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jerryking : facts   5

Think Like a Libel Lawyer
March 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By David McCraw, deputy general counsel of The New York Times.

It's the best way to keep an open mind in our “pick your side and stay on it” era.

My job, when I am doing it right, is to please no one. I’m a press lawyer. I’m paid by this newspaper to vet stories before publication.

Think of me as a story’s first and worst reader: doubtful, questioning, blind to subtlety, skeptical of the facts, regularly prodding editors and reporters to do something more or different. And if I have done my job well, many of the subjects of those same stories will be unhappy as well, but for all the reasons we want them to be: We got it right.

The basic idea of libel law is simple. A publisher can get sued for making a factual statement that proves to be false and hurts a person’s reputation.......I am all about the villains in many pieces — the doctor who botched the surgery, the insurance company that shafted its customers, the professor who hit on the student, the greedy industrialist who ground up workers to make a fortune. I try to look for the counternarrative that they could (and their lawyers will) build from the same set of facts. It’s a counterintuitive form of reading. It’s looking for the innocent explanation or the possibility that what appears to all the rest of the world to be nefarious may in fact just be a mistake made in good faith. It’s a tricky skill to take into the real world....for a libel lawyer, a little sympathy for the villain is almost an occupational requirement. And maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for all of us in the tribalized “pick your side and stay on it” era we are living in......Libel lawyers don’t serve as the fairness police. If anything, they are more like fact cops. Coverage can be wildly unfair and still be true. .....Over the past half-decade, The Times and others had reoriented themselves to reader-centered journalism. The shift in attitude has been like opening a window after a long winter. Journalism should be done as if the readers mattered.

But in a divided America there was a risk, too — the risk that we would set our compass by what people wanted rather than giving them the journalism they needed.......It was discouraging that so many people apparently believed that the time-honored journalistic act of telling a story straight had become a problem and that The Times needed instead to take sides and coach readers on what to think.

Journalism is hard when people feel the failure to take sides is in and of itself a surrender....The great risk we face comes not in giving them (the alt-right) voice but in taking their worst instincts and making them our own.

The First Amendment gives a lot of protection to even nasty speakers.....we write about people in the news, not just the people we agree with.....that is how the First Amendment works — thanks to our “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide open,......Speakers are allowed to be provocative, colorful, contradictory and wrong.

counternarratives  counterintuitive  dark_side  facts  First_Amendment  free-press  journalism  lawyers  libel  NYT  skepticism  open_mind  villains 
march 2019 by jerryking
5 books worth reading this summer
May 21, 2018 | | LinkedIn| Bill Gates

Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. I think Leonardo was one of the most fascinating people ever. Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater...... A worthy follow-up to Isaacson’s great biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler.

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Abraham Lincoln, but this novel made me rethink parts of his life. It blends historical facts from the Civil War with fantastical elements—it’s basically a long conversation among 166 ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son.

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian.

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund.
billgates  books  booklists  Abraham_Lincoln  biographies  cancers  facts  Hans_Rosling  Leonardo_da_Vinci  origin_story  polymaths  summertime  Walter_Isaacson  Geoge_Saunders 
may 2018 by jerryking
The Phone Call That Saved Israel
The key lessons are
1) facts are better than "concepts", so we had better get all the facts we can. With out facts all one has is opinions, and we know how accurate those are.
2) facts can be igno...
espionage  Egypt  facts  humint  Israel  lessons_learned  letters_to_the_editor  pretense_of_knowledge  security_&_intelligence  Yom_Kippur_War 
august 2016 by jerryking
Pandemics and Poor Information -
MAY 11, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Whenever there's a threat of epidemic, alongside early deaths comes the casualty of information. Asian governments at least learned from their recent experience of bird flu and SARS the importance of not covering up outbreaks. The still open question is how to assess warnings that health professionals make based on inadequate information. Almost by definition, the risk of an epidemic occurs when the one thing disease experts know for sure is that they don't know for sure what will happen.
"What new information would be sufficient to change your decision?"

Alexander's question (AKA 'Dr. Alexander's question') is a question used to uncover assumptions and associations that may be confusing your judgment. Asking what information would be needed to change your mind can help bring faulty reasoning to light, and it can also point out what facts you should be researching before committing yourself and others to a course of action.

The uncertainty about the longer-term threat of the current swine flu is a
reminder that nature is more complex than mathematical models.Scientific
hypotheses can then be tested, but this approach has limits when it
comes to predictions.
"Alexander's Question," named for a physician who had posed a canny
question of his fellow experts: What information might make the group
change its mind about the need for immunization? Focusing on it would
have led to more focus on uncertainties: the trade-off between side
effects and flu, the difference between the severity of the flu and its
spread, and the choice between mandatory vaccinations and stockpiling in
case of later need. Decision makers should ask themselves what new
"knowns" would change their views.
assumptions  CDC  change_your_mind  critical_thinking  decision_making  Dr.Alexander's_Question  epidemics  facts  flu_outbreaks  hidden  immunization  information  information_flows  information_gaps  information-poor  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  latent  medical_communication  pandemics  physicians  problem_framing  questions  risk-assessment  side_effects  stockpiles  tradeoffs  uncertainty  unknowns  vaccines 
may 2009 by jerryking
40 ideas we need now -- Unlearning the tyranny of facts
Nov. 2006 | This Magazine | DAVID NAYLOR. Engage in critical
thinking. Pinpoint flaws in logic, dissect rhetorical flourishes away
from the core of an argument, examine issues from different perspectives
and differentiate science from pseudo-science...We are still very
focused on facts—arrayed in patterns, conveyed passively, or uncovered
more or less predictably through cookbook experimentation and
unchallenging exploration. That emphasis seems incongruous. With
computers able to store and search vast amounts of information, facts
are cheap [JCK:the Web is really a source of "external knowledge"]...What might the next generation of learners do instead of
memorizing facts, you ask? Among other things, they could read and play
music. Play more sports. Write prose and poetry. Acquire a skeptic’s
toolkit of sound reasoning skills. Debate highly-charged issues and
learn the lost art of rational and respectful discourse. Study
inspirational biographies, not to memorize facts, but to promote
understanding of how one might lead a more meaningful life.

[From my own note: the presence of facts does not mean that the truth is present. The "truth" is a more complicated thing than mere facts alone]
agreeably_disagree  argumentation  biographies  commoditization_of_information  critical_thinking  David_Naylor  disagreements  external_knowledge  facts  ideas  infoliteracy  inspiration  logic_&_reasoning  poetry  public_discourse  rhetoric  skepticism  sports  uToronto 
may 2009 by jerryking

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