My doctoral dissertation addressed what I called the “Frankenstein Complex.” So guess why this story bothers me.
Today, a scientific journal published a study that some people thought might never be made public at all.
The paper describes experiments that suggest just a few genetic changes could potentially make a bird flu virus capable of becoming contagious in humans, and causing a dangerous pandemic. Read more
– I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I went to my doctor a few weeks ago for the first time in months. During the course of conversation about my health and how I was doing, etc., we stumbled onto the question of why I hadn’t been in for a visit in so long. I told him that in the wake of my separation from my wife I had lost my insurance coverage (I was on her work plan) and had been unable to get insurance as a result of my pre-existing condition. Read more
Part two of two…
On Tuesday, I offered some thoughts on the sociopathic nature of some public relations agencies. Once we learn that American firms are lipsticking brutal despots and states that support terrorism it’s legitimate to wonder if there is anyone on Earth that they wouldn’t represent. I just heard a story this morning about a flak who went so far as to take on the remnants of the Khmer Rouge. So if Syria, Libya, Bahrain and the most notorious purveyors of genocide since World War 2 aren’t out of bounds, you have to figure somebody in the industry would gladly sign up Kim Jong-Il, Hitler, Stalin and the Khan boys (Genghis and Agha) for the right amount of money. Read more
Part one of two…
I work in the world of marketing and corporate communications, and my track record of business-related posts (here and at my biz site, Black Dog Strategic) probably demonstrates how seriously I take ethical concerns. For instance, not long ago I made clear that I think understanding the truth of a bad news story aimed at a client comes before worrying about how to respond. Back in November, I took a hard look at the eroding credibility of public relations as a profession and suggested that maybe the behavior of PR practitioners had a lot to do with our slide into lawyer, hooker and used car salesman territory. At various points along the way I’ve ventured opinions on everything and everybody from Toyota to Tiger Woods (to Augusta National), BP to LBJ, Target to Dillard’s, and Rupert Murdoch to the Denver Post, which used to be a newspaper.
Sometimes I comment on what strike me as merely bad strategies. Read more
Yesterday Ragan’s PR Daily, an excellent resource for professional communicators of all stripes, offered up a feature entitled “8 things to consider when TV news wants to skewer your client.” As is the usually the case with Ragan’s stuff, Gil Rudawsky’s article provided some useful on-point advice for the media relations practitioner, and the comment thread finds other experienced folks jumping into the discussion in helpful ways.
But – you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? – I can’t help quibbling a little. Let’s begin with Rudawsky’s eight points: Read more
The following two headlines are factually accurate and grammatically equivalent.
1: Spokeo Violates Federal Consumer Protection Law, Group Alleges
2: Group Alleges Spokeo Violates Federal Consumer Protection Law
However, from a journalistic ethics standpoint, item #1 is problematic.
CNN reported last week on a new study showing that liberalism, atheism and sexual exclusivity in males are linked to higher IQ scores. The findings are intriguing, for all the obvious reasons.
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Reactions have been all over the place, but there’s been strong suspicion of the findings from both “liberal” and “conservative” corners (especially conservative, as you’d expect). Which is good. Read more
Ten years ago, at the turn of the millennium, Nostraslammy took a stab at predicting the 21st Century, with a promise to check back every ten years to see how the prognostications were turning out. Odds are good I won’t be able to do a review every ten years until 2100, but I figure I’m probably good through 2030, at least, barring some unforeseen calamity. And if you’re Nostraslammy, what’s this “unforeseen” thing, anyway?
Let’s see how our 22 articles of foresight are holding up, one at a time.
1: Researchers will develop either a vaccine or a cure for AIDS by 2020. However, it will be expensive enough that the disease will plague the poor long after it has become a non-issue for the rich and middle classes (although this is one case where political leaders might fund free treatment programs). The end of AIDS will trigger a sexual revolution that will compare to or exceed that of the 1960s and 1970s (unless another deadly sexually-transmitted disease evolves, which is certainly a possibility). Read more
On September 22, Politico ran an article by Glenn Thrush that egregiously misrepresented the words of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). The subject was town hall meetings and racist comments that he had witnessed. In due course Thrush’s “error” was “pointed out” and Perriello’s actual words were substituted. (The original post, corrected, appears here.) Thrush then issued an explanation and apology.
So far, no crisis. Mistakes happen, are fixed, retractions and apologies are run, the world is right again, right? Read more
Part one of a two-part series.
From Cronkite to Couric: the Kingdom of Signal is swallowed by the Empire of Noise
The recent death of Walter Cronkite spurred the predictable outpouring of tributes, each reverencing in its own way a man who was the face and voice of journalism in America for a generation or more. The irony of all these accolades is that we live in an age where “broadcast journalist” is such a cruel oxymoron, and we seem to speeding headlong into an era where the word “journalist” itself threatens to become a freestanding joke. Why, against this backdrop, would so many people who are so involved in the daily repudiation of everything that Cronkite stood for make such a show memorializing the standard by which they so abjectly fail?
As I read what people had to say about Cronkite, I realized that something I studied and wrote about over a decade ago helps explain why our contemporary media has gone so deeply, tragically wrong. Read more
If you’re a doctor, it might be a bit unseemly to run a funeral home next door. If you’re a teacher, there might be some ethical concerns with peddling crack to your kids during recess.
And if you’re a pharmacy…
Once they were drug stores. Then they became pharmacies. And now? These days they’re in the business of business. The welfare of their customers? Fuck off, socialist.
I stopped into a Walgreens to pick up some batteries. If you’ve been in a modern drug store you know that they have the pharmacy in the back along with all the over-the-counter medications and up front they have all the stuff that – and let’s be honest here – helps fortify the market for prescription and OTC meds. I could go on here about the foodstuffs, for instance, about the many nefarious, even Dante-esque levels of corn syrup, preservative and transfat Hell, but I won’t. Instead I’ll just show you a picture I took while waiting in line. Read more
We can probably agree that it’s good to have goals. In business, especially, it’s good to know where you’re going and to have some mechanisms that help you chart and evaluate your progress.
Increasingly, though, we’re presented with more and more evidence suggesting that our goal-setting can easily go awry, and with dramatically counter-productive results. If you’ve read Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s outstanding Freakonomics you probably recall their investigation of teacher-fueled cheating on standardized tests, for instance. While most of would agree in principle that our educational system should adhere to the highest standards possible, it’s clear that something went badly wrong in that system. If you know any teachers, you may also have heard (in tones ranging from quiet exasperation to unbridled rage) how goal-setting is failing in other places, as well, and for many of the same reasons. Read more
I come before you this morning with a morality play, a modern-day American fable. I’d call the following, which made its way to me a few days ago, a true story, but since I wasn’t actually present I suppose I can’t swear to its accuracy. I will say that the source is someone I have come to respect and trust, and I believe that what I am about to relate is, in fact, true, even if the facts are off an inch or two in places. So I’ll change the names to protect myself from malevolent whores litigious types and leave you to decide if it all seems plausible.
Meet Danielle Jones
My source is a woman we’ll call Anne. Read more
CountyFair had an important and much-needed lesson in journalistic ethics for us this morning. The key points:
First: it should never, ever be considered acceptable to quote a candidate or official making a false claim without noting its falsity. Reporters do this all the time, justifying it by saying they’re just presenting both sides, or that they aren’t making the false claim, they’re just reporting it, or saying they corrected three other false claims in the article. That is not sufficient: if a journalist includes a false or misleading claim in their news report — in any form — without indicating that is false, they are actively helping to spread misinformation.
Second: the way in which news reports debunk misinformation matters a great deal. Read more