Media & the swine flu Thursday, Apr 30 2009 

The media are having a field day with the recent swine flu outbreak. What better opportunity for sensationalism and scaremongering? The media excel in these particular areas (for obvious reasons). I needn’t really provide any examples–one needs only to turn on the tube. Some recent headlines have been certainly confusing, if not contradictory, though. “Inaccurate ‘swine’ flu label hurts industry, pork producers say,” reads one CNN headline. “Swine flu name change? Flu genes spell pig,” reads another from the Associated Press. Never mind that what we call the virus is of so little importance. So, is it a “misnomer,” as CNN would have it, or is it truly a swine flu, as the AP article would suggest? The U.S. government and the World Health Organization (WHO) have stopped calling it the swine flu and instead refer to it by as its official scientific name, 2009 H1N1. But as the AP points out, this particular strain is six parts bovine, one part human, and one part avian–essentially a swine flu (note, though, you can’t get it from eating pork). Ah, but WHO is merely being altruistic by saving all the pigs that would otherwise be slaughtered if they continued to call it the swine flu. Right? Well, that’s how the story goes. So far, though, you have one death in the United States. As tragic as that is, the influenza virus kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year (see, e.g. Dushoff et al. 2005) and hundreds of thousands more worldwide. Obviously I don’t think there is enough perspective being given.

Palestine protest Monday, Apr 27 2009 

Last week there was a group of people on campus outside of the Performing Arts Center with a public display regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the last Israeli offensive against Palestine. Most graphically, they had a pile of 100 manikins piled atop of each other next to one manikin, representing the unequal causalities in that offensive. They also had another pile of smaller manikins representing the amount of children who died on the Palestinian side. They also had a display of personal stories from those who saw first-hand the horrors of the Israeli attack; a list of causalities including women and children; and plenty of handouts regarding the history of this conflict providing relevant information, history, and statistics. A lot of people seemed to be checking it out, including SCSU president Earl Potter. Naturally, of course, the school newspaper chose not to cover it.

The Moral Economy Tuesday, Apr 21 2009 

We often here the phrase, “that’s the nature of business.” What a quaint phrase. It’s almost pejorative, as it suggests there is something inherently bad and distinct going on. (I.e., it’s behavior distinct from that of human’s, and it’s also a necessary evil that we must live with.) But if we think about it for a moment, we should realize business and corporations do not have a nature. These are not natural entities. They’re social constructs. They are a product of man and his laws. If we really think something is wrong with “business as usual,” we should realize that this formulation of the corporation is just as easily changed as it was created. There should be no reason that how we think corporations ought to behave should be any different than how they actually do.

Knowing this, we should ask what moral principles and theories the corporation and the market are based on. This is not really a question we often ask ourselves, but it’s relevant if we are to understand business behavior and markets, and why they exist as they do. My hypothesis is that the classically liberal free market economy is based largely on the moral theory of ethical egoism, a morally bankrupt and vacuous theory. (Note that I do not say free markets are bad, but merely the moral principle upon which it is formulated is.) This argument assumes moral realism, which I say is open for debate. From there, we should try to figure out what the implications of this are.

The free market is a form of economic liberalism, whose principle champion throughout the 20th century was Milton Friedman, one of the most famous American economists and a Nobel laureate. An important essay written by Friedman in 1970 that outlines his beliefs in the free market is “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” (PDF), which will be the basis for this post. In it, he makes many nuanced arguments in favor of the unregulated market, wherein the corporation’s sole responsibility, moral or otherwise, is to maximize shareholder profits.

So, to understand this economic principle, it’s helpful to understand the moral principle upon which it is based, ethical egoism. This moral theory says that individuals (including corporations—see my post “Are corporations individuals?“) should act only so as to maximize self-interests. For corporations, this means act so as to maximize profits. This is in direct conflict with theories based on altruism, which suggest we should act so as to consider and help others. Many egoists—people that include the likes of Ayn Rand or Friedman—would argue that altruism is immoral. Note that this theory does not say that agents should act based on what they prefer, but only what actually maximizes self-interest, therefore it’s a consequentialist theory. In all, the ethical egoistic principle of value states that only the acting agent has intrinsic moral value; others merely have extrinsic moral value, which simply means that other people besides the acting agent are means or tools to help the agent. It’s saying the only person who counts is the agent, while other people are just tools or fodder for that agent.

Automatically we are beginning to sense some weaknesses in this moral theory, but it’s largely the basis for the classically free market economic model. There are all sorts of arguments in defense of ethical egoism (e.g. psychological egoism), which are usually very easily shot down. However, these arguments are still used to justify Friedman’s free market model. The central idea is that if corporations act so that their only obligation is to their shareholders, they’re satisfying ethical egoism and their self-interests (i.e. shareholder profits) are maximized. As one commenter named Roark noted on this blog, a corporation’s obligation should be to the shareholders within the bounds of the law. Friedman makes this argument too, but it’s not quite true. The reason is because following the law doesn’t necessarily maximize profits. So, instead, corporations are supposed to follow the law only when it maximizes profits; there’s supposed to be a cost-benefit analysis of following the law. And this is indeed what we see happen (see, in particular, the documentary called The Corporation, which I referenced and linked to in my previous post on corporate personhood). If a corporation thinks they can successfully break a law without getting caught or where the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs, they will do so. In most cases, though, staying within the law does help maximize their profits, lest they end up bankrupt like Enron. In the end, when we inspect Friedman’s arguments and those of ethical egoism, the principle is that we maximize our own profits and we use others as a means to do that, which means we do not and should not have any obligation to others except ourselves (or shareholders, in the case of corporations). One argument to support this view is that it ultimately helps everyone. This capitalist structure, it is argued, benefits society, helps poor people, grows economies, is fair to others, etc. This argument, even if true, however, is incongruent with ethical egoism, because in ethical egoism the only person with intrinsic moral value is the agent him or herself—what happens to others is irrelevant, so long as it maximizes the agent’s profits. That’s what they call the moral economy.

However, as we can easily see, ethical egoism is a completely vacuous and bankrupt moral theory. Yet, this is the theory that has been used to justify and defend the classically liberal free market economy that Friedman argues for. We find the theory is morally inconsistent (some acts can be both wrong and right, depending on whose perspective it’s from), has poor applicability (like all consequentialist theories), has poor external support (psychological egoism, for example, is very unlikely true), and has very little internal support (i.e. ethical egoism is not aligned with our intrinsic or core moral beliefs).

There’s actually a pretty good example of how little internal support there is for this theory. Let’s take a blog post by Dave Switzer, an economics professor at SCSU, as an example. He argues that price discrimination is economically justifiable when it does not hurt other groups (“Economically … I would argue that the practice would be good”), but he makes a distinction that this practice may not be morally justifiable (“When I concluded the initial post by saying that if giving group A a lower price is not causing you to give group B a higher price, then price discrimination is not a bad thing, I was talking about this in an economic context. When I said gender-based preferences are wrong in my comment, I was talking about it in a moral context.”) What may actually help maximize profits may not actually be aligned with our moral beliefs of what’s right and wrong.

Does this all mean the free market model is necessarily unjustifiable? Does it mean it’s necessarily immoral to have a free market? My answer is “no.” It means we have to come up with a better moral justification than ethical egoism. Indeed, there are plenty of moral arguments to support free markets by utilitarians or deontologists (like supporters of Kantian ethics). However, it may mean we need to slightly modify Friedman’s view of the corporation. It may not be sufficient to say the only obligation a corporation has is to its shareholders. From this idea comes stakeholder theory. This theory states that every stakeholder’s interests should be considered, including the society’s and environment’s, employee’s, shareholder’s, customer’s, etc. Indeed, we generally agree that corporations should follow laws, even if doing so doesn’t maximize their profits, because they have this obligation to society (which writes these laws). We also generally agree corporations have a duty to treat employees so as to satisfy their interests, we want product safety, don’t want corporations to dump in rivers, etc. In this case, I think we ultimately can conclude a corporation’s obligations are much broader than we generally see in the free market argument. There is a new and younger generation of businesspeople who are beginning to take into account these considerations, like stakeholder theory, where it is no longer implied that shareholder profits are the only obligation corporations have, and I think this will be reflected in future corporate decisions.

Cloud Cult Thursday, Apr 16 2009 

Cloud Cult came to SCSU tonight. Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps was the opening band. It was phenomenal. :D

More denialism Tuesday, Apr 14 2009 

Global warming denialism is still strong, particularly by those on the right for some reason. Perhaps it’s because they adhere to the idea that if we want to solve this problem, it’s going to hurt and we can’t have that happen. Of course, they’re wrong on that point. (Check out some of Amory Lovins’ work, for example.) They hate the answer, so they hate the theory. Never mind they’ve got the answer completely misconstrued–attacking a theory because you disagree with its result is not the way to go. You should be critical of the basis of the theory. Unfortunately, this is lacking in the “debate” on global warming.

Some in St. Cloud still seem to be fascinated with the subject after Bachmann’s recent “visit” to campus. This is good, but they’re still attacking the theory because they disagree with what it says, not the scientific basis for it. See, for example, this recent post by King Banaian, an SCSU economics professor and chairman of the department. There’s an interesting discussion taking place there, but let’s evaluate some of the claims.

The Earth’s climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth’s climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

Yes, of course; the sun is an important driver of climate, but it is not by any means the only driver. Greenhouse gases, for example, also play a crucial role in the climate. So it’s important to look at all the meaningful forcings. And, as it happens, scientists have. The journalist (no wonder) here is flatly incorrect; solar variation has been accounted for in the models. What we find is that solar irradiance had a radiative forcing of .12 W/m^2 (watts per square meter) in 2005. What this means is that it does have a positive radiative forcing (increases temperatures), but it is small, especially when we compare it to human activities (emitting CO2 and methane, land use, etc.), which has a radiative forcing of 1.6 W/m^2. So, clearly, human’s impact on climate is much more profound than that of solar variation.

“To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable – human-induced CO2 – is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. Yet when astronomers have the temerity to show that climate is driven by solar activities rather than CO2 emissions, they are dismissed as dinosaurs undertaking the methods of old-fashioned science.”

Again, it’s not being reduced to one variable. Many are being accounted for, including solar variation. “Ah, but CO2 doesn’t account for much of the atmosphere, and certainly only a tiny amount is human-induced, so that can’t be the answer.” Wrong. It’s true that human-caused CO2 makes up a small amount of the atmosphere. But that’s not the point at all. Ice core data has shown that CO2 levels are higher now than they have been for at least 650,000 years; other evidence (see Pearson and Palmer, 2000, for example) suggests it may have been on the magnitude of 20 million years. The rise in CO2 and other greenhouse gases since the start of the Industrial Revolution is unambiguous. (And CO2 levels keep going up, and are expected to for a long time.) It’s important to keep in mind that CO2 has a long atmospheric lifetime (about 100 years–water vapor’s is about 10 days). So this means that humans are causing greenhouse gases to increase at a rate faster than carbon sinks can accommodate, which simply means temperature is going to rise. The radiative properties of greenhouses gases, known for over a 100 years now, explains this very well.

Over time, the history of CO2 content in the atmosphere has been far higher than at present for most of time. Atmospheric CO2 follows temperature rise. It does not create a temperature rise. CO2 is not a pollutant. Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and longer life.

I’ve addressed the “CO2 follows temperature rise” in an earlier post here. The argument that CO2 is not a pollutant and that increasing CO2 is actually a good thing are interesting ones. Given all the negative impacts that global warming is expected to bring or, indeed, has already brought about, it’s hard to imagine how CO2 increases could be beneficial. One argument is that plants love CO2, so production will increase. This is a seriously strained argument. New Scientist does a good enough job at debunking this myth.

Franken wins election, court declares Monday, Apr 13 2009 

Just a quick post: A three-judge panel official ruled today that Al Franken won the Minnesota Senate election, ahead by 312 votes. However, Norm Coleman said he intended to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would be final. This is, of course, the same Coleman who told Fraken not to bother challenging his initial lead, because this would be irresponsible, a waste, not something Minnesotans would want, etc. Fun political games!

Michelle Bachmann, Chris Horner, and Alfred Pekarek, oh my! Thursday, Apr 9 2009 

Today, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann paid a visit to SCSU. She represents (in one way, at least) Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes St. Cloud. Her ridiculous and frankly embarrassing statements made time again in public don’t really merit repeating here. Instead, I want to focus mostly on the claims that Chris Horner made today, presenting his case against cap and trade and the scientific consensus on global warming. He was brought along as a speaker by Congresswoman Bachmann, because she was so impressed with his rhetoric that he displayed in Washington a few weeks ago. Congresswoman Bachmann didn’t have much to say, except for some prepared remarks that were brief.

So, who then is Horner? He is an attorney and fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He’s written a few partisan books, talked a lot, etc. There was also Alfred Pekarek, an SCSU assistant professor in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department who studies mostly rocks. But he’s an ardent global warming denier who has happened to write some nonsense for the AAPG. (The AAPG, in 2007, became the last major scientific organization to affirm human’s role in global warming, after falling out of line with the scientists who work with them.) Of course, Dr. Pekarek has published no peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject, but he was mostly there as a figurehead anyway. Horner did all the talking. So what did Horner have to say?

The topic of the discussion was cap and trade, whereby the government sets a cap for carbon emissions and companies are given allowances for polluting so much. If you fall below this limit, you can trade (sell) your allowances to other companies that don’t meet this limit. The idea is that the free market will take over and corporations will stop polluting the air. Quite frankly, I don’t care for cap and trade, and I think it’s a stupid idea. It doesn’t work and so emissions don’t go down. That automatically eliminates it as any solution. This was part of Horner’s argument too, but mostly he was worried about it being anti-competitive, against the consumer, big interests, etc. That’s all well and fine, I don’t care to debate him on that issue since it doesn’t interest me (I’ve already stated it’s not a solution).

However, in what could be called the second part of his presentation, which was nominally called a question-and-answer session, Horner went on about the perceived lies in the global warming debate, though it isn’t much of a debate anymore. Horner really focused on three main things in his drivel, which, by now, has become old, tired, and thoroughly refuted: The IPCC sham, historical temperature record, and the relationship between solar forcing and temperature.

Horner took issue with the claim that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up of over 2,000 scientists who author their authoritative assessment reports. But the IPCC only claims to have 450 lead authors, not over 2,000, and 800 contributing authors. Furthermore, they release four reports (one of which is a synthesis of the other three). Only one deals with the actual physical basis for global warming, which is the Working Group I report. The IPCC claims this report was made by some 600 authors (lead and contributing) and reviewed by over “620 expert reviewers.” In its annex (PDF) they list all of their authors and their reviewers for that report. Wikipedia will actually make it easier for you, as it has a list of the contributors and their roles. Overwhelmingly these contributors come from the field of climatology or atmospheric sciences. That’s certainly a lot more than the Oregon Petition can say. (Never mind that every major national science academy in the world accepts the IPCC’s conclusions as the consensus on global warming.)

One thing Horner could not stop repeating is that in the historical temperature record, temperatures led CO2 emissions. What this means is that the the Earth saw a temperature increase before there was a CO2 increase (so temperature drove CO2 to go up, not the other way around), which Horner then construed to mean that CO2 could not be possibly be causing the current global warming. Well, of course, Horner is dead wrong. It is true that in the historical temperature record going back 600,000 years, CO2 lags behind temperature increases by about 200 to 1,000 years. This is because temperature increases cause increases in CO2, and this CO2 in turn causes a temperature increase (this is called a positive feedback in the technical literature). And we actually have a pretty good understanding of what caused these temperature to go up, which is something called orbital forcings, meaning small changes in the Earth’s orbit (Milankovitch cycles) change how much sunlight hits the planet, one of the reasons for ice ages and glaciations. This increased the CO2 in the atmosphere (by mechanisms I don’t care to go in detail about here), and after a certain period of time the CO2 took over as the main contributor to the temperature increases. (That is, temperature increased for some 5,000 years, only during 800 or so of which temperature led CO2; CO2 caused the other 4,200 years of warming.) That’s what the ice core record shows. So it’s very clear, still, that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that causes temperature to go up. The climate record shows this. But it’s also elementary physics and chemistry. The radiative properties of CO2 have been known for over 100 years. That there was a lag in the historical record in no way contradicts our understanding of how CO2 affects temperature, and it is this understanding that we use to explain the current global warming. For the sake of brevity, this post by RealClimate explains quite well the relationship between human activity and CO2 increases, and how it’s causing current global warming.

Finally, Horner points to the Sun as the main contributor to global warming. He says the Sun’s output matches quite well with variations in temperature. Again, this is flatly incorrect. A 2006 paper published in Nature by Foukal et al. showed that the Sun’s brightness has not increased over the past 1,000 years and that it has, in fact, contributed very little to the current global warming. When you look at recent solar variation, it doesn’t even come close to fitting the temperature record. The most liberal numbers, by Scafetta and West, suggest the Sun has contributed some 45 to 50 percent of the temperature increase between 1900 and 2000, and only 25 to 30 percent between 1980 and 2000. Likewise, the IPCC has found that the Sun slightly contributed to the increase in temperature between 1750 and 1950, but little after that. So when you take the Sun out of the equation, you simply cannot explain current warming.

Horner did address several other points, but this post is already getting quite long. I’d be glad to address them some other time. Suffice it say Horner is way off base with the scientific community, as are Congresswoman Bachmann and Dr. Pekarek. Instead, they wish to politicize the issue so they can propagandize and use all sort of rhetoric to win over gullible partisans. What we should do is focus on the science, and the peer-reviewed published literature is unequivocal on it stance on anthropogenic global warming.

Organ capitalism Monday, Apr 6 2009 

On his blog, David Switzer, an economics professor at SCSU, brings up the interesting topic of the sale of organs.

People who oppose the sale of organs are wary of the capitalist and market structure through which this would be done. For some, the thought of a market for organs is unsettling, because, after all, these are body parts we’re selling. They do not wish to view ourselves as “bag of cash,” and so people should not be rewarded for giving organs. Others worry about illegal transactions, or the exploitation of the poor that might take place (because they are in the most need of money).

But let me ask which is worse, the fact that in 2000, 35,000 people could not receive the kidney transplants they needed and that there’s an average of a four year waiting time (just to meet the necessary supply) or that the organ transplant market would be susceptible to the (supposedly) free markets?

Organ donations are only permitted under altruism, but the sad reality is that it does not come close to meeting the demand for those donations. In fact, demand is growing faster than supply–so don’t expect this problem to be solved any time soon. At least, not under the current method.

Allowing for the sale and purchase of organs, however, would allow us to meet the demand. An open market would also reduce the black market, which does exist but only as a poor-quality substitute that endangers the lives of those involved.

In 1971, Richard Titmuss wrote an influential book titled The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy. In it, he argued that blood should not be able to be sold for transfusion. Never mind the fact that America was getting more blood, where its purchase was legal, than Britain where it wasn’t–he focused on the quality. However, new technological improvements have improved screening. Not only does the legalized purchase of blood yield more blood, but also safe blood. The same would be true of organs.

There is a way to stop this needless death. Would you rather this market cost people their lives or cost them their dollars?

Some disagree, though, because they feel the poor will be exploited for the benefit of the rich who can purchase their organs. But why would the poor be better off by not allowing them to sell their organs? How does that benefit the poor? Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize winning economist asks, “If so desired, a quota could be placed on the fraction of organs that could be supplied by persons with incomes below a certain level, but would that improve the welfare of poor persons?” Is it implied that poor people cannot make rational decisions, and they must be protected from themselves? Why should poor people not have the free right to reason and the right to their own body?

David Holcberg argues, “The right to buy an organ is part of your right to life.” I agree.

Another argument against the sale of organs is that it is unsafe. The poor will be exploited, and this will damage their health, they argue. Consider, though, in 1954 Joseph Murray completed the first kidney allograft, or organ transplant from two non-identical people, and won the Nobel Prize in medicine for it. The donor in that transplant is still alive. Kidney transplants are safe. A 1997 study in the Transplantation journal found that live kidney donors not only retain full renal function but actually do not see any reduction in life expectancy (and, in fact, usually live longer than most people). There’s no basis to say these people are impaired. And even if you disagree with the established medical community, why should people (or their families) be refused compensation for post-death donation? There is, in fact, zero risk for them. (But who are we to legislate risk? We allow skydiving, stunt driving, test piloting, etc. Kidney transplantation, on the other hand, is safe.)

There is nothing good about unnecessary death. Some detractors argue that there is plenty of unnecessary death in the world, so why do we have to be so obsessed with this particular one? The answer is that these are very easily stopped deaths. In a 2007 paper, Gary Becker and Julio ElĂ­as find that, as with blood or sperm, monetary incentives for organ transplants “would increase the supply of organs for transplant sufficiently to eliminate the very large queues in organ markets, and the suffering and deaths of many of those waiting …” So, ask yourselves, why is this currently not legalized?

First Amendment Forum and the media Saturday, Apr 4 2009 

Yesterday, I was able to go to the 37th annual First Amendment Forum being held on campus. The theme was “Reporting God? Religion, News and Freedom.” Overall, I thought the forum was great and the panels and speakers certainly provoked good discussion.

I was disappointed that the first panel did not allow for a question and answer session between them and the audience. I’m sure there were plenty of people had questions they would have liked to ask the panel. For example, I thought it was really interesting professor David Domke from the University of Washington, early in his keynote address, wondered why the media did not critically analyze the increasingly religious rhetoric used by presidents since Reagan and, in particular, President George W. Bush, but instead echoed it. (And this is very true, and goes back to my explanation of how the media are biased.) Then I read one of the handouts that organizers of the event were offering. It was the “Journalist’s Creed” written by Walter Williams, founder of the Missouri School of Journalism. The handout states, “his declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists.” So, what does Williams write? In the creed, which is written from a journalist’s perspective in the first person, it states that “I believe that the journalism which succeeds best–and best deserves success–fears God . . .” Here we have the professor perplexed as to why the media are complicit in the increasing religiosity of the office of President and then a creed that the sponsors call a clear statement of journalists’ “principles, values, and standards” that calls for a fearing of God. Naturally, I was wondering how much this kind of propaganda still influences contemporary journalism and its standards. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask this question.

On the whole, I think Dr. Domke provided rather compelling evidence that the media have a systemic and institutional bias.

I would also like to point out another great part of the presentation. In the second panel, Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid very explicitly pointed out that the mainstream media was a profit-maximizing institution. Earlier, he had stated it was inappropriate to blame the media for bad things, such as not covering important news topics or for sensationalism (etc.), and that the majority of the blame rests in the audience’s interpretation. Dr. Domke, being the moderator of this panel, asked Mr. Abdul-Wahid to justify his position of letting the media get off so easy. In response, Mr. Abdul-Wahid said the media cannot be blamed because they are simply doing their job as a corporation, which is to make money. (I beg to differ, but more on that later.) Mr. Abdul-Wahid is correct in that the media have forsaken their duty because of their structure as corporations and, again, this goes back to my last post on the media and their bias.

During the question-and-answer session at the end, I was able to ask whether Mr. Abdul-Wahid or anyone else on the panel genuinely thought the media as a corporation is the ideal model for the dominant institution for providing news to the citizenry of this country and being a cornerstone of democracy. I believe Julia Opoti, Mordecai Specktor, and an Iranian professor of communication (she was filling in, and I wasn’t able to grab her name) provided very intelligent responses. Mr. Abdul-Wahid’s response, however, was that it was essentially okay for the media to be biased, to not provide news, to sensationalize, etc. because the media are large corporations in the business of making money, and he saw nothing wrong with that. However, that the media are corporations does not suggest that they should be. I believe that the current institutional structure of the media, based on the propaganda model detailed in my previous post, creates a bias in the media. I don’t see how this can be justified as an appropriate state of the media. Wouldn’t it better better if the media weren’t biased? Apparently, Mr. Abdul-Wahid doesn’t think so, and that’s where I disagree with him.

Some other highlights: Mr. Specktor points out the inherent problems with the media’s sources and complacency with and subservience to authorities. Essentially, he says, the media act as recorders of authority establishments and simply regurgitate whatever they tell them to report on. This is the same argument Herman and Chomsky make in their propaganda model of the media. I was also glad to see the Iranian professor (anyone know who she was?) mention Herman and Chomsky’s work, along with others, including Ben Bagdikian and his research, which I cited in my previous post regarding the dwindling number of corporations in control of the media and the diminishing competition.

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