Day: April 2, 2009

The myth of government source reliability

When we teach speech students about evaluating sources, we usually tell them that government figures are more reliable than others. We teach journalism students the same thing. Maybe the operative word here is “more” and “than others.”

The greater lesson, perhaps, is to be skeptical of anything that any source tells you until you see the original data and understand how it was gathered and what it means.

As FOXNews reports in The Myth of 90 Percent, a “fact” that has been floated around by a whole bunch of government officials and passed on uncritically by a number of media outlets is just flat wrong, i.e., the “fact” that 90% of the guns used in Mexican crime comes from the United States.

It’s not just a little wrong. It’s a lot wrong. A more accurate way to look at the facts is this: about 17% of recovered weapons used in a crime in Mexico could be traced to the U.S. Continue reading

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Why we need problem-solving skills

According to everything I’m reading, this is not an April Fool’s joke. A woman in Kissimmee, Florida, called 911 because she was locked in her car. She was locked in her car because nothing electrical was working, and her car had electric door locks.

Yep, that’s right. She didn’t know what that little plunger thingie up by the window was for. After all, it wasn’t electric.

Here’s the actual recording of the call.

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