or if he mistakenly thought that everyone was in on the joke.
    He lied through his teeth and (bizarrely) assumed in the internet age that nobody would catch him. Really shameful in that it was the most public shaming effort of Chinese factory conditions, and now that it's been proven to be bunk they'll probably get away with plenty more than that with impunity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post

    If NPR reports something in the news, I trust that they have the least amount of intention to incite a visceral reaction from their audience in relation to other news outlets.
    Inciting a visceral reaction may be one thing, and I agree that NPR keeps things pretty low key. However, they seem to have a liberal agenda when shaping the news. Current events, filtered through the jokes on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, is decidedly slanted Left, and the content of what they report or choose to NOT report on in the hourly news seems to be less focused on bad things from the Left than those from the Right. Juan Williams wrote about his NPR experience in Muzzled, The Assault On Honest Debate. And remember when James O'Keefe posed undercover as a Muslim potential donor, leading to the NPR chief Ronald Schiller's resignation for the comments he made about the Tea Party, among other things? http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/james...ry?id=13097536

    In my opinion, NPR has its place, but does not always deliver the "truth".
    (old Gaelic saying) Chan eil h-uile facal sireadh freagairt. Not every question requires an answer.

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    I don't know if you could consider any source un-biased. If you believe a source isn't biased it is probably because you agree with it and it reinforces your position.

    The first rule of being a subscriber of information is to understand the sources objectives and bias. From that you can start to build a filter and frame to consume their information.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MyBraska View Post
    Inciting a visceral reaction may be one thing, and I agree that NPR keeps things pretty low key. However, they seem to have a liberal agenda when shaping the news. Current events, filtered through the jokes on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, is decidedly slanted Left, and the content of what they report or choose to NOT report on in the hourly news seems to be less focused on bad things from the Left than those from the Right. Juan Williams wrote about his NPR experience in Muzzled, The Assault On Honest Debate. And remember when James O'Keefe posed undercover as a Muslim potential donor, leading to the NPR chief Ronald Schiller's resignation for the comments he made about the Tea Party, among other things? http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/james...ry?id=13097536

    In my opinion, NPR has its place, but does not always deliver the "truth".
    Fair enough.

    I actually haven't listened to Wait, Wait - but it's never occurred to me that I should consider information heard on a game show performed in front of a studio audience for laughs as canon, either. Most of what I listen to is during the morning commute (Morning Edition) and the evening commute (All Things Considered).

    I'd argue you aren't going to get a perfectly unbiased take from any news org. Show me one that does and I'll show you a room full of robots. Cable news is trying to get you to stay tuned in through the next commercial break. Newspapers are getting rid of actual journalism and replacing it with outsourced column space from the Philippines. (To say nothing of the fact that what's unbiased in one person's view is slanted horribly left or right in another.)

    Since we all like sources with charts and graphs, I give you this PDF showing that NPR listeners do a better job answering basic questions about domestic and international events than consumers of other media outlets. If the intent of news is to inform, which I believe it is, then NPR is winning.
    http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2012/confirmed/final.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nishioka View Post
    Fair enough.

    I actually haven't listened to Wait, Wait - but it's never occurred to me that I should consider information heard on a game show performed in front of a studio audience for laughs as canon, either. Most of what I listen to is during the morning commute (Morning Edition) and the evening commute (All Things Considered).

    I'd argue you aren't going to get a perfectly unbiased take from any news org. Show me one that does and I'll show you a room full of robots. Cable news is trying to get you to stay tuned in through the next commercial break. Newspapers are getting rid of actual journalism and replacing it with outsourced column space from the Philippines. (To say nothing of the fact that what's unbiased in one person's view is slanted horribly left or right in another.)

    Since we all like sources with charts and graphs, I give you this PDF showing that NPR listeners do a better job answering basic questions about domestic and international events than consumers of other media outlets. If the intent of news is to inform, which I believe it is, then NPR is winning.
    http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2012/confirmed/final.pdf
    You are right about the difficulty of getting an unbiased perspective - though sources on both sides like to present their perspectives as neutral or "fair and balanced". About Wait, Wait...I only bring them up because they are dealing with current news events and they give a "correct" answer at the end that passes for "truth".

    I had a philosopher ask me one time to prove that I existed, and I struggled with doing that. I had a former student once complain that he didn't come to college to get professors' opinions. He came "for the facts." When I asked him what constituted "facts", he said, "If it is in the book."

    Most of us have our own fairly entrenched positions here in the Cafe, defending them ad naseum. I was just interested in how you all came to have your "facts".
    (old Gaelic saying) Chan eil h-uile facal sireadh freagairt. Not every question requires an answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyBraska View Post
    You are right about the difficulty of getting an unbiased perspective - though sources on both sides like to present their perspectives as neutral or "fair and balanced". About Wait, Wait...I only bring them up because they are dealing with current news events and they give a "correct" answer at the end that passes for "truth".

    I had a philosopher ask me one time to prove that I existed, and I struggled with doing that. I had a former student once complain that he didn't come to college to get professors' opinions. He came "for the facts." When I asked him what constituted "facts", he said, "If it is in the book."

    Most of us have our own fairly entrenched positions here in the Cafe, defending them ad naseum. I was just interested in how you all came to have your "facts".
    What subject was that in? He must have been a STEM student... I went through the International Studies program at UNL and the only book I ever had that contained nothing but facts was from when I took computer science 155 as an elective.

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    I remember the day well. He was one of my top tennis players and was in another professor's psychology course. They had gotten into a discussion on abortion, and apparently the prof's perspective differed from his. When he came to my office to complain, saying that facts were what was in the book, I held up a book I had just written, and said, "Any idiot can write a book." He never changed his mind, even though he did probably think I was an idiot.
    (old Gaelic saying) Chan eil h-uile facal sireadh freagairt. Not every question requires an answer.


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