The Race to the Bottom of the News Barrel

What was the spark? A MAGA hat worn by mostly white male teens? Was this a clear case of stereotyping?

Stereotyping or Social Categorization is a cognitive process by which we put individuals into social groups and respond to them as members of a social group, instead of individuals. This can lead to negative interactions. For example, a young liberal might take issue with anyone they identify as a conservative Baby Boomer. Any number of people might be instantly offended by someone they perceive as a privileged white male. We live in angry times.

MAGA – Make America Great Again

Social Categorization is what happened in January 2019 when someone posted, on Twitter, a short video taken at the ‘March for Life’ event. The video was said to be proof that Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School Boys (some of them wore MAGA hats) had harassed a Native American and a group of Black Men at the Lincoln Memorial. The Native American, Nathan Phillips said he believed  “These young men were beastly, and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”

The video (sent out from a Twitter account that was later shut down by Twitter for fake and misleading registration) went viral. Prominent individuals and numerous news media picked up the story and ran it without verifying the accuracy. The teens were vilified. There were calls for the student’s expulsion from school; they were threatened with harm, and in a few cases, there were death threats.

Sober second thought came after a careful review of the many videos that were taken that day. These showed that the viral video did not accurately depict what had happened. It simply depicted the story that the video wanted people to believe – ‘privileged young white males’ are evil. The video clip didn’t show that the ‘Men Behaving Badly’, were the Black Hebrew Israelites who were yelling homophobic slurs and racist insults and the Native American who thrust himself at the students.

A significant number of personalities and members of the media, after looking at the full videos, retracted their stories, or apologized for what they had said about the boys.  Other people, however, would not correct their attack stories.

Enter Attorney Robert Barnes.

The threat of litigation has perhaps led to a few more apologies. ‘The Weekly’, (a news program on CBC  which is a Canadian Federal Government Crown Corporation) hosted by veteran reporter Wendy Mesley,  apologized and corrected their story, but not until March 10. They said they “regret characterizing those teens as ‘teenage bullies’” and corrected what they said was an erroneous statement.

Why would it take almost 2 months to issue an apology for running a story based on a viral video on Twitter? What does this say about investigative reporting? What does this say to the consumers and readers of just about all forms of media today?

What can you do to avoid jumping to biased conclusions?

  • Read a range of views from across the spectrum – right, left and middle.
  • Be skeptical about every story that tells you what your viewpoint should be.
  • Be willing to accept that people are not the same as the social categories you put them in.
  • Accept that opposing viewpoints might be just as valid as yours because they are likely based on bias too…

What is an example of a biased opinion you held until you read and understood the validity of a contradictory assessment?

Rethinking Nuclear Power

Here is an interesting story by Michael Schellenberger. He explains his transformation from being anti-Nuclear to pro-Nuclear energy generation.

Is nuclear power as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe?

How do the dangers of nuclear energy compare to the dangers of fossil fuel energy? A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that some 50,000-100,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer caused by particulate air pollution, the biggest cause of which is coal-burning power plants in the midwest and east. Even taking the maximum predicted death toll from Chernobyl, we would need a Chernobyl-sized accident every three weeks to make nuclear power as deadly as coal and oil already is.
Brian Dunning

Did you know that nuclear power could be one of the biggest, cleanest energy providers?

…we’ve been trying to do solar for a long time and yet we get less than a half of a percent of our electricity globally from solar, about two percent from wind, and the majority of our clean energy comes from nuclear and hydro.

And according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear produces four times less carbon emissions than solar does. That’s why they recommended in their recent report the more intensive use of renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage.

It’s time that those of us who appointed ourselves Earth’s guardians should take a second look at the science & start questioning the impacts of our actions Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we really going to stand by and let them destroy it?
– Michael Schellenberger –

Well of Lost Thoughts – 2018

When I find ideas that speak to me, but I’m not ready to blog about them, I save them on my Fueled by Chocolate ‘Well of Lost Thoughts’ Facebook Page. Here are just a few of the ones I have ‘rescued’ from there to share with you.

The Man Drawer

The Car Guy has more than just a Man Drawer – he has a whole Man Cave!

Tupperware is forever.

I had the square cake container and the lid finally cracked when it was about 25 years old. I contacted a Tupperware person and they got me a replacement lid – for free.

Tupperware® brand products were introduced in 1946. The first Tupperware Home Party was held in 1948. By 1951, the Tupperware Home parties were working so well that all products were taken off store shelves.

Tupperware advises that Vintage Tupperware (made before March 2010) is not BPA-free so should not be used for food prep or storage. It is, however, up to individuals to assess whether BPA is as big a health risk as the media made it out to be.

Health Canada’s Food Directorate continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children. This conclusion is consistent with those of other food regulatory agencies in other countries, including notably the United States, the European Union and Japan.
– Health Canada –

And What Are Plastics Made From? OIL!

Canada – 2018 was dominated by the Oil Pipeline Story. It continues in 2019 and the fall out could affect two elections this year. Alberta could turn their backs on the Left wing NDP party, while Canada may turf out the Left wing Liberals.

So to recap: Trudeau’s replacing the Minister who couldn’t get any pipelines built with the one who couldn’t get any infrastructure built, and replacing his former Trade Minister who couldn’t get any trade deals done with his former Natural Resources Minister who couldn’t get any pipelines built. That should make everything better, right??
– Conservative MP Blake Richards –

The issue is how to get Alberta’s Oil Sands product to market. Alberta wants to expand the capacity of existing pipelines and build new ones. They are not allowed to do this under today’s political climate. Until pipeline capacity is increased, oil is increasingly being transported by rail and truck, both of which are less environmentally friendly than a pipeline.

Environmentalists and activists, frequently funded by American money, have played a large role in blocking new pipelines. They have been highly effective in gathering public support and electing governments that support their anti-fossil fuel agendas. They live in a fantasy world…

Unfortunately, with two distinct functions in the economy, the misperception that more wind and solar (used for electricity) will displace oil (used for transport) feeds an ignorance that hinders sound energy policy.
– Jude Clemente, JTC Energy Research –

What would happen to the US today if the fossil fuel industry went on a strike of indefinite duration? What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want? Instead of nibbling around the edges, what if we just went all the way? What would be the consequences if Atlas shrugged?
What If Atlas Shrugged? By David Deming, February 7, 2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrapped up its $1.1 million cleanup of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camps on federal land in North Dakota, hauling away 835 dumpsters of remaining trash and debris. The site, once occupied by thousands of environmental demonstrators, is now vacant.
– The Washington Times –

Speaking of Fuel

One combine in the field behind our house last fall.

Last fall, 20 combines and drivers  joined forces to harvest Brian Williams’ crop of durum wheat near Milestone, Sask. Williams died right as harvest was getting underway.

The World Record – a total of 303 combines were working all at once in a field of winter wheat south of Winkler in Manitoba in 2018.  This event raisies money for Children’s Camps International (CCI) through its Harvest for Kids event.

I bought an ant farm. I don’t know where I am going to get a tractor that small!
– Steven Wright –

Every Day is Nude Day with Nudinits

Mike Rowe: “I’ve just been informed it’s National Selfie Day. Something to think about…”
David Vitti “It’s also international “Hike Naked Day.” It really bothers me that these two days coincide…”

About a Frog

A lonely frog, desperate for some form of company telephoned the Psychic Hotline to find out what his future held. His Personal Psychic Advisor told him, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”
The frog was thrilled and said, “This is great! Where will I meet her, at work, at a party?”
“No” says the psychic, “in a Biology class.”

Experiences from ‘The Good Old Days’

Question: Name a struggle you had growing up that kids today will never understand. – Matt Whitlock –
Answer: Fixing a typo involved pushing back your typewriter a character, inserting the white-out strip, re-typing the wrong character to place the white, removing the whiteout, pushing back the typewriter a character and typing the new character. You did this for each wrong character. – Blair King –

Literary Perspectives

When finding a new word, I tend to look it up before reading the rest of the written work to gain a full understanding. ‘Incel’ was such a word. After finding the definition in the urban dictionary, I couldn’t find the ambition to read the rest.
– Harold Sleeper –

Well to be perfectly honest, in my humble opinion, of course without offending anyone who thinks differently from my point of view, but also by looking into this matter in a different perspective and without being condemning of one’s view’s and by trying to make it objectified, and by considering each and every one’s valid opinion, I honestly believe that I completely forgot what I was going to say.
– Daniel Zimmerman –

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. For example:

Knowing well the hand signals of his platoon leader, Private James Dawson silently dropped to the dirt, concealed and motionless for what seemed an eternity, a move that he had learned, coincidentally, from his parents whenever the Watchtower ladies would ring the doorbell.
– Peter S. Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA –

Differing Opinions, Honest Conversations

Fannie Flagg’s book, ‘Standing in the Rainbow’, was published in 2002. One of the central characters is a politician who appealed to a similar electorate as President Trump did – people who felt powerless and voiceless.

One of her characters spoke for marginalized older white men when he said:

What bothered him and other men his age and older was that the things that they had been willing to die for were no longer appreciated. Everything he had believed in was now the butt of jokes made by a bunch of smarty-assed late night-TV so-called comedians making a salary you could support a small country with. All he heard was people saying how bad we were, how corrupt we had been, and how terrible white men were… He had never knowingly been mean or unfair to another human being in his life. Now it seems he was the oppressor, responsible for every bad thing that have ever happened in the history of the world.
– Fannie Flagg, Standing in the Rainbow –

While the postmodernist has valid points that sexism and racism are the causes of many disparities, does it mean  that the way to balance those disparities is by assigning a blanket blame on a large part of the population for the deeds of a few?

We should not be teaching our students the following lesson: “He called you a racist name. That victimizes you.” That lesson says, first, that you should judge your skin color to be significant to your identity and, secondly, that other people’s opinions about your skin color should be significant to you. Only if you accept both of those premises are you going to feel victimized by someone’s saying something about your skin color.
– Stephen Hicks –

It is election year in Canada. I hope voters will exercise decision-making power in an informed manner. The only way they can do so is if there is lots of discussion and vigorous debate between individuals who accept that the individual is not the group they have been assigned to.

In this video, Ben Shapiro interviews Dave Rubin. They discuss identity politics, online censorship and the value of open and honest conversation between individuals who have differing opinions.

Best Dr. Oz Interview Ever: Jordan Peterson

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the the bestseller book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. His books, lectures and videos are designed to advance the modern understanding of creativity, competence and personality.

This is a long interview, but it is an excellent introduction to the man and his ideas. Dr. Oz does an excellent job of conducting this interview.

When you have something to say, silence is a lie.
– Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos –

Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being. As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.
– Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos –

Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.
– Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos –

The Quippery