Home Issues Book Reviews Blog Resources Contact Us

Unbalanced Economy | School Reform | Health Care Reform | Prison Reform |Built in Bias |



puppet stringOur democracy depends on a well-informed citizenry.  It is in danger because we are becoming the well-amused mob instead.  Print newspapers and TV news no longer have the budget for informed reporting, and we can’t be bothered to listen if they did.  We are too busy, and turn to biased sources that pander to our tastes. Even on the Internet, which is supposed to level the playing field and bring unlimited information, we’re watching You Tube and gossip blogs.  We’re drawn to TV and videos because of their seductive powers of excitement, which we receive passively, without thinking.  It is the perfect medium for showing the fight and pulling heart strings, it is a lousy medium for balanced, in depth analysis.  Special interests and politicians know this, and use it.

Even where there is broad consensus on an issue, some oddballs can be found to make it appear controversial so it is more entertaining for TV (climate change deniers, 9-11 building demolition conspiracy theories, etc.).  It is more interesting and emotional to focus on the one person in a million screwed by a law, than the millions helped (the pork in the stimulus instead of the overall effect on the economy, the autism victim instead of studies showing no relation to vaccines, the cancer cluster victims instead of the math showing clusters are part of a random distribution..

For a public that is largely ignorant of science, video provides the perfect medium for perpetuating some common errors and deceptions, such as:

  • confusing coincidence with causation,
  • leaving out key parts of the story
  • focusing on the odd-out tree instead of the forest



Cause and Effect



Kids become autistic after taking vaccine.

Studies show kids not taking vaccine just as likely to become autistic, and that it happens to manifest itself when kids start talking, which is when they get vaccinated.



Federal Government had a surplus after Clinton took office.

Surplus was due to George Bush senior reversing his no tax pledge and raising taxes – there was a time lag for it to kick in..



3 strikes works – crime has decreased since it was implemented.

Actually, crime was already decreasing prior to 3 strikes – probably due to the improving economy. 




Left out


Evaluating teachers based on student performance is unfair.  Teachers who take on a job in a tough neighborhood with poor students will suffer because they have harder students to deal with.

Proposals for teacher merit pay are not just based on student performance.  Like anyone else with a boss, they would be evaluated based on whether they are on time, are prepared for class, have prepared lesson plans that aren’t recycled from 10 years ago, and generally do their job well.


Our corporate tax rate is higher than other countries.

We have more deductions and loopholes than other countries, so the effective rate paid is about the same.


The rich pay a higher percentage in income tax, and thus bear a disproportionate burden.

If you count sales taxes, social security taxes, and all other taxes, the rich pay about the same percentage of their income as the poor.


Capital gains tax cuts pay for themselves – there was an increase in revenue after the 2003 cuts.

In the long term, after everyone initially sells their stocks to take advantage, revenue is down.





Some kids have an adverse reaction to vaccines, and there is more of this than people getting sick from the disease.

Most kids are protected from the disease, and the only reason the disease rate is so incredibly low, that the reaction rate can be higher, is because of the vaccine.


One farmer’s family loses its farm due to inheritance tax (labeled the evil “death tax” by conservatives).

Almost no one is losing a farm.  The tax only kicks for very expensive estates.  The tax revenue allows income rates to be lower than they otherwise would, helping millions.

How do you avoid being manipulated?  Unfortunately, it takes work.  The easiest is to find a balanced source.  If it is one person talking, claiming balance, it still isn’t balanced.  Look for roundtable shows or debates with representatives from two viewpoints, or pro and con side-by-side articles.  Or go to two different sources for your news, with different leanings, such as one liberal and one conservative.

Politicians use of Manipulation

Business Manipulation

Effect of TV

Common Ways we are Manipulated







Home | Issues | Book Reviews | Blog | Resources | Contact Us


Yogi says

“Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

President Grover Cleveland, 1898.


"First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure." Mark Twain

Misuse of statistics article.


Here is a good list, with examples, of common mathematical mistakes. by advertisers, the media, politicians and activists.


Copyright © 2008 - All rights reserved.