Sunday, April 9, 2017

Discourse analysis of the news

I’m paying closer attention to news stories these days. I like to see how many examples of fake news and deceptive claims I can spot …I’m weird that way. I know that just because a story sounds sensational … doesn’t mean it’s a widespread pandemic. A picture of protestors at a local college doesn’t make it a campus-wide event. A group of cheering supporters at a political rally doesn’t represent everyone in attendance. I call this a ‘slice-of-pie’ sort of misrepresentation. It’s not necessarily the fault of the reporter …it’s just the nature of news. It’s not always a view from 35,000 feet.
 I’m also seeing where events are reported in a sequence that’s different from the way they actually occurred …and how it affects my interpretation of things. One thing after another is easily mistaken for one thing caused the other.
I’m also clearer on the difference between ‘speculation’ and ‘data-based accounts’. I know it takes a sufficient number of cases to turn a speculative claim into a credible account. It’s the difference between Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying “…legalizing marijuana will lead to something like the opioid epidemic” and the New England Journal of Medicine reporting “a study of 2,500 users shows that marijuana does not have the same addictive properties as opioids.” I guess it depends on your perspective, and, from what I’ve seen, pre-conceived notions about marijuana can beat out data-based reports almost any day of the week.