Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Posts Tagged ‘Bias’

And this is why people think Psychology is full of crap.

Posted by Lissa on February 3, 2011

[Disclaimer — I’m not saying that Psych *IS* a bulls*** science.  I know a certain person in Wisconsin who a) is smarter than me; b) writes papers and studies on Autism in which I rarely understand more than “the” and “and.”]

Last night brought the transcendent joy of the second Developmental Psychology class discussion.  I really want to do well in all my classes, so I’m doing the readings and taking good class notes and trying to find interest in the material.  Unfortunately, I keep getting sidetracked.  Why?

Because the book and my prof insist on teaching us how bad the United States is.

Chapters 2 and 3 were supposed to be on “biological and environmental foundations” and prenatal development.  Why, then, did we delve into the following highly educational tidbits?

  • It’s shameful how the elderly are treated in America.  In Japan, there’s a culture of reverence for the elderly.  It’s a disgrace that we don’t share it.
  • Also, China has playgrounds and parks specifically for the elderly.  We, on the other hand, have ten times their income but we won’t spend it on the elderly because we think they don’t matter. How sad!
  • Furthermore, Americans have these horrible stereotypes about the elderly, e.g. that they can’t drive.  The Prof doesn’t know how we formed such ageist, hurtful stereotypes, but lots of elderly people remain active their whole lives and such derogatory stereotypes just hurt them terribly.
    [I’m biting my tongue hard enough to bleed at this point.  It keeps me from raising my hand and asking, “Are you frickin’ SERIOUS? Those stereotypes exist because THE ELDERLY CAN’T DRIVE.  We’ve seen our grandparents lose their verbal acuity and their motor reflexes; it happens to some earlier and some later, but it happens to all of us eventually (if we live long enough).  That’s a fact. So now actual facts that most people have observed personally equals an AGEIST STEREOTYPE. Good grief.”]
  • Prenatal care is very important for the mother and for the fetus.  And yet somehow people are arguing against national health care.
    [Yes.  Yes they are.]

And my personal favorite?  This:

Because (the professor kindly explained) it’s important to know how big a problem it is in America, that so many of our elderly live in poverty, and that so many countries care for their aged population better than we do.

Now, y’all know I’m no statistician myself, but . . . . seriously? Because fewer Romanian elders live below the Romanian poverty line than in the United States, this is a terrible country?

That’s right, folks — it’s better to be elderly in Russia, Estonia and Slovenia than here.  Also, the Czech Republic takes better care of its elderly than does Austrailia, the UK or Switzerland.

And this nugget of wisdom is important enough to appear in CHAPTER TWO of our textbook.

*cue sound of Lissa’s head exploding*

Now, I’m not saying that a chart like that has no use.  I think a discussion of how the elderly are perceived in each country dependent on economic status relative to the national average — and the resulting social stature — could be very interesting.  Unfortunately, that’s not what the book was trying to teach me.

This may be a long semester.

P.S. Also?  Sorry, book, but when you blithely state that one-sixth of all couples who try to conceive discover that they are infertile and list absolutely no backup for that rather astonishing number, I will probably assume that you are talking out of the southernmost aperture of the gastrointestinal tract.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Newsweek sinks to another low.

Posted by Lissa on November 29, 2010

I was finishing up the weekly grocery shopping when this literally stopped me in my tracks:

Good grief.

Now, do I think the modern president has to deal with a lot of issues? Of course.  And some of them — like police incidents with Cambridge professors, NCAA brackets and threats to kick corporate ass — would be better left to someone else.  ANYONE else.

And yet? I know a lot of people who deal with a lot of issues and solve a lot of crap.  I admire those people hugely, but I’ve never managed to mistake them for deities.

Shall we play Looking Glass News for a moment?  Would you like to think of some alternate titles that might be used for an overworked George Bush?

“He Can’t Handle the Workload.”

“The President’s Not Up To The Job.”

“Bush’s $87 Billion Mess.” (That one’s real. You can find a partial listing of all Newsweek Bush covers here.)

“The Distracted President.”

“This Guy’s Ugly, He Smells and We Don’t Like Him.”

(Was that last one a bit much?  Maybe that was a bit much.)

Note to the editors:

You may want to zip up your fly; your bias is showing.


P.S. I’m disgracefully behind on all things internet, so I’m sure all the cool bloggers have already hit this up.  Meh — you gotta start somewhere 🙂

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

Hypocrisy, the MSM, and “neutral” storylines

Posted by Lissa on August 13, 2010

One of the things that started my transition to an Evil Conservative was the realization that the media was institutionally biased.  (Stop laughing, y’all!  I really didn’t know!)  As I’ve written before, I tried really hard to have a balanced viewpoint: I read the New York Times every day and articles from the Economist/Wall Street Journal/Al Jazeera every few days.  You know, for balance.  When I started realizing HOW biased they were, I was furious. I felt betrayed.  I felt ashamed and foolish – I’d been working so hard to stay current and informed, and all I’d been getting was one side of the story.

Ace has a bang-up post on how bias in the MSM works:

But consider the case of Sestack and Specter: The media will once again have its choice of two “neutral story lines” when that primary is resolved. It’s heads the Democrats win, tails the Republicans lose, as far as the media is concerned.

If Sestack wins, the media will in fact push the “neutral story line” they could have pushed, but chose not to, in Bennet’s case: That we’re retiring an old warhorse in favor of a fresh face and that proves that our system works.

On the other hand, if Specter wins, they’ll push the “neutral story line” that the Democrats, unlike Republicans, are welcoming of moderates. (And Specter, a moderate Republican turncoat now voting as a somewhat-less-moderate Democrat, is still pretty moderate.) So that story line does have something to it.

But we’ll have no stories about “overly-partisan and inflexibly ideological Democrats driving out a true moderate and fence-crosser” if Specter should lose — trust that. Instead we’ll have the other supposedly-neutral story line, the one that once again just happens to wind up praising Democrats.

And this is how media bias works 75% of the time. Most of the time, the media is selecting between several possible “rules,” many of which are arguably correct, but which are contradicted by nearly opposite rules, which are also arguably correct. The media never decides which rule is correct in the most cases; instead, they choose whichever “rule” benefits the Democrats this cycle.

Are we too interested in personal scandals which don’t really have much to do with a party’s governing philosophy? The answer is “No” if you mean Mark Foley or Mark Sanford; the answer is “Yes” if you mean Eric Massa or John Edwards.


Here’s how it works: When a Republican is caught in a sex scandal, his party affiliation is extremely relevant because the Republican Party stands broadly for family values and sexual restraint, so party affiliation is very relevant, as it shows hypocrisy, that is, it tends to undermine the public image of the party.

Is that true? Actually, standing alone, that is basically true! Standing alone, I could see that rule as defensible.

Now, what happens when a Republican is caught in a money scandal? Well, that’s not really hypocrisy, really, as Republicans have the reputation of being into dirty filthy money. But in that case — in the case of a money scandal — the media says noting the Republican’s affiliation is relevant because it reinforces widely-held public opinion about the party.

Do you see the brilliance of that? Of those two rules together? Republicans get hammered — not just personally, but the sins are attributed to the party as a whole — on sex scandals because sex scandals undermine the party’s public image, so noting the party is relevant; and money scandals also get attributed to the party as a whole, and party affiliation is very relevant there, too, because such scandals reinforce the party’s public image.

Heads the MFM wins, tails, the GOP loses.

So these two rules, taken together, mean that in 99.9% of all scandals, the party affiliation of the Republican is very relevant to the story, in the MFM’s eyes. That this is a scandal not just of a fallen man, but of a fallen party, which is tainted along with that man.

Now: Does the media use the same rules with Democrats?

Click over to find out.  (I’m sure you already know the answer, but the post is awesome so go click anyway.)

Borepatch has the nice companion piece featuring Time Magazine and the Gores:

Pistolero pretty well guts the PMRC’s (Parent’s Music Resource Center, the Gore’s institution set up to fight the scourge of “satanic” music) arguments, so I won’t comment on that other than to saw RTWT.

What I will comment on, however, is the curious lack of coverage from the same Dinosaur Media on this. It seems to be almost a clone of the Larry Craig scandal: some blue-nose, big-mouth politician makes a lot of noise about the threat to morality by issue X, and then turns around and does a 100% reversal on issue X.

It’s not even like the Clinton episode – after all, by the time Monica came around nobody thought for a minute that Bill was the sort of guy you let escort your daughter to the Prom. Bit [sic] Al and Tipper did a 180° turn when he ran for vice president, courting the Music Industry’s money.

How do you say “Vote ’em all out” to the media?


Was last night some kind of fun, or what?? That hour FLEW by.  Our gracious hostesses were Most Fabulous and Jay G was great company.  Me, I think I did okay — the only stated complaint was the worry that listening to me any longer would cause diabetes.  Oh, and apparently I have an accent, and it’s “a cute Northern accent” rather than a caffeine-mainlining Elmo accent.  I’ll take it!

Happy Friday, everyone!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Stereotypes and elitism

Posted by Lissa on July 16, 2010

These two posts by Borepatch and Jay G got me thinkin’ . . . (A dangerous pastime, I know . . .)  Only I’m going to approach it from the opposite end that Jay did. I could be wrong, but here’s what I think:

To most casual observers I come off as one of those “smart people”, one of those “elites.”  After all:

  • I went to a small, elite liberal arts college that often ranks in the top ten liberal arts colleges in America
  • I graduated said college cum laude, that is, with a 3.5
  • I attained said grade point average while doing very little homework (please note — I’m not proud of this.  It’s just a fact)
  • I’ve spent three weeks in London
  • I’ve sung in at least ten different languages
  • I’ve sung such fabulous works as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Faure’s Requiem, Brahams’ Ein deutsches Requiem, and the full Messiah (and poor Mike had to listen to the whole Messiah – he really, really loves me)
  • My reading tastes are notoriously eclectic. Books that I’ve read at least ten times include everything from Stranger in a Strange Land to The Hunt for Red October to Atlas Shrugged to Jane Eyre.
  • I can make conversation with anyone.  ANYONE
  • I can speak in a British accent.  (Or cockney.  I can sort of do Irish or Scottish, but not well.)
  • I’m verbally “quick on my feet” (yes, that mixed metaphor was on purpose. Because it amused me)
  • I use words like “engender”, “unsolicited”, “therein” and “verisimilitude” on a regular basis.  I used the latter three in the last post

And yet . . . and yet . . . the older I get, the less smart I think I am.  A few of the reasons I don’t fit/deserve the stereotype of “smart person”:

  • I am profoundly historically ignorant.  I kind of know who Galileo and Copernicus were; I haven’t the foggiest idea when they lived.  500 AD?  1500 AD?  Something like that?  Anything prior to the 20th century is up-for-grabs in my brain.
  • I am profoundly Biblically ignorant.  No, I don’t think we all need to read, let alone believe, the Bible.  It’s just embarrassing that I don’t know any of the saints except Peter.  In fact, any knowledge of the Bible I have comes from playing a Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (back in college).
  • That thing about the British accent?  Well, I didn’t mention my moronic habit of adopting whatever accent I’m hearing.  It can be a Southern drawl, a Canadian quip, a prairie twang — if I’m hearing it, I’m speaking it.  That’s really fun when there’s a gathering of Ye Olde Liberal Arts College alums in London — ever heard a woman use “big ol’ ” and “y’all” in a British accent?  Yeah, didn’t think so.
  • I never learned proper grammar. I couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it.  I’m only familiar with present participle and pluperfect because of my years in Spanish class.
  • I cannot for the life of me remember names or faces.  Unless I’ve spoken with you five times or more, please assume that I don’t remember your name.
  • I’ve never read War and Peace. Or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Or The Moonstone, The Grapes of Wrath, The Jungle, Great Expectations, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Freakonomics, The Wealth of Nations, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and a whole host of others.
  • I’ve never changed a tire in my life.
  • I can’t sew, knit or crochet worth a damn.
  • I mostly cook from recipes.
  • I never understood calculus.  I got an A in the class by memorizing the types of problems and the subsequent steps to solve them.  It never made a lick of sense to me.
  • Ditto for chemistry.
  • And — oh yeah! I own and shoot guns.

Folks who’ve met me, please feel free to pop up and disagree — but I do think I’m a quick, and witty, conversationalist.  I’m usually the one to fill awkward silences and invite quiet group members to speak.  A lot of folks assume that, therefore, I’m a very intelligent person.

Verbal acuity and actual knowledge/intelligence are NOT the same thing.

Since we’re being all literary and usin’ them thar five-dollar SAT words, I’ll cap this post off with a Jabberwocky meme from Evyl Robot, Jennifer, Sarah and Christina.  Here’s my contribution:

And as in uffish thought she stood,
The Goblin-wock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the front-door wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! NOT through-and-through
My lil’ Siguette went snicker-snack!
The four nine-mil’s quite turned its head
And put him on his back.

Callooh callay, y’all. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Search engine comparison

Posted by Lissa on June 1, 2010

In alphabetical order:

As Mike pointed out, Google’s is an improvement over last year, where they had only the yellow ribbon below the doodle.

It just seems to me that if Google could come up with a respectful logo for ANZAC Day — which they’ve managed to do since 2003 for both Australia and New Zealand — that they could wrack their pretty little heads and do a doodle for Memorial Day.

(I noted the same thing last Sept 11)

UPDATE: Tam and Thor link — thanks!  Tamalanche’s make my humble sitemeter so dizzy — that thing isn’t used to heights!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

And this is why the MSM sucks.

Posted by Lissa on May 6, 2010

A gentle reminder, lest you have forgotten:

This post notes that at first the “out liberals” (those not in the closet, like Matthews) first tried to blame the Times Square bomb on the “right-wing.”

Now that it’s known, as could easily have been guessed, to have been an Islamized immigrant, they have a new slam against the “right-wing” — that we will indulge in an orgy of racist retribution for the act.

That’s beautiful. They can’t lose. First we’re blamed for doing it in the first place. If that doesn’t pan out, there’s always Plan B — blame us for an overreaction to the event and claim that that overreaction is in fact worse than the crime that provoked it.

An overreaction, incidentally, that never actually comes. Even after 9/11, there were only three or four acts of documented anti-Muslim violence in the entire 300-million-strong country.

Plan A: The right did it.

Plan B: Okay, the right didn’t do it, per se, but now the right is going to go on a murderous racist crime-spree in reaction to it.

Every time. Ev-er-y time.

Oh, and Mayor Bloomberg?  Blow it out your ass.

“If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything,” he said.


That being said —

Of course, whackjob murderers are whackjob murderers, no matter which God they claim to worship.  Scott Roeder appears to be Christian, as do the Hutaree fruitcakes.

So let’s compromise.  I will refrain from assuming the perpetrator of any new terrorist incident is a Muslim; you, MSM, will stop assuming it was those nasty right-wing tea-baggers.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Was The Economist always this left-leaning?

Posted by Lissa on November 11, 2009

I used to read the Economist much more diligently than I do today.  Back in college, it was in my mind the “right-leaning” publication I read to keep balanced.  Later on, it was the business-centric publication that I read to keep an eye on foreign affairs.  I let my interest lapse and I haven’t regularly read the magazine (or “newspaper” as they call it) for a few years.

Until this weekend.  I was on the train to my choir dress rehearsal when I realized I’d left my Kindle at home.  (AAUUGGGHHH!  Nightmares!!)  Peeved, but resigned, I stopped by CVS to buy an Economist for rehearsal downtime and the train ride back.

As I read, I was at first amused, then surprised, then astonished by the continuous leftward slant.  The first two sections yielded gems such as:

– “What’s more, the parts of the world where populations are growing fastest are also those most vulnerable to climate change, and a rising population will exacerbate the consequences of global warming — water shortages, mass migration, declining food yields.”

– “Only Chinese-style coercion would bring [population growth] down much below [8.5 billion]; and forcing poor people to have fewer children than they want because the rich consume too many of the world’s resources would be immoral.”

– “Falling fertility may be making poor people’s lives better, but it cannot save the Earth.  That lies in our own hands.”

– “One of the aims of imprisonment is to give miscreants a shove in the right direction, through job-training, Jesus or whatever does the trick.  Allowing prisoners to vote will not magically reconnect them with society, but it will probably do more good than excluding them.”

– “Serving prisoners are not numerous enough to swing many elections.  But once a government uses disenfranchisement as a sanction, it is tempted to take things further.  Consider those American states where the suspension of prisoners’ votes has morphed into a lifelong ban; in Republican-controlled Florida, for instance, nearly a third of black men cannot vote — enough to have swung the 2000 presidential election.”

– (in envisioning a poor farmer industrializing and moving towards greater wealth/lower fertility) “Now imagine you are a bit richer.  You may have moved to a town, or your village may have grown.  Schools, markets and factories are within reach.  And suddenly, the incentives change. [snip] Perhaps the state provides a pension and you no longer need children to look after you.  And perhaps your wife is no longer willing to bear endless offspring.”  (Really?  The only way to have retirement wealth is to be pensioned off by the state?  And the only reason you have fewer children is because your wife finally put her foot down and stopped popping them out?)

“The bad news is that the girls who will give birth to the coming, larger generations have already been born.  The good news is that they will want far fewer children than their mothers or grandmothers did.”  (Thanks.  Thanks so much.)

– “Japan and southern Europe have clung to older ways, discouraging women from working and frowning on single-parent families; there, fertility has stayed low, presumably because women resist what they see as unwelcome social pressure by having fewer children.”  (That is quite a presumption.  Me, I’d assume that having one working parent versus two working parents encourage fewer children because you’re got fewer people earning money to support them.  No, they never provide any sort of reasoning or backup for their statement.)

So what gives, folks?  I used to think The Economist was perfectly middle-of-the-road.  Now, to my eyes, it has a conspicuously leftward slant.

I know that in England even the Right leans Left.  But has this slant increased in the last few years?  Or is it just that I’m looking with new eyes?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

Thoughts on “hate crimes”

Posted by Lissa on November 3, 2009

“Hate crimes” —  yet another area where I’ve changed my opinion as a result of migration to The Dark Side.

Ten years ago I was in favor of hate crime legislation.  My young, dewy-eyed self earnestly wished to protect “victimized” groups such as gays, bisexuals, people of color, etc.  I thought that members of such a group were endangered simply by who they were, and therefore deserved an extra measure of protection from a society that had failed them.

As you can tell, I see things differently now.  I think that hate crimes legislation creates favored groups, the members of which are placed above the ordinary members of society.  Why is it worse to sucker-punch a black man than to sucker-punch a white man?  Why is it more evil to rape a lesbian than a heterosexual woman?

Why is more evil to beat up a fat woman than to beat up a skinny woman?

Tell me how, exactly, the victim was “discriminated against” for being fat.  Some poor excuse for a woman beat up Marsha Coupe while screaming “Fattie.”  True, I didn’t see that the perp was arrested and charged, but do you really think that has anything to do with Ms. Coupe’s size?  Or do you think there’s a rampant culture of thuggery in which bullies do not get punished?  (Or at least, they rarely get punished, and then whine about it.)

Furthermore, how does one tell if the perpetrator did so with “hate” in his/her heart, foremost?  What if she did it out of rage?  Out of depression?  Out of greed, or lust?  Out of laziness in selecting what looked like an easy victim?  Would it be less of a crime if the perp screamed “Gimme your wallet!” while beating Ms. Coupe?

True, we do try to divine intent when a crime is committed, but that is to differentiate between accidental and non-accidental incidents.  A woman who accidentally hits her neighbor with a car is very different from a woman who has studied the neighbor’s habits, has a schedule of his entry and exit from work, and who trailed him for three blocks before making contact.

So there are my thoughts on my subject.  It boils down to this:

Why is my life and person less worthy of protection than someone with darker skin or a different sexual orientation?

(Breda had similar thoughts)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

You people suck.

Posted by Lissa on August 20, 2009

Bias?  What bias?

In a nutshell — they carefully zoomed in on the AR-15 so that you couldn’t see any (black) skin of the owner, then complained about white racists packing heat.  Sweet!

(h/t Hot Air)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

I guess not everyone likes Michelle as much as I do

Posted by Lissa on March 20, 2009

I peeled my hard-boiled egg, sprinkled a paper towel with garlic powder and salt for dipping and clicked on Michelle’s website for my normal breakfast-at-my-desk browsing.

Only to see this:


Aw, drat!  They’re finally taking away all of our political blog access!

Hmmmm.  ALL of it?





As Mike commented, “But those are moderate, legitimate news sources!”


P.S.  Four hours later Michelle is up and running.  I wonder what happened?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 1 Comment »