Ahmed Mohamed

Hoax allegations and conspiracy theories The Dallas Morning News referred to some comments that emerged in the aftermath of the incident as conspiracy theories, reporting that most of them “cited no evidence, contradicted each other, or clashed with known facts”.[63] … Continue reading

Hoax allegations and conspiracy theories

The Dallas Morning News referred to some comments that emerged in the aftermath of the incident as conspiracy theories, reporting that most of them “cited no evidence, contradicted each other, or clashed with known facts”.[63] Some conservative commentators sought to cast suspicion on Mohamed’s family and Muslim groups that supported Mohamed after his detainment, positing that Mohamed planned to provoke his arrest to embarrass police and speculating the incident was a plot orchestrated by Islamistactivists.[63]

Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News Channel Andrew Napolitano alleged that the incident was a “purposeful hoax” and asserted that Mohamed did not create a clock but instead dismantled an existing clock and transferred the internals into a pencil box.[64]

After reviewing these theories, The Dallas Morning News wrote: “No theory that The News has reviewed cites any evidence that Ahmed, who routinely brought electronic creations to his middle school and said he wanted to impress high school teachers, planned to get handcuffed and hit the news” and reported that “a police ‘investigation determined the student apparently did not intend to cause alarm bringing the device to school’.”[63] Slate observed that at no point did officials exhibit any concern that the clock was dangerous.[65]


Ahmed Mohamed And Family Demand $15 Million In Damages And Apology From School District

His arrest was a violation of his civil rights, according to his attorneys.

11/23/2015 05:43 pm ET | Updated Nov 23, 2015


Sometimes, you’ve just got to tell it like it is

Arctic discovery LINDSAY ABRAMS WEDNESDAY, AUG 6, 2014 03:27 PM -0500 The study concerns the large deposits of methane (CH4) — a greenhouse gas over twenty times more potent than CO2 — known to be buried beneath the Arctic. Stockholm University … Continue reading

Arctic discovery

WEDNESDAY, AUG 6, 2014 03:27 PM -0500

The study concerns the large deposits of methane (CH4) — a greenhouse gas over twenty times more potent than CO2 — known to be buried beneath the Arctic. Stockholm University researchers found that some of that methane is leaking, and even making it to the ocean’s surface. They called the discovery “somewhat of a surprise,” which, according to Box, doesn’t quite communicate its importance.

“Even if a small fraction of the Arctic carbon were released to the atmosphere, we’re fucked,”

Soundbites

A sound bite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a … Continue reading

A sound bite is a short clip of speech or music extracted from a longer piece of audio, often used to promote or exemplify the full length piece. In the context of journalism, a sound bite is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that captures the essence of what the speaker was trying to say, and is used to summarize information and entice the reader or viewer. The term was coined by the U.S. media in the 1970s. Since then, politicians have increasingly employed sound bites to summarize their positions.

Due to its brevity, the sound bite often overshadows the broader context in which it was spoken, and can be misleading or inaccurate. The insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation, leading to conflict over journalistic ethics.

In his book The Sound Bite Society, Jeffrey Scheuer argues that the sound bite was the product of television‘s increased power over all forms of communication, and that the resulting trend toward short, catchy snippets of information had a significant negative impact on American political discourse.[6] In contrast, Peggy Noonan feels that sound bites have acquired a negative connotation but are not inherently negative, and that what we now think of as great historical sound bites—such as “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself“, the most famous phrase in Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s first Inaugural Address—were examples of eloquent speakers unselfconsciously and “simply trying in words to capture the essence of the thought they wished to communicate.”[7]

The increased use of sound bites in news media has been criticized, and has led to discussions on journalistic and media ethics.[8] According to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, journalists should “make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.” [9]

Despite this criticism, sound bites are widely employed by businesses, trade groups, labor unions and politicians. Senator Jim DeMint readily admitted this when he said, “There’s a reason why most politicians talk in sanitized sound bites: Once you get out of that, you’re opening yourself up to get attacked.”

it is easy to protest
when the bombs fall miles from the fridge
yet, we are still afraid
a trip to Disney World on the line
so what hundred children massacred a day
better to have less terrorists, right?


Twitterpated

Social media has been getting a bad rap recently. Blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media outlets have certainly had a dramatic impact on how people communicate. They are powerful tools and many people have put them to good use. There are some unintended consequences as well, and as a society we […]

Social media has been getting a bad rap recently. Blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media outlets have certainly had a dramatic impact on how people communicate. They are powerful tools and many people have put them to good use.

There are some unintended consequences as well, and as a society we are still learning to adapt to this new factor in our lives. There are issues of privacy, the rules of social behavior, and the ethics of spreading dubious information online.

We discussed two related issues recently on the SGU. The first was about the recent paper, “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation,” by Lewandowsky. Essentially Lewandowsky wrote a paper about conspiracy theories around the denial of global warming. Part of the backlash against that paper by self-described global warming skeptics included further conspiracy theories about the paper. Lewandowsky could not resist the irony, hence his subsequent paper.

The controversy stems from the fact that Lewandowsky, in the follow up paper, named specific bloggers and speculated about their mental states in a psychology journal. The questions that arise from this are many: what rights to privacy does one surrender when they publish something online? Is it ethical to name specific people in a psychological journal, and if not, how does one give source references without naming their targets?

These are important issues with many ramifications once you start to think it through. Public figures are fair game for criticism and even ridicule. It’s the price you pay for being famous or engaging in public discourse. The law recognizes that private citizens are not fair game and deserve some level of protection.

Has social media, however, made everyone a public figure? At what point does posting online under your real name forfeit the expectation of privacy? Does this justify online posters using a pseudonym? What are the ethics of someone anonymously (under a pseudonym) using social media to attack the reputation of someone else who posts online under their real name?

The issue of privacy is made more important by the fact that social media tends to be a harsh and unforgiving environment. Social media has increased interaction without the usual social cues that tend to moderate our behavior.

In short, people feel free to be complete asses on the internet, especially when they are doing so anonymously.

This is certainly a boon to psychologists – you have millions of people interacting with diminished inhibitions. This is a flood of data about the human psyche, culture, belief systems, social interactions, and the spread of information. Suddenly we are all part of a vast pseudovoluntary psychological experiment.

The second item we discussed on the SGU was a recent study of pro and anti-vaccine messages on Twitter. The study found three things – negative but not positive vaccine messages on twitter were contagious, negative tweets spread faster that positive tweets, and (most disturbingly) high volumes of both negative and positive tweets provoked an increase in negative tweets.

Anti-vaccine information therefore has a profound advantage over pro-vaccine information on Twitter. This effect likely generalizes to other issues and other forms of social media. For whatever reason, we are more motivated to pass on negative information than positive information. This represents a massive and probably harmful bias in the way information spreads through social media.

In short, people are negative assholes on the internet.

Not surprisingly there are negative effects of this online culture. A thorough review of existing research is beyond the scope of this post, but let me summarize the preliminary findings that such research is starting to show: Engaging in social media can potentially harm self esteem, it can increase stress, and it can lead to social isolation with decreased physical contact with other people.  There is a correlation with negative health outcomes among teenagers. Who knows how much lost work productivity has been caused by spending time on social media. And of course, social media allows for the viral spread of rumors, scaremongering, and misinformation.

It’s not all bad, of course. Social media are a powerful tool, and its popularity speaks to this power. It is an effective way to engage in mass communication, and has largely democratized access to publishing. Social media are also a potentially powerful source of information, for example by tracking the spread of infectious diseases.

It is still an immature technology, however. As a culture we need to learn how to maximize its benefits while mitigating the negative aspects of social media. Social media has had, in my opinion, a profoundly positive and negative effect on the skeptical community, for example.

I feel we can definitely benefit from further research into the uses and effects of social media, in addition to experimentation with methods to mitigate its negative effects. Existing studies, for example, are mostly correlational, and it is therefore difficult to make firm cause and effect conclusions. Further research can help sort this out.

The question is – what will advance more quickly, our ability to handle this advancing technology, or the technology itself?

virtual virii

Viral has become marketing’s Holy Grail. From the Harlem Shake to the Rutgers basketball coach abusing his players, hardly a week goes by without some video or news story going viral. And word of mouth and virality have a huge … Continue reading

Viral has become marketing’s Holy Grail. From the Harlem Shake to the Rutgers basketball coach abusing his players, hardly a week goes by without some video or news story going viral. And word of mouth and virality have a huge impact on businesses, large and small. Blender company Blendtec’s sales shot up more than 700% a few years ago after videos of the CEO blending things like iPhones spread like wildfire. But what makes something go viral?

If you ask most social media “gurus,” they’ll tell you it’s all about getting lucky. Viral isn’t a strategy, it’s like buying a lottery ticket. Or they’ll talk about cats. Lots of people share videos of funny kitties, so cats must be the reason things go viral.

All these theories are great, except, well, they’re not really backed up by anything. No data. No analytics. Just old fashioned guesses based on looking at a couple particularly noteworthy successes. It’s like the idea that the Earth was flat. It seemed right until someone actually looked deeper and showed, well…it wasn’t.

Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even.

My colleagues and I have analyzed thousands of news articles and hundreds of brands, all to understand why some make the most emailed list or get more word of mouth. Again and again we found the same principles at work. Six key drivers that shape what people talk about and share.Those six principles are the basis of my new book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and the first principle is Social Currency.

New York City is a tough place to open a bar. Competition is fierce and it’s hard to cut through the clutter. There are dozens of options around every corner.

But a few years ago Brian Shebairo launched a place that’s been packed since the day it opened. In fact, it’s one of the most sought after drink reservations in the city. Bookings are only available day-of and people frantically hit redial again and again hoping to snag a spot. Yet he’s never advertised the bar. Never spent a dollar on marketing.

How did Shebairo do it?

He hid his bar inside a hot dog restaurant.

Walk into Crif Dogs in the East Village, and you’ll find the most amazing hot dog menu you’ve ever seen. A Tsunami dog with pineapple and green onions, a Chihuahua dog with avocado and sour cream, and a Good Morning dog wrapped in bacon, smothered with cheese, and topped with a fried egg.

In one corner, off to the side, is an old-school phone booth. One of those rectangular numbers that Clark Kent used to morph into Superman. Walk inside and you’ll see a rotary dial phone on the wall. Pick up the phone, and just for fun, dial the number 1. Someone will pick-up the other line and ask you if you have a reservation. And if you do, the back of the phone booth will open and you’ll be let into a secret bar called, of all things, Please Don’t Tell.

Has Please Don’t Tell violated traditional “laws of marketing?” Sure. There is no sign on the street and no mention of it in the hot dog place. In fact, they’ve worked hard to make themselves a secret.

But there’s a funny thing about secrets. Think about the last time someone told you a secret. Told you not to tell another soul. What’s the first thing you did with that information?

You probably told someone else.

And the reason is something called Social Currency. People talk about things that make them look good. Sharp and in-the-know. Smart and funny rather than behind the times. If people go to a place like Please Don’t Tell, or even if they just hear about it, they tell others because it gives them status.

Social Currency isn’t just about hidden bars. It’s why people brag about their thousands of Twitter followers or their kids’ SAT scores. Why golfers boast about their handicaps and frequent fliers tell others when they get upgraded. McDonald’s used social currency to help the McRib sandwich take-off and RueLaLa used it to turn a struggling website into a $500M business.

Want to generate word of mouth? Get people talking about you? One way is to give them a way to look good. Make people feel special, or like insiders, and they’ll tell others—and spread word of mouth about you along the way.

Along with five other key principles (STEPPS: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories), Social Currency is a sure fire way to generate buzz. Will following these six principles guarantee that 10 million people spread your message? No. But it will increase the number of people who pass it on. Encourage people to tell two friends instead of just one. It’s like a batting average in baseball. No one hits a home run every time, but by understanding the science of hitting you can boost your average.

The next time someone tells you that going viral is about luck, politely tell them that there is a better way. Science. Word of mouth isn’t random and it’s not magic. By understanding why people talk and share, we can craft contagious content. And use it to get our own products and ideas to catch on.
Jonah Berger is a Marketing professor at the Wharton School. Want to learn more about why things go viral? Check out his New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Follow Jonah below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!

Posted by:Jonah Berger