Before You Tell Me What You "Know"... Tell Me Your Sources

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

We can no longer trust data and conclusions being published as impartial by institutions that were once trustworthy.

When someone says they "know" what's happening on the ground in Syria, how can we assess the validity of their claim to knowledge, i.e. their claim to "know" "facts" or (gasp) "truth"?

When someone says they "know" the U.S. economy is growing and unemployment is at record lows, what is the basis of their claim to knowledge?

Before you tell me what you "know," tell me your sources. We all know how this works nowadays: the sources are rigged or gamed to support the pre-selected narrative.

In "fake news," the sources are designed to appear legitimate via official-sounding institutional titles for the source organizations and human "experts" / researchers, and the data that's presented to support the "fake news" is also designed to be indistinguishable from legitimate data.

The cursory consumer of such content will be inclined to grant the institution, source and data as equal in legitimacy to other accepted sources. For example, if we read that the United Nations Labor Information Council has collected data showing the U.S. unemployment rate is actually 7.2% rather than the official 3.9%, the invocation of the UN and the precision of the data point suggests a legitimate source and data base.

But it's "fake news;" there is no United Nations Labor Information Council (at least not to my knowledge).

Official sources have learned that the most effective way to propagate the sanctioned narratives is to rig or game the data and/or its interpretation. Thus the bailouts of the U.S. "too big to fail" financial institutions in 2008-09 were purposefully obscured; it took independent researchers to assemble all the bailout guarantees and publish the staggering total of over $16 trillion.

official data is massaged to promote the official narrative. This is well-known to anyone who digs into the actual mechanics of the adjustments made to the raw data. For example, to mask real-world inflation, big-ticket expenses such as healthcare are minimized as a percentage of the basket of expenses being measured, and hedonic adjustments reduce the sticker price we actually pay.

The unemployment rate of 3.9% is based on excluding 95 million working-age residents from the labor pool. Many of these people are indeed unavailable for work, but millions have been categorized as "discouraged" and thus are not counted as being in the work force.

In other words, the process of rigging and gaming "facts" to support a pre-determined narrative is identical for both "fake news" and "official news." When researchers compared electricity consumption in China with the official growth rate, a vast discrepancy appeared: electrical consumption, a reliable indicator of economic activity, lagged the official growth rate.

The official response was to stop reporting electrical consumption data or rig the numbers to match the official narrative.

Now that the loss of trust in official reporting of data is widespread (due to the obviousness of the rigging / gaming / manipulation), the institutions tasked with generating belief in the sanctioned narratives are accusing anyone questioning the officially sanctioned data or narratives of issuing "fake news."

The irony is thick enough to cut with a knife: as institutions gin up ever more dubious "evidence" that all is well with the status quo, the line between "official news" and "fake news" has effectively dissolved.

We are now being bombarded with engineered data from supposedly legitimate sources that's explicitly designed to support insider rackets or profiteering cartel. A prime example is medical/pharmaceutical research data, which is increasingly funded by self-serving corporations or institutions with the explicit goal of finding (or rigging) evidence supporting some claim of efficacy that is highly profitable to the owners of the medication/genetic material.

In other words, we can no longer trust data and conclusions being published as impartial by institutions that were once trustworthy as these institutions become politicized or funded by corporations whose sole goal is to maximize profits by any means available.

Much of this legerdemain is statistical and therefore difficult for laypersons to analyze or assess. Despite the educational industry's focus on STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math), relatively few citizens seem equipped to read the results of a pharmaceutical Stage III trial (human subject trials for the efficacy and risks of a new medication/treatment) or scientific paper that supports some overarching policy or a "headline number" such as GDP or unemployment.

The Corruption of Evidence Based Medicine? Killing for Profit (via John F.)

A skeptical reader naturally looks for weaknesses such as small sample size, wide margins of error, various assumptions made when eliminating data samples, and so on.

The general lack of interest and/or ability to make even a rudimentary critical assessment of the officially sanctioned evidence and narratives plays right into the hands of those engineering the evidence.

But the Internet is messing everything up by providing a universal forum for skeptics to publish critical assessments of officially sanctioned evidence. The spectrum of critics is wide, ranging from those promoting improbable theories backed by little substantiated evidence to those who have conducted rigorous critiques that interested parties can critique.

Such a forum requires a skeptical populace with critical-thinking skills and the willingness to ask cui bono--to whose benefit? As institutions are politicized and dissenters are marginalized and profit-maximizing organizations fund their own self-serving research, it falls to the citizenry to sort the wheat from the politicized. self-serving chaff.

The Corporate Media's Gulag of the Mind

Comments

TheWholeYearInn venga periquit… Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:40 Permalink

"Before You Tell Me What You "Know"... Tell Me Your Sources"

 

My sources are:

 

CNN

Snopes

AP

 

If that's not ironclad enough, we can ask AIPAC, Netanyahu, & Theresa May, & Zuckerberg for further verification (to be sure)...

 

Unless, of course, we're talking about GLOBAL WARMING... For that we need to go to Nobel Winning Laureate Al Gore (who keeps those facts under a 'lock box', at the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles guarded by a staff of crack FBI agents that Mueller specially appointed that just returned from their paid vacations at Mandalay Bay)...

In reply to by venga periquit…

swmnguy TheWholeYearInn Wed, 05/09/2018 - 17:58 Permalink

As is so infuriatingly typical for CHS, he gets so-o-o-o-o close and then pulls up and misses the heart of the matter.

It isn't the sources.  If you automatically distrust everything you hear from CNN or the UN you're going to be very misinformed.  If you automatically trust everything you hear from people whom you think share your viewpoint, you're going to be very misinformed.

Apparently I've been very fortunate.  I learned to read quite young, and my parents put just about everything in front of me to read.  At the time, the Vietnam War was raging, and my parents were very much opposed.  They put mainstream media accounts, alternative media accounts, foreign media accounts--of the same story--in front of me and asked me to compare and contrast.  I was 6 or 7 years old at the time but I caught on quickly.

None of this is new.  The internet makes it possible to swamp people with data, or with opinion, but it doesn't help with critical thinking or analysis.

if you see an employment statistic, look up how it is calculated.  That will tell you what you need to know.  The data are accurate.  it's just that to come up with the percentage, they don't count a large number of people you and I would consider to be "unemployed."

The Elites in America have never wanted Americans to be good at critical thinking.  If we were, we wouldn't have many people in the military and we wouldn't have been in any of the wars since at least WWII.  We wouldn't let the Finance sector run our healthcare system, and then bail it out over and over again when Finance, predictably, wrecks it by looting.

There was a joke in Soviet Russia.  A Western visitor spent some time with Soviet citizens.  He was amazed by how well-informed they were about things the Soviet government lied about; the economy, Afghanistan (little bit of irony for you all there); world affairs.  He asked, "Where do you get your information?"  His hosts said, "We read Pravda."  He responded, "But the government publishes Pravda.  It's full of lies."  "Of course," said his hosts, "But you have to know how to read Pravda."

Nothing new in the US.  I grew up knowing how to read the New York Times.  I know how to read this site.  I know how to read CNN, Huffington Post, Breitbart, RT, the BBC, and all the rest.  And I know the difference between fact and opinion, even when the opinion is dressed up as fact.  There are "tells."  We all know about the lawyerly weasel-words like "may," "appears," "nearly identical," etc.  We know about the "unidentified sources."

What's needed is absolutely not "Objective Reporting."  There is no such thing.  That's a myth created by the corporate owners of media, back when they started buying up and consolidating media in the '20s and '30s.

What we need is openly subjective media.  You can read the Communist paper (not that there is one in the US with circulation above 3 figures), the fascist paper, the corporate paper (meaning, almost everything in the US), the Black Power paper, the White Supremacist paper, a couple foreign papers; then you start to get an idea of what is actually going on.

It does take a little work and you may have to read some things that contradict your instincts.  But otherwise, you're not going to be informed.  Don't avoid biased sources.  Understand the bias, and read for fact and to separate out the bias.  The fact that Americans don't know how to think critically is what has led us to this pass.  The fact that Americans want to blame those who fool them for fooling them, rather than educating themselves on how to think, analyze and reason, is why things aren't going to get better until events take their course. 

In reply to by TheWholeYearInn

roddy6667 swmnguy Wed, 05/09/2018 - 22:10 Permalink

Such an emphasis on reading. Words are not reality. They are symbols that somebody claims represent reality somewhere else than where the reader is. They are ink on paper or electrons flying around a computer screen. Do not confuse them with the real world.

For example, people have opinions about North Korea. They believe that they know the reality that exists there, yet they have never been with 7000 miles of the country. They do not know anybody who lives there or who has lived or even visited there in the past. In spite of a total vacuum of facts or first hand knowledge, these "readers' have very strong and often emotionally charged opinions about North Korea. 

I was guilty of the same thing, and that is why I am writing this. I thought I knew a lot about China. I was married to a Chinese woman. I had spent time with some of her relatives when they came to America to visit us. I had studied a lot about the country due to my interest in the history and religions of the East. I was totally wrong.

In 2009 I visited China for the first time, choosing to spend time with my family there rather than doing the tourist stuff. I went food shopping, I rode the buses, I visited friends and relatives in their homes, I dined in restaurants and peoples' homes, and just plain walked around anywhere I wanted to. In just three days I realized that almost everything I believe that I "knew" about China was false. It was a product of the American media and other peoples' opinions. 

I was angry at myself and angry at the American media with their constant stream of hate and disinformation. I got suckered and so did most Americans.

Summary: If you believe that you know something because you "read it", you are quite likely wrong. Get a passport, get on a plane, find out for yourself. Don't be a puppet.

In reply to by swmnguy

el buitre Ignatius Wed, 05/09/2018 - 17:50 Permalink

The sources that people nostalgically remember as being trustworthy were terrible liars back then also.   Take "Uncle" Walter Cronkite for example and Vietnam.  The difference today appears to be that more people are pulling their heads out of their asses and thinking critically.  Official stories are no longer being accepted without reservation.  Speaking as a physics minor in college, the official story concerning 9/11 is so ridiculous it would drive me to tears of laughter if it weren't for the thousands of innocent deaths.  OTOH, polls indicated that even in 1965, most people didn't believe the official story of the JFK Deep State hit.  Of course it didn't make any difference whether they believed it or not.  The CIA prospered, Israel got its nukes, and we got the Vietnam War and fiat untied in any respect to gold.

But as people start to think more critically, the Cabal, which completely controls the corporate media, floods us with torrents of pigshit to try to compensate, using Goebbel's and Goering's advice, basically make it big, absurd and constant. Like the unemployment rate is 3.9% or Assad gases his own people, so we have to hit these same people with humanitarian cruise missiles.  That all makes a lot of sense.  ROFL.  

In reply to by Ignatius

Endgame Napoleon el buitre Wed, 05/09/2018 - 19:22 Permalink

In the past, I remember the news as being less baldly partisan and more authoritative, but maybe, it was due to my youth, inexperience in life and the fact that I watched C-SPAN more than regular news. The liberal newspaper, too, seemed more credible.

Even when I read the conservative side today, I still see the partisanship, and only some are making strong, logical, persuasive arguments for conservatism that take into account the way things are at ground-level in the economy or elsewhere.

Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan make compelling arguments for the right, but then, they were doing that 20 years ago. Even as a former leftist, I still saw that in those days. It just seems like there were more people of that caliber on both sides, making stronger arguments, not just gossiping and pitching it as news.

Economists are academic-grade experts on the economy. But, most of them, too, push a theory. Charles, Stockman and Prinn call out the official numbers, telling you exactly where they got the data and exactly why the BLS (or whatever institution) is wrong, but that is not typical. Or when most economists do it, they make their arguments indigestible for most readers due to the jargon. 

I am glad the internet liberates hardcore economists to present alternative views, challenging the economic gospel that the fake newspeople spread, mostly because their corporate employers demand that they fall in line with globalist neoliberalism.

In the past, an economist would have to get in with a president or a congressman to have impact on policy in any short timeframe, whereas it seems more possible for alternative approaches to reach the power centers due to the internet. 

Well, if our politicians were not so bought, paid for and mostly just interested in getting elected, it might be possible. Most of them listen only to economists who echo the views of their donors. And they only listen to ordinary people to a get a feel for what people are thinking and how that might affect their vote, not to effect change.

Even though ordinary people may not have the right phraseology, we see the gaps between what is actually happening in the economy and the fake numbers they spew out, month after month. It is good that the internet allows us to ask the questions, not just in an orchestrated Town Hall format.

In something like foreign policy, it is not that I believe the US government was behind 9/11. I do not. But, I do believe they could have stopped it. With all of the experts and the money they have behind them—more than ever before in history—they could have stopped it. 

They had evidence from military intelligence, the type of intelligence that helped us win major wars, like WWII. We did not need such fancy, all-intrusive intelligence to get the victory in WWII done.

The elaborate intelligence we have today is less effective, even though far more highly educated professionals get paid  more than the successful, WWII-era military intelligence officers to provide it. Military people also have a chain of command, leading back to the elected POTUS, that does not unhinge them so much from the electorate.

None of these ever-more-extensive spying agencies stopped 9/11 or the succession of mass murders by terrorists that were part of the prelude to the Trump victory. Nor did they stop the heinous terrorist acts against Americans abroad.

The intelligence agencies did all of that torturing, and it is true that it does not compare in heinouness to taking down a building and forcing thousands of office workers to choose between burning to death and jumping. Nor does water boarding compare in heinousness to beheading, not even close. 

But it does not work. And as with the economy, it is not just expertise as measured in degrees, credentials and salaries, but results, that count. Just because highly paid elites are never held responsible when things do not work, it does not mean that the non-expert and low-wage public does not notice.

The methods of the most educated and expert set of intelligence officers ever produced did not prevent multiple acts of terrorism on US soil and in Europe. The US has never had so many bonafide and highly paid experts, but so few of them are willing to admit what is right in front of the public’s face on sooo many issues, especially on the issue of welfare-aided, illegal immigration and its impact on underemployed Americans.

That is a big reason why most elites are just not as credible anymore in many cases. Those of us who are middle aged and older have been around long enough to see the gaps between what the experts say and what gets done.

That said, makeshift experts in the mainstream media are not credible, either, no more credible than most people. Many of them do not have better researched facts, stronger editorial arguments than the average Joe or superior credentials. A lot of newspapers have done away with most of the researchers, though, so that might be part of the problem. They are supposedly not making as much money. Newspapers in the past never paid much, but definitely had more staff.

 

In reply to by el buitre

sgt_doom 1981XLS Wed, 05/09/2018 - 18:35 Permalink

Outstanding article!!!  And should be relatively obvious, but since America is still composed of endless numbers of Ameritards, it is required reading!

Norm Solomon, whom I have long considered a lightweight, was in town (Seattle) not long ago and I finally heard him state that NPR was a propaganda conduit --- finally, although sometimes, enlightenment can be too little too late, as that Nixonian stooge, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman used to say!

I've been after NPR for years about a false story on Lee Oswald they aired during the 50th year after the JFK assassination (interview by Scott Simon on their Saturday morning show) but, like NPR frequently ends their unsourced "news" features, they couldn't be reached for comment!

In reply to by 1981XLS

Endgame Napoleon sgt_doom Wed, 05/09/2018 - 19:45 Permalink

NPR is mostly in the business of idealizing minority groups who, in the aggregate, are not even a minority in some age groups and are an overwhelming majority in many non-diverse, minority-majority workplaces.

The only credible way to promote minorities without being a Tammany Hall panderer or a virtue signaler is just to let the work of the truly excellent minorities speak for itself.

Thomas Sowell does not need anyone’s pandering. Neil deGrasse Tyson can even make a totally non-scientific person interested in his field. People like that do not talk 24/7 about being minorities since their interest in their subject matter is so deep. That IS quality. It needs no reinforcement from identity politics. 

In reply to by sgt_doom

ZENDOG Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:29 Permalink

My granpappy always told me....."never believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see, and you will be better off in this life".....

And he also said,,,,,,"Women will lie their ass off to get what they want".......

He was right.

I Am Jack's Ma… ZENDOG Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:45 Permalink

Comcast

Newscorp

Disney

Viacom

WB

CBS

 

1) The ADL says that the claim ‘Jews run the media’ is an antisemitic canard.  Canard means it is false.  Given that the US population is roughly 97% not Jewish (at a minimum) it should consequently be easy to show that most of these companies are not owned, managed, or disproportionately staffed by Jews, who again, are <3% of the population.   A number of commenters here are swift to condemn anti-Semitism, and I’d like to ask them to to ahead and fight irrational anti-semitic canards by showing that Jews do not signficantly own/operate these media beheamoths.

 

2) More broadly, if ‘social justice’ and ‘diversity’ concerns presuppose discussion of the ‘over-representation’ of ‘whites’ who are 60%^ of the population (down from about 88% before the 1965 immigration changes), and given that whites are nowhere 5, 10, or 15 times represented beyond population proportion...

please explain to me why it is ‘jew hate’ to note consistent, pervasive, and massive over-representation of Jews, and only Jews?  For example, the infamous 4chan cnn’s jewish staff meme...  immediately condemned.. NOT for being false or inaccurate..  but merely for noting massive Jewish over-representation (and note that massive over-rep. of *any* group would seem to invite discussion re bias of a news org)

 

Earnest questions.

 

edit:  this is a case where down voters are being especially asked to explicate their disdain.  If they can not, I submit that they simply wish to obfuscate, preserve, and protect wildly disproportionate Jewish power - and only Jewish power - making them ethnosupremacists... unless they can otherwise justify disliking a request to prove a ‘canard’ is a canard (why is that bad?) and to explain why slight ‘white’ over-rep is discussed to death and artificially ‘corrected for’ in the name of ‘diversity’ but smeared as ‘hate’ as to pervasive, and massive Jewish over-representation. 

Will no one even try?

 

If not, what does that mean as to the ‘antisemitism’ charge when trying to fully discuss media power and bias?

In reply to by ZENDOG

RumpleShitzkin I Am Jack's Ma… Wed, 05/09/2018 - 19:00 Permalink

It can’t be refuted.

Everything you wrote is absolute fact. Anti-semitism is a joke of a word and we have been infiltrated exactly EVERYWHERE it counts, completely. Media, Finance, Gov (fed,State,local) Education and every community and institution rotten to the core with this and utterly subverted. Enemy action. Occupation. Hostile take-over. All that and more.

Cultural destruction.

I’d wager 75% of those here, maybe more, detest the concept of ‘Patriot’. Detest the concept of Liberty and America.

 

Who taught you that? Who subverted your nation, captured it, used it as a puppet to the point where you hate your own fucking nation? 

Fuck that. Somewhere along the way, a lot of people dropped the ball and let this shit run rampant. Enough. Time to pick up the ball and play.

I don’t care where they go.

They can’t stay here.

In reply to by I Am Jack's Ma…

Brazen Heist Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:31 Permalink

Guilty until proven innocent.

Should be the new mantra the people hold towards government.

Spread the word.

I only have a few thousand years worth of historical evidence to back up my assertions.

swmnguy Brazen Heist Wed, 05/09/2018 - 18:05 Permalink

What's their job?  Intelligence Agencies collect information to support strategies.  If the strategies are fucked up, guess what?

Pollsters aren't going to get hired back if they provide data the people writing the checks don't want to see.  Credit rating agencies work for lenders.  Have you had your house appraised lately?  It's very interesting to see how appraisals and assessments seem to match, identically, the amount of money in a loan you've just been approved for.

How much does the car dealer think your car is worth as a trade-in?

Most Americans understand this concept.  The problem is they don't want to think critically, so in matters that don't affect them directly, or which align with their perceived interests, they just accept what they're told.  It's probably a fundamental human failing, but I live in America and mostly know Americans.

In reply to by Brazen Heist

Gnosis_Carmot Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:34 Permalink

If you ever venture on Reddit's r/politics subreddit they will say you are a stupid Drumpftard for daring to say a story quoting only anonymous, unnamed sources is to be treated with suspicion until it is corroborated by on the record people or other evidence.

 

They also believed the 'two scoops' story without question....

Gnosis_Carmot Wed, 05/09/2018 - 16:34 Permalink

If you ever venture on Reddit's r/politics subreddit they will say you are a stupid Drumpftard for daring to say a story quoting only anonymous, unnamed sources is to be treated with suspicion until it is corroborated by on the record people or other evidence.

 

They also believed the 'two scoops' story without question....