Unit 1 Final Assignment: Truth-O-Meter

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Lights are blinding, head pounding, a dizzy floating feeling. You have a concussion. You take the proper precautions, meet all the medical benchmarks to be cleared for a normal routine. Something is not right, you feel different. It’s harder to pay attention, focus, take notes and tests. Posted by The New York Post, a University of Wisconsin- Madison medical study, the link between concussions and academics are closely related. In the study, university students that were affected by concussions struggled 14% more in their studies. While this study didn’t consider their grades or test scores, the participants commonly had increasing trouble with focusing, time management, and note taking. This age range has been more of a question mark in the medical community. Uncovering the results of concussions on people in this age range can lead to new standards on treatment, and new ways to help these students succeed academically.

While The New York Post was the first news outlet that I saw to cover this study, it sourced the Associated Press. Upon further investigation in the Associated Press website, I found no article confirming this information. While The New York Post isn’t the most trusted news source, Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 9.34.18 PMPolitifact only has one review on them stating it’s mostly false. Light googling brought me to 2 different resources that back up the reporting of the New York Post, confirming the analysis of the study. The New York Post cites the Wisconsin State Journal; the journal contains a group of articles about concussions research. One of the articles, “Concussions linked to Academic Performance in UW-Madison students”, is written by David Wahlburg, the Wisconsin State Journal’s resident health and medicine reporter. Who also interviewed one of the leading researchers for his article. Having one of the leading researchers provides an interesting insight into what they were aiming to find in this study. Considering there are gaps in knowledge about how concussions affect this age group. According to leading researcher Traci Snedden,

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By interviewing the leading researcher, the reporting of this study by The Wisconsin Journal makes it a dependable and well rounded article. Coming from a local source to the university, the advantages of this reporting and it’s accuracy are highly likely. Especially considering the added interview with the leading researcher.

Along with the original study, the researchers are surveying local high school athletes and students. This survey of younger students has the possibility of producing evidence that the medical community has long since ignored, which is the effects of concussions on younger high school athletes and their academic success. With the proper research and medical treatment, students of all ages can continue to succeed academically. While in the future, the faculty and administration can be more proactive and knowledgeable about the longer lasting effects, concussions have on student’s academic performance, and the proper techniques needed in the short term to succeed alongside their peers.

 

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Draft: Concussions and academic performance

The blinding lights, head pounding, a dizzy floating feeling. You have a concussion. You take the proper precautions, meet all the medical benchmarks to be cleared for a normal routine. Something is not right, you feel different. It’s harder to pay attention, focus, take notes and tests. Posted by The New York Post, a UW Madison medical study, the link between concussions and academics are closely related. In the study, university students that were affected by concussions struggled 14% more in their studies. While this study didn’t consider their grades or test scores, the participants commonly had increasing trouble with focusing, time management, and note taking.

While The New York Post was the first news outlet that I saw to cover this study, it sourced the Associated Press. Upon further investigation in the Associated Press website I found no article confirming this information. While The New York Post isn’t the most trusted news source, politifact only has one review on them. Although the only review says it’s mostly false. Light googling brought me to 2 different resources that back up the reporting of the New York Post. Confirming the analysis of the study.

Along with the original study of the university students, the researchers are surveying local high school athletes and students. This survey of younger students has the possibility of producing evidence that the medical community has long since ignored, which is the effects of concussions on younger high school athletes and their academic success. With the proper research and medical treatment, students of all ages can continue to succeed academically. While in the future the faculty and administration can be more proactive and knowledgeable about the longer lasting effects concussions have on student’s academic performance, and the proper acceptances they could need in the short term to succeed alongside their peers.

Feedback on Truthometer Ideas

  1. Venezuela Socialism: The article takes the position that Venezuela isn’t failing due to the socialist policies that have been enacted and enforced by the recent dictators, but the true fault is the economy and attempting to dispel capitalism. I could go upstream and unpack the rise of socialism in the country and how things went from a developed western state to a socialist dystopia. Along with economic factors that hurt Venezuela even further, but it is a combination of things due to the social policies.
  2. Gun Control: The fact check run by NPR discusses the realities of gun control in America. NPR uses examples such as Chicago and the gun violence found there, even though there are restrictions on firearms. I’d like to go deeper and see if tighter restrictions could possibly make any difference. While also seeing if the statistics and other sources can back up what NPR posits.

3. Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants: Huffington Post suggests that undocumented immigrants should have health care offered to them by the states they’re residing in. I’d like to see statistics that complicate this scenario, and if this could be a “viable” option how would the state’s fair economically?  I’d like to go upstream and look for more statistics on undocumented immigrants and health care, while also researching laterally to uncover alternate options or statistics that are in opposition to this one.

Factcheck #4 Filter Bubbles

The filter bubbles designed to cater our news is creating a vacuum. A self contained echo chamber filled with confirmation bias and journalistic liberties. Right leaning news, left leaning news, and more mainstream news outlets are creating a venn diagram of sorts. A collection of bubbles that often have a commonality in their audience, but have the extremes of both ends of the spectrum separated by an algorithm, conscious, and unconscious decisions.

 

It’s found in the google search results of individuals and facebook news feeds, this algorithm that caters to the personal desires and interests of an individual, often offering news, articles, and advertisements that fit the individual. Created through past interest and data, this is creating a toxic culture where people are fed news that confirms bias; creating an echo chamber for any particular political side.

 

While the news being reported on is (for the most part) the same, the commentary, aim, and attitude are often very different depending on where the news is found.

 

Liberal news sources and conservative news sources may report the same story, but can spin it to appeal to their readership. So let’s take a look at how reporting of the NFL protests are covered by both sides.

 

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This issue is very controversial and both sides are unwavering in their beliefs on what this is about and what it means. This is being reported on, devisively used, and constantly reiterated (by both sides) to get more views and conversation about the subject. Although both sides do not see eye to eye.

 

Liberal news sites like Huffington Post try to appeal to an emotional trigger in their readers, this can be anyhting from DACA repeal, to healthcare reform. The wording used can shine a light on how the news leans as well.

 

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While the Huffington Post article used words like “pleading” in an attempt to appeal emotionally to the reader, fox news tries to use wording in titles to seem more rational and objective. This Fox news attitude differs from the likes of Huffington Post, Fox news seemingly more objective while Huffington Post is subjective.

 

Although there are common threads that cut through the filter bubbles, mainstream news outlets like The New York Times try to report on the news and offer commentary, but unlike the outlets that slant either way these articles aren’t trying to tell the reader what to believe. Instead reporting the news and allow people to digest it and form their own opinions on what the news was and what it means to them.

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Staying in comfortable bubbles of confirmation bias creates toxicity in our culture and forgoes healthy debate and critical thinking. Anyone is within seconds reach of supporting their own fragile world view and going to www.I’mfuckingright.com, without expanding their information of the other side. Creating HUUGE wall that only information junkfood can flow through. Forcing bubbles to come into conflict with each other, and sooner or later bubbles pop.

Factcheck #3: Reading Lateraly

Beginning as a counterbalance to the Republican Tea Party movement in 2012, Occupy Democrats has seen rise in daily exposure. Created by the Rivero brothers to offer a community and outlet for democratic voters to support progressive political candidates.

Unlike the right wing Tea Party, Occupy Democrats has not been able to create a congressional caucus like their right wing opposition. Despite this, Occupy Democrats has continued their pursuit to strengthen a community for democrats in hopes to ignite a movement toward progressive policies. To “start a national conversation.”

Although in an age dominated by social media, the average person would recognize their work by their memes, not posted articles.

While Occupy Democrats social media presence is strong, it would seem the reputability of their traditional reporting is fairly poor. According to Politifact, the reliability of Occupy Democrats leans toward “pants on fire”.

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Michael Caufield posits “Aim is defined by what the publication, author, or media source is attempting to accomplish. Aims are complex.”

The reliability of Occupy Democrats is also refuted by pew research Mediabiasfactcheck.com

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Categorizing Occupy Democrats as extreme left leaning. Even when all traditional reporting is untrustworthy and slanting left, the social media battle is highly contested.

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Battling against the likes of The Blaze and others with an obvious right wing slant, the success and notoriety of Occupy Democrats is focused squarely on winning the social media and cultural battle rather than reporting accurate news.

Factcheck #2: Keep It Simple Stupid.

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The events in Mexico City are saddening. The loss of life, property, and infrastructure are the unfortunate casualties of the natural cataclysm. While support and aid are flooding toward those affected, some media outlets are reporting inflated statistics and untrue statements that reflect poorly on the survivors of this event.

Never the most accurate source of information, The New York Post states that over have 1,000 perished due to the earthquake in Mexico City

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While a cursory google search proves otherwise. Multiple sources that are more reputable report that the death toll has reached over 200, but nowhere near 1,000. Quite the stretch of truth by the “reporters” of The New York Post.

Even though this source is one of the sketchier examples out there, I’m sure it had convinced a good amount of “readers” that saw this shared on social media. While using this source as a good example of going upstream on media outlets and reporting. Discovering through light research the validity or the falsity of an article or media outlets claim. Seriously, it took maybe 2 minutes to dispute the claim The New York Post was making. Not all incidences will be this way, but putting in a few minutes of time, effort, and thought into where news comes from is only going to benefit readers.

Sources and news are very abundant in the age we live in, but not all are created equal. Whether false claims or overt bias guide the reporting, it perpetuates the culture of “fake news”. Building critical thinking skills and skepticism toward news, reports, and even statistics create a very educated public that isn’t so easily fooled by clickbait. Over dramatization of actual newsworthy events, help readers stay aware of where news comes from. While expanding the trusted news networks of an individual can only help weed out the ever so prevalent “fake news” from clogging up everyone’s newsfeed.

Factcheck #1: Essential Oils

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I have an annoying cousin, that consistently peddles the ridiculous claim that essential oils are life saving miracles handed down from baby Jesus himself. I’m not sure how entrenched she is into the pyramid scheme, but it seems like every post about it tends to have an angle and sounds an awful lot like a sales pitch. She uses this garbage for everything. Headaches, stomach pain, cancer, Ebola, to take better shits or something. While I’m a natural skeptic and have trouble not rolling my eyes at the latest trends like this that catch on, I decided to actually take a look into the claims that essential oils are beneficial and help physical and mental woes.

After sifting through the mass of pseudoscience and mommy blogs championing essential oils as liquid gold (snake oil), I stumbled upon a Time article on essential oils and the benefits. In the article, it grants the benefits where they are due and that is mostly in helping ease anxiety. One of the few benefits the article and research cannot refute. Making the point that the claims of essential oils are “inconclusive at best”. Cementing that just because you rubbed some lavender-scented oil on your forehead doesn’t mean that it cured your headache, but it went away because you turned the lights down low and your kid stopped screaming about dino chicken nuggets. These claims are dumb and anyone with common sense wouldn’t say “I started using essential oils instead of my Xanax and I’m perfectly fine.” Despite the actual claims that they can relieve stress and anxiety.

I’m probably on a tangent now, but the facts behind essential oils and the “miracles” they produce are just as tenuous as the claims behind not immunizing children.