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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Links - 22nd September 2018 (1)

Who Is Fact Checking The Media Fact Checkers? - "In the past, fact checkers tended to focus mainly on debunking urban myths or clearly false claims made by political leaders. But lately, fact checkers have appointed themselves as arbiters of the credibility of news outlets. And now, giant tech companies like Google and Facebook have enlisted these "experts" to weed out "fake news."... The problem is that fact checkers themselves can be unreliable sources for what's true or not. Fact checkers make their own mistakes. They sometimes change ratings based on new information. Or they make determinations based on arbitrary standards that can change from one review to the next. Case in point: PolitiFact called a 2012 Mitt Romney campaign ad its "lie of the year" for a statement about Jeeps being made in China. PolitiFact admitted that the "lie" in the ad was actually the "literal truth." We had firsthand experience with errant fact checks when Snopes published one in April claiming that IBD had "resuscitated" a "false" claim about 3.5 million more registered voters than eligible voters. In fact, we'd published that editorial eight months earlier — as was obvious from the time stamp on the article itself. (It went viral this spring on Facebook.) Snopes later rewrote that section of its fact check — but never acknowledged its original mistake. It also changed the ruling on the underlying claims from "false" to "mixture." Fact checkers also often "check" opinions, rather than factual claims, even though two people can form diametrically opposed opinions based on the same facts. Worse, many media "fact checks" use other media sources to check facts, apparently forgetting that journalists get their facts wrong almost as often as politicians... [they] often seem to spend most of their time trying to debunk claims made by conservatives rather than liberals. Thankfully, Real Clear Politics has stepped into the breach by creating what it calls Fact Check Review. Not only does the site regularly review problematic "fact checks," it constantly updates a database on fact checks published Snopes,, PolitiFact, New York Times, Washington Post and the Weekly Standard. It then rates them based on how often each site checks opinions rather than facts... "It's basically a way for a bunch of reporters with no particular expertise to render pseudoscientific judgments on statements from public figures that are obviously argumentative or otherwise unverifiable. Then there's the matter of them weighing in with thundering certitude — pants on fire! — on complex policy debates they frequently misunderstand." In the end, the best way to judge the veracity of claims being tossed around is to become better informed about the issues, not contract out that job to people who aren't necessarily qualified to do for you."
When partisan hacks do "fact checking"...

Biased Media, Average Americans Not In Sync On What's Important - "Based on recent news, you would be forgiven for thinking that everyone in America is talking about Russia and Vladimir Putin. But it ain't so. Indeed, if you go down the whole range of media preoccupations and biases, you find that average people just don't care about them. That's not just opinion. The Gallup Poll people each month ask respondents to answer the following question: "What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?"... survey after survey show that average Americans believe the media to be both a.) liberal and b.) biased. It's a big reason why the media float near the bottom of nearly every survey of most respected institutions in America. Maybe the media shouldn't be so worried about fake news, but instead about their own irrelevance."

Women finding themselves locked out of corporate Canada’s boys' club in wake of #MeToo - "A lawyer is asked whether a male executive should leave the door open when meeting with a woman. A consultant’s longtime male client will take a meeting with her only if someone else is in the room... leaders in corporate Canada have so far been left unscathed. Still, women in business say they are facing a resulting “chilling effect” on their relationships with male colleagues and supervisors... Toronto employment lawyer Sunira Chaudhri has fielded an increasing number of calls from her corporate clients worried about sexual harassment in their workplace – mostly from those wondering whether they need to change policies around co-ed one-on-one meetings, mentorship, office parties, business trips and dinners... many small- and medium-sized workplaces don’t have the resources to formally train workers and managers around handling sexual harassment or office dynamics. Others, she said, simply don’t have the nerve."
In the world of #metoo, false accusations never happen

Honeytrap spy stole secrets of new RAF jet: Female agent hacked airwoman's Tinder profile to target stealth fighter crews involved in the £9bn F-35 project - "a serving member of the RAF had their online dating profile hacked. It subsequently transpired that the perpetrator then attempted to befriend another serving member of the RAF to apparently elicit comment and detail on F-35"

Women-only network appoints male chairman - "AllBright announced that Allan Leighton, chairman of the Co-operative Group, had taken the role"

Inducing People’s Employers to Fire Them Should Be a Civil Wrong - "In societies lacking functioning legal systems, feuds founded on self-help can descend into vendettas. Jared Diamond in The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? details his experiences in Papua New Guinea, where a driver named Malo accidentally strikes and kills a young boy named Billy. Diamond notes that in Papua New Guinea, drivers are allowed to flee the scene and head to the nearest police station because bystanders might drag them from their cars and beat them to death... While “an eye for an eye” may look bloodthirsty to us now, it was in fact an effort by ancient civilizations to forestall blood vendettas. In other words, the retributive response to an injury should be proportionate to the original injury, and the matter ends once proportionate retribution has been taken. Unlike Malo, the victims of a social media mobbing can’t flee... civil recourse theorists argue one of the aims of tort law is to prevent self-help as much as possible, particularly when it takes violent forms if people feel they’ve been wronged. Instead, courts vindicate the victim’s rights in a public forum. While social media inflames tensions, the law aims to remove emotion and passion from disputes... I could fit into several disadvantaged boxes if I wanted to, but I have spent my life trying to overcome disadvantage, not being defined by it... I’ve received it myself for expressing certain opinions in public, and I’ve recently seen others (both colleagues and friends) receive similar abuse. Entire topics are off-limits for public discussion for me because of the abuse I received in the past. After my experience, several people told me, “We think the same as you do, but we’d never say it publicly.” Goodness knows, many others may have similar doubts to me, but we’ll never know, and in the meantime social policy will be predicated upon a totally different set of assumptions."

Saudi Arabia appeared to threaten Canada with a 9/11-style attack in a feud over human rights - "Saudi Arabia’s state media on Monday tweeted a graphic appearing to show an Air Canada airliner heading toward the Toronto skyline in a way that recalled the September 11, 2001, terrorist hijackings of airliners that struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The graphic warned of “Sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong!” and included the text: “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.'”"

Saudi Arabia crucified a man in Mecca while aggressively calling out Canada over human rights - "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia put a man to death on a cross in the holy city of Mecca on Wednesday, while waging a public relations battle to call out alleged human rights violations in Canada... Saudi-owned media blasted Canada for arresting a holocaust denier and other citizens. TV pundits brought up Canada's suicide rate in what appeared as a broadside against the country's way of living."

Why The U.S. Chills Its Eggs And Most Of The World Doesn't

No, women aren’t at risk from men - "The bind for today’s professional feminist is the more power and influence she gains, the harder she needs to work to show that women are still oppressed. Some career feminists get around this conundrum by claiming they are not representing their own interests but selflessly fighting for other women. Apparently, countless hordes of downtrodden women, unable to speak up for themselves, are just waiting for feminists to give voice to their concerns. But as only a small minority of women identify as feminists (estimates vary between a third and seven per cent), the response to all this speaking on behalf of others seems to be a resounding ‘no thanks’. The last resort of the professional, well-paid, powerful feminist, desperate to prove her credentials as a member of an oppressed group, is to allude to violence... Conflating the experiences of women all around the world, and of adult women with children, allows professional feminists to claim suffering by proxy. At the same time, the definition of violence seems to broaden by the day. The internationally agreed definition of violence against women and girls is: ‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women [or girls], including threats of such acts.’ In the UK and the US, violence encompasses sexual harassment – which includes winking, whistling and looking at someone for too long. Amnesty International describes women’s experiences of ‘violence and abuse on Twitter’. In 2017, the organisers of a women’s strike against President Trump described ‘the violence of the market, of debt, of capitalist property relations, and of the state; the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women’. This is not violence as a physical act, but violence as metaphor. No wonder it is experienced everywhere... we also learn that two women are killed each week by a current or former partner. And here, immediately, is the problem with violence as metaphor. Real violence becomes relativised. When winking and nasty tweets are described as acts of violence, the word is no longer enough to describe acts of physical brutality and murder. Violence has become nothing more than a badge permitting membership of an inclusive feminist club, and this does little to support women who really are in need of help... In presenting women as vulnerable and men as violent, feminists rehabilitate some aged stereotypes that demean both men and women... Inflated claims of violence are used by feminists to justify new laws and increasingly authoritarian interventions into our everyday lives... There is nothing to suggest that rounding up street catcallers will do anything to make life better for women who are suffering from domestic violence, or girls being targeted by grooming gangs, but it will no doubt further justify the salaries, platforms and power given to today’s professional feminists."

Opinion | Among the Abortion Extremists - The New York Times - "this is a case study in exactly the problem establishment editors are trying to address by widening their pool of writers: the inability of contemporary liberalism to see itself from the outside, as it looks to the many people who for some reason, class or religion or historical experience, are not fully indoctrinated into its increasingly incoherent mix of orthodoxies. By this I mean that my pro-choice friends endorsing Williamson’s sacking can’t see that his extremism is mirrored in their own, in a system of supposedly “moderate” thought that is often blind to the public’s actual opinions on these issues, that lionizes advocates for abortion at any stage of pregnancy, that hands philosophers who favor forms of euthanasia and infanticide prestigious chairs at major universities, that is at best mildly troubled by the quietus of the depressed and disabled in Belgium or the near-eradication of Down syndrome in Iceland or the gendercide that abortion brought to Asia, that increasingly accepts unblinking a world where human beings can be commodified and vivisected so long as they’re in embryonic form."

France to stop Muslims praying in the street, interior minister says - "Worshippers began praying on the roads in March to protest the closure of a local mosque which was turned into a library... Muslims in a number of towns have resorted to praying in the streets, fuelling anti-Islam sentiment touted by France's Front National (FN)."

Fighting for the right to pray - "They knelt in the road to pray, despite the cold. Four or five hundred young men had left their offices in City law firms and banks on Friday lunch time to come hurrying through the streets of Spitalfields for the salaat al-jumma, the most important prayer of the Muslim week... Even as Allah was praised in Spitalfields, across London in the High Court a judge was ruling that it was unlawful for councils to start meetings with prayer... "Will the next step be scrapping the prayers which mark the start of each day in Parliament? "These legal rulings may also mean army chaplains could no longer serve, and that the Coronation Oath, in which the King or Queen pledges to maintain the laws of God and the lessons contained in the Gospels, would need to be abolished"

Can people own land in the ACT? - Curious Canberra - "The first 99-year leases granted will expire in 2023. It's almost universally assumed that the Government will simply roll over those leases for another 99 years."
HDB justifies 99 year leasehold by saying Hong Kong and Canberra do it too

Math is Racist: University of Illinois Professor - "A math-education professor at the University of Illinois wrote about some of the more racist aspects of math in a new anthology for teachers, arguing that “mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.”... Think that math is just math? Well, you’re wrong; math might as well be called “white math,” because as Gutierrez explained, “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”"

Feminist prof says 'traditional science' is rooted in racism - "Sara Giordano argues that "traditional science" relies on "a colonial and racialized form of power," and must be replaced with an "anti-science, antiracist, feminist approach to knowledge production.”... Sara Giordano, who left the field of neuroscience to become a Women’s Studies professor at UC-Davis, opened up about her feelings towards the sciences in a recent essay for Catalyst, a journal of feminist theory."
There're interesting parallels with Kurt Wise, whose story of throwing away science because it contradicts the Bible Dawkins relates
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