Journalism And "False Equivalence" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following argument.

Vaccines are safe and effective. The science supporting the U.S. vaccine schedule is absolute and indisputable. Anything that journalists produce that is critical of all or part of this schedule needs to be censored or not allowed to be published because to publish it would be an act of false equivalence.

This is a common argument. If I have misrepresented it in any way, please suggest ways to revise it.

What are your views on this argument?
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#2 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 04:16 PM
 
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Very false
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#3 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 04:28 PM
 
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I do not agree that vaccine-critical arguments need to be "censored".  I think media should be free to publish whatever the publisher deems newsworthy.  I do believe that there isn't an inherent right to have all minority viewpoints represented in every article.  That belief is not limited to vaccines:  I don't think that an article about farmers' markets needs to include the dangers of food prepared for sale in home kitchens, even though that is a legitimate concern.


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#4 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 07:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post

I do not agree that vaccine-critical arguments need to be "censored".  I think media should be free to publish whatever the publisher deems newsworthy.  I do believe that there isn't an inherent right to have all minority viewpoints represented in every article.  That belief is not limited to vaccines:  I don't think that an article about farmers' markets needs to include the dangers of food prepared for sale in home kitchens, even though that is a legitimate concern.

If there were a raging controversy over the safety of home-prepared foods for sale, and if it were mandatory to purchase and eat those same foods in order to attend daycare, attend school, attend summer camp, to work at the most popular jobs, and to be allowed to take your child to your local pediatrician for medical care, then that would actually be a valid comparison.
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#5 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 07:34 PM
 
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I'm not going to argue about schools and jobs and doctors in this thread about journalism.  My point still stands.  It is not censorship if a publication considers that a certain point of view is weak enough that it does not warrant representation.  You may not like it, and I may not like it if it's "my side" that's not included, but it's a far cry from censorship.

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#6 of 73 Old 05-24-2014, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Chickabiddy, I think I read your post differently than Taxi did. I hear you basically saying that there shouldn't be repercussions if journalists report risks and danger, but they don't need to do so for everything. Did I get that right?

Because I've stated ad nauseum that vaccines aren't a black and white issue, I am naturally against the latest attempts at gagging any criticisms of the vaccine schedule Most "journalism" pieces on this issue anymore resemble PR fluff pieces for health departments and are an insult to my intelligence. I'm left to wonder who gets to be the gatekeeper for what kind of information is "allowed." As just one example, the evidence-based case against mass, routine influenza vaccination is a serious chink in the armor for the all-or-nothing vaccine promoters. But we don't get to hear about it in most of those preachy get-your-flu-shot pieces.
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#7 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 06:28 AM
 
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I'm not going to argue about schools and jobs and doctors in this thread about journalism.  My point still stands.  It is not censorship if a publication considers that a certain point of view is weak enough that it does not warrant representation.  You may not like it, and I may not like it if it's "my side" that's not included, but it's a far cry from censorship.

It is problematic if a publication does not focus on issues in response to pressure from outside forces.  That *is* getting close to censhorship.

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#8 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 06:34 AM
 
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 It is not censorship if a publication considers that a certain point of view is weak enough that it does not warrant representation.  

Also…who are they to decide?  They are not health care professionals, nor are they parents of the kids making vaccine choices.  

 

It seems best to put out solid information and let the public judge and decide upon it.  

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#9 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 06:39 AM
 
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Journalist code of ethics.  There might be some useful stuff here:

 

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

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#10 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 07:42 AM
 
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Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information.[1] Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence.  n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism

 

My bold.

 

If the mandate of a publication is to never present any information critical of the vaccine program (or any other issue) then that does not qualify as journalism in the traditional sense.  That is reporting or brand journalism where marketing is the intent.

 

I do think that they should have to be transparent about it though with a notice on each article that it is their policy not to provide any information that is contrary.

 

I'm reminded of an episode of Girls I recently saw where Hannah is writing an advertorial for an osteoporosis drug where the celebrity she is interviewing doesn't even have osteoporosis.  It's quite funny because they are just making up everything from how long she has been taking the meds to the type of dog she was walking when she hurt her ankle which caused her to get a bone scan.  None of which happened.

 

Basically that's what these publications will be... a collection of advertorials. And as their readership clues on and stops looking to them as a source for real information, they will have no one to blame but themselves for their quickened demise.   

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#11 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 08:13 AM
 
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^^ samaxtics, and that scenario is not far from the truth. Back in the day, I was involved in the promotion of a osteoporosis drug which utilized a well-known local politician (not in the US) who did not have the condition.

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#12 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:21 AM
 
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I'm not really going to participate in this thread,  but I think this article does a good job of explaining it. 

 

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/25-3

 

"Journalists should always exhibit a bias towards objectivity. Being objective -- dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings -- is always the goal. The trouble comes when objectivity is confused with neutrality.

 

It is fine to be partial, indeed it is imperative if, after a careful examination of the facts, one concludes that the truth lies on one side of the argument. This is being objective. Examining the facts on their merits and presenting the truth is a journalist’s job.

 

The truth does not always lie in the center. In fact, it rarely does.

 

A journalist’s job is to report the truth, not to neutrally report what both sides say and stake out a safe position in the middle. " 

 

And yes, this is not the kind of discussion that really has a chance of going anywhere productive as the non vax members are of course going to argue that their side is the "truth," even though scientifically it isn't.  There is no medical or scientific debate about vaccines among immunology/epidemiology experts.  They are extraordinarily safe and effective and have saved millions of lives. 

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#13 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:26 AM
 
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I saw this infographic and thought I would share:

 

http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/evidencenetwork/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/abfinalhigh-resolution_Jun12.jpg


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#14 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:27 AM
 
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I'm not really going to participate in this thread,  

A more sincere way of not participating in a thread is not to participate in it.

 

Otherwise it is dropping off your opinion with the caveat that you won't be addressing any challenges to it; somewhat like a hit and run.

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#15 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:32 AM
 
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A more sincere way of not participating in a thread is not to participate in it.

 

Otherwise it is dropping off your opinion with the caveat that you won't be addressing any challenges to it; somewhat like a hit and run.

 

No, I linked an article I thought made some good points.  

 

I said there is no way the discussion can be productive because we aren't ever going to agree on which side represents the "truth". 

 

For example, a part you quoted in a previous response stated "Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truthdisclosure, and editorial independence." 

 

That vaccines are extremely safe and effective and don't cause autism is the truth. 

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#16 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:33 AM
 
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And yes, this is not the kind of discussion that really has a chance of going anywhere productive as the non vax members are of course going to argue that their side is the "truth," even though scientifically it isn't.  There is no medical or scientific debate about vaccines among immunology/epidemiology experts.  They are extraordinarily safe and effective and have saved millions of lives. 

Tea, I know very little about global warming.  I know as much (maybe a tad more) than your average layperson.  I have no stake in a gloabal warming fight.

 

That being said, I would be annoyed to learn that journalists refused to cover both sides of the global warming issue - because they had decided one side was stronger.  It does reek of censorship, or having some sort of god-complex, or at a minimum not doing their job as journalists, based on Samaxtics wiki post:

 

"Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination andanalysis of news and other information.[1] Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truthdisclosure, and editorial independence"

 

Say what the scientific consensus is if you like - but also say that some people disagree for what reason, and do it in a respectful manner.   

 

As an aside, promoting one-sided journalism has a serious downside that pro-vaxxers should consider.  Many vaccine decision do come down to trust.  If your doctor pushes the flu vaccines, for example, and the media paints it as all rosy…what do you think is goping to happen when you stumble across something that shows it is about only about 50% effective?  Their trust will erode slightly - and the more this happens the more trust erodes.  This is the information age - trying to hide info is NOT going to work.  

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#17 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:45 AM
 
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Tea, I know very little about global warming.  I know as much (maybe a tad more) than your average layperson.  I have no stake in a gloabal warming fight.

 

That being said, I would be annoyed to learn that journalists refused to cover both sides of the global warming issue - because they had decided one side was stronger.  It does reek of censorship, or having some sort of god-complex, or at a minimum not doing their job as journalists, based on Samaxtics wiki post:

 

"Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination andanalysis of news and other information.[1] Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truthdisclosure, and editorial independence"

 

Say what the scientific consensus is if you like - but also say that some people disagree for what reason, and do it in a respectful manner.   

 

As an aside, promoting one-sided journalism has a serious downside that pro-vaxxers should consider.  Many vaccine decision do come down to trust.  If your doctor pushes the flu vaccines, for example, and the media paints it as all rosy…what do you think is goping to happen when you stumble across something that shows it is about only about 50% effective?  Their trust will erode slightly - and the more this happens the more trust erodes.  This is the information age - trying to hide info is NOT going to work.  

 

Would you be annoyed with journalists not getting the opinion of a member of the flat earth society on an article about circumventing the globe for balance? Or would you be annoyed with a journalist who, while reporting on a new archaeological dinosaur find, didn't also get the opinion from a pastor about the theory that dinosaurs never actually existed and the earth is really only a few thousand years old? 

 

My position is that they can if they want to, but it's certainly not required and not doing so is not "censorship".  

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#18 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:51 AM
 
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My position is that they can if they want to, but it's certainly not required and not doing so is not "censorship".  

My position is that not investiagting most sides (not necessarily all - articles are not encyclopedias) of issues that impact people is poor journalism.

 

Legally, most media is privately owned.  I suspect they can report and not report what they want to, although as professionals they should uphold the code of ethics (which they get bashed soundly for when they do…Katie Couric).

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#19 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 10:51 AM
 
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No, I linked an article I thought made some good points.  

 

I said there is no way the discussion can be productive because we aren't ever going to agree on which side represents the "truth". 

 

For example, a part you quoted in a previous response stated "Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truthdisclosure, and editorial independence." 

 

That vaccines are extremely safe and effective and don't cause autism is the truth. 

You started your post with this intention

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I'm not really going to participate in this thread,  

 

So is it surprising that you would advocate for a system that will not report on anything that challenges it?

 

Do you believe Teacozy, that everything that needs to be known about our immune system and how it relates to our neurological development is known?

 

If not, then the "truth" as presented by those who profit from that "truth" is open to challenge.

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#20 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 12:53 PM
 
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I'm not really going to participate in this thread
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that vaccines are extremely safe and effective and don't cause autism is the truth.

Well, I'm not sure what to believe, teacozy, since you said you weren't participating in this thread, and now you've posted several argumentative posts, but you may be surprised to learn that the US Government HAS conceded that the MMR did in fact cause Ryan Mojabi's encephalitis, which manifested as neuroimmunologically mediated dysfunctions in the form of asthma and autism.
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#21 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 01:30 PM
 
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As always, a finding in vaccine court is not medical proof that the vaccine caused the disability.  It is legal proof that a vaccine was administered in a certain time period before a disability developed.


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#22 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 01:51 PM
 
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As always, a finding in vaccine court is not medical proof that the vaccine caused the disability.  It is legal proof that a vaccine was administered in a certain time period before a disability developed.

So the government acknowledgement is an acknowledgement of timing not one of plausible mechanism?  They don't rely on any medical knowledge/opinion at all?  Just time keepers? :wink

 

This is from the court documents of Hannah Poling's case:

 

Quote:
 Medical personnel at the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) have reviewed the facts of this case, as presented by the petition, medical records, and affidavits. After a thorough review, DVIC has concluded that compensation is appropriate in this case.
 

my bold.

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#23 of 73 Old 05-25-2014, 02:08 PM
 
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Oops, I also forgot to add that the government first denied but then conceded that Hannah's seizures were linked to her vaccines.

 

From the same link above:

Quote:
 By the way, it''s worth noting that her seizures did not begin until six years after the date of vaccination, yet the government acknowledges they were, indeed, linked to the immunizations of July, 2000

my bold.

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#24 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 04:19 AM
 
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I'll join... 

 

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Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

Tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following argument.

Vaccines are safe and effective. The science supporting the U.S. vaccine schedule is absolute and indisputable. Anything that journalists produce that is critical of all or part of this schedule needs to be censored or not allowed to be published because to publish it would be an act of false equivalence.

This is a common argument. If I have misrepresented it in any way, please suggest ways to revise it.

What are your views on this argument?

 

I think you may be misrepresenting it slightly.  I feel like the false equivalence thing that we (we as in people who talk about this issue in the news) are talking about isn't about censorship. It's about not being pressured by interest groups to publish information that is not relevant to the issue. 

 

I disagree with KM about her point on the opposing view of global warming. Just as I would disagree on something like teaching intelligent design in science class. It may well be that there is a story in global warming denial -- or the politics of taking a side on this issue. But, a story about the environment does not need the opposing view that some people think global warming is bunk. 

 

That said, my take on media and the vaccine issue is that there really does seem to be an editorial leaning that is hostile to the choice to not vaccinate. I'm surprised that no one here has ever mentioned Kevin Drum. He writes a column for Mother Jones and he really vents about non-vax in a way that is just so snarky and really doesn't feel like journalism. It feels more like someone who has been reading a lot of skeptic sites and has formed a general opinion about people who don't vaccinate and wants to vent. 

 

THIS is something that I think maybe does need some balance from Mother Jones. It's not an article about health issues. It's not something that can be well evaluated for objectivity -- because it's not objective in the first place. 

 

NPR, however, had two really good pieces in the last couple of months that related to the vaccination question. One was a really thorough piece on the relationship between the Taliban and their objection to vaccination and the CIA using vaccinations to gain access to Osama bin Laden.  It was REALLY interesting. Right this second I can't remember what the other one was about but both of these publications talked about broad issues. I would not have liked to see NPR feel pressured to offer some other "side" to their story just for the sake of it.   

 

I would say that good journalism does not make us yearn for equivalence. It should feel whole, and relatively unbiased. Tall order today, I know... 

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#25 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 04:27 AM
 
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Because I've stated ad nauseum that vaccines aren't a black and white issue, I am naturally against the latest attempts at gagging any criticisms of the vaccine schedule Most "journalism" pieces on this issue anymore resemble PR fluff pieces for health departments and are an insult to my intelligence. I'm left to wonder who gets to be the gatekeeper for what kind of information is "allowed." As just one example, the evidence-based case against mass, routine influenza vaccination is a serious chink in the armor for the all-or-nothing vaccine promoters. But we don't get to hear about it in most of those preachy get-your-flu-shot pieces.

Agreed. I think that if you/we are reading a piece of journalism that is super fluffy, it is natural to feel like we want some solution to that.  I lean more towards pressure to have a better article in the first place, though, than have two separate articles for balance, yk?  

 

In general I think our quality of news from mainstream sources just stinks. Although I don't tend to read from those sources, I don't doubt for a second that there are some just terribly fluffy articles. 


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#26 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 04:50 AM
 
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Right this second I can't remember what the other one was about but both of these publications talked about broad issues. 

I just remembered. It was a piece about think-tanks. They touched on research and funding.  Interesting stuff because they were talking about the issue - but removed from a debate. It was the "follow the money" discussion but from a dispassionate perspective. 


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#27 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 12:03 PM
 
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I think the issue isn't what makes for a good read, but more that a group has the audacity to try and dictate content.  

 

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I would say that good journalism does not make us yearn for equivalence. It should feel whole, and relatively unbiased. Tall order today, I know... 

 

Hmmmm…yes and no.

 

I think an individual piece can cover something from xyz perspective and that is fine but the magazine or newspaper article as a whole and over time needs to reflect alternate voices on the same issue (and wise voices from both side - not wise from one and crapola from another) because if they don't then they are biased which makes them less useful.  

 

Entities such as Slate, Forbes and MJ have repeatedly printed only pro-vax pieces.  I definitely consider them sufficiently biased that I rarely read them.  I don't trust them to be fair on the vaccine issue, nor do I trust them to report anything that doesn't fit in the with pattern they have established.   Sometimes there is even spill-over on issues.  I used to read (and still do - but I do not seek it out as much) the print version of Discover magazine.  Turns out Discover Magazine also host a website that is pretty non-vax unfriendly.  The one side reporting and  the hyperbole have made me question if Discover Magazine is getting it wrong on others things, too…and if perhaps they should not be trusted for comprehensive issue exploration.  

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#28 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 04:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I think the issue isn't what makes for a good read, but more that a group has the audacity to try and dictate content.  

I think you are talking about my last post where I mentioned the think-tank piece. What was interesting is that they were talking about how studies were funding (and they specifically brought up pharmaceutical studies. When this stuff is talked about within the context of a debate, is is harder, IMO, to step back and get deep into the broad question. They also brought up that quote that so many people love "everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts", which I get the feeling is a septic mantra. But these think-tank folks were talking about what happens when people are going off fact and still coming to a different conclusion. Interesting, I thought anyway.   

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
 

I think an individual piece can cover something from xyz perspective and that is fine but the magazine or newspaper article as a whole and over time needs to reflect alternate voices on the same issue (and wise voices from both side - not wise from one and crapola from another) because if they don't then they are biased which makes them less useful.  

First, I suppose I should say that I'm not a skeptic. Alternative ideas resonate with me. I happen to agree with a lot of them and even the ones I don't agree with have merit, IMO, in expanding ideas. But, I don't really agree with the statement above.  The reason is that I think the "alternative voice" needs to be newsworthy in its own right. Maybe I can't get out of the political way of thinking of the question of the "false equivalent". I think it is because of America's two party system that in politics we tend to give in to this idea that each side should have their fair say on a idea. A neutral example would be the voter ID laws of the last decade.  It is wrong to say that the concerns over  "voter fraud" is equal to the concerns to access to the polls for all Americans. (of course this would depend on your political views, I suppose)

 

BUT, that does not mean that I don't think that biased news gets a pass -- it doesn't. Papers shouldn't be printing pro-vax articles. They should be reporting on health care issues.  


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#29 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 05:32 PM
 
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I decided to do a bit of googling on false-equivalence, and i thought this (cherry picked :treehugger) quote was interesting:

 

"Somewhere along the line, partisans started conflating false equivalence with any thought that challenges their rigid, absolutist points of view. In politics and in everyday life, rarely are both sides equally wrong. Rarer still is one side 100 percent right. In this era of zero-sum gain politics, the logical fallacy more pronounced than false equivalence is false purity. It is intellectually dishonest."

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/a-bountiful-harvest-of-false-equivalence-analyses/280452/


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#30 of 73 Old 05-26-2014, 05:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
 

First, I suppose I should say that I'm not a skeptic. Alternative ideas resonate with me. I happen to agree with a lot of them and even the ones I don't agree with have merit, IMO, in expanding ideas. But, I don't really agree with the statement above.  The reason is that I think the "alternative voice" needs to be newsworthy in its own right. Maybe I can't get out of the political way of thinking of the question of the "false equivalent". I think it is because of America's two party system that in politics we tend to give in to this idea that each side should have their fair say on a idea. A neutral example would be the voter ID laws of the last decade.  It is wrong to say that the concerns over  "voter fraud" is equal to the concerns to access to the polls for all Americans. (of course this would depend on your political views, I suppose)

 

BUT, that does not mean that I don't think that biased news gets a pass -- it doesn't. Papers shouldn't be printing pro-vax articles. They should be reporting on health care issues.  

 

But...that's all they print concerning vaccination--pro-vax articles. 

Basically, they print LIES.  They say that vaccines have no risk.   They say that any and all disease outbreaks are the fault of the unvaccinated.  They say that the flu shot is extremely effective. They also say, even in states that have philosophical exemptions, that children will not be allowed to go to school unless they are completely caught up on vaccines--no mention of exemptions.  

 

So, if they are printing lies, isn't the "false equivalence" the opposite of how it's being presented?

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