12-8-12 Hodgepodge

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Judging Advice from Outside One's Field

In a letter to the TEDx community, Lara Stein and Emily McManus attempt to address the problem of "bad science/pseudoscience talks at TEDx events". The two address what bad science/pseudoscience are, common warning signs that something might fall into one of these catagories, and topics that are particularly infested. After discussing these aspects of the problem, Stein and McManus offer some good tips for how to begin researching a topic one is unfamiliar with. Much of their material would be useful to anyone needing to form an opinion about something one knows little about.

Weekend Reading

"It's a tragic sign of just how far we've fallen that a single 60 second ad can reveal both the wastefulness of the government's absurd 'stimulus' programs as well as its contemptible role in causing, and even advocating, impoverishment." -- Amit Ghate, in "A Revealing Ad Exposes the Department of Energy's Hypocrisy" at Forbes

"The fact that you haven't stopped proves nothing except that you don't yet want to stop badly enough." -- Michael Hurd, in "Go All the Way" at The Delaware Coast Press

"'I know I did well; it's nice that others see it too' is quite different from the more neurotic, 'Wow -- look at all this applause and recognition.'" -- Michael Hurd, in "Pride in a Job Well Done" at The Delaware Wave

"Basing policy on a knee-jerk reaction to a handful of incidents that may or may not be related to energy drinks could rob consumers of their right to make their own choices about their health and diet." -- Michelle Minton, in "Senator Durbin is Wrong on Energy Drinks Ban" at The Hill

My Two Cents

The good news, as revealed by the Ghate column, is that an ad based on the Parable of the Broken Window has hit the airways. The bad news -- that the government presents it in the wrong context and misapplies it -- will completely undercut the good unless more people like Amit Ghate take the opportunity to point out the errors he did.


Microsoft recently attempted a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) smear campaign against Android phones.

[W]hen Microsoft decided to launch a win a free Windows Phone Twitter campaign with "Do you have an Android malware horror story?  Reply with #DroidRage with your best/worst story and we may have a get-well present for you" on Twitter and Chris DiBona, Google's Director of Open Source, fired back, "Wanna see what Flop Sweat looks like? Follow:@windowsphone" I knew this wasn't going to end well for Microsoft.
The campaign almost entirely backfired, generating loads of tweets, such as:
Whoops. Just activated another million devices today. Sorry bout that, @windowsphone.#DroidRage
But the campaign wasn't a total failure. There were tweets Microsoft could use, too:
Dont try to be trendy, dont try to manipulate opinion, just make good products #AndroidRage.
I'm quite happy with my Android phone and, to date, personally know one person who owns a Windows phone, a Blackberry refugee.



Amit Ghate said...

Thanks for the link Gus!

Gus Van Horn said...

And thanks for writing an incredible piece about and ad that was equally incredible, but in an entirely different sense.