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Old 9th August 2004, 05:50 PM   #1
Hans L is offline Hans L  Netherlands
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Question Reliable news sources

Hi all,

I try to follow world news. One of the sources is CNN. You'd think what they air is factual, at least for the simple details, not the opinions which are subjective by definition. Just a few minutes they mentioned on CNN that America delivers 1/3rd of the worlds GDP. I though it was impossible. Checked the CIA factbook like all reporters and experts can do and found these numbers:

World $ 51,410,000,000,000 2003 est.
United States $ 10,980,000,000,000 2003 est.

That's very close to 1/5th.

I they can't get the flippin' details right, what can you believe???

How do you guys make sure the news you receive is even moderately correct?
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Old 9th August 2004, 07:30 PM   #2
Rob M is offline Rob M  United States
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According to the World Bank:

http://www.worldbank.org/data/databytopic/GDP.pdf

the estimated GDP for 2003 (in US$) was:

World $36,356,240,000,000
US $10,881,609,000,000

That's very close to one third.

I think the numbers you're looking at to get 1/5th are the "PPP GDPs", which use a different method for converting national wealth to US dollars:

http://www.worldbank.org/data/databytopic/GDP_PPP.pdf
http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Pur...g_power_parity

Since I don't know what point CNN was trying to make, I don't know which figure is more appropriate. But my guess is that it wouldn't matter much, one way or the other.

As for finding reliable news sources, just read as many different sources as you can, filter what you read through your common sense, and check primary sources whenever possible, and especially when you see dubious details presented as facts. Which sounds like pretty much what you're doing.
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Old 9th August 2004, 08:41 PM   #3
Hans L is offline Hans L  Netherlands
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rob M
According to the World Bank:

http://www.worldbank.org/data/databytopic/GDP.pdf

the estimated GDP for 2003 (in US$) was:

World $36,356,240,000,000
US $10,881,609,000,000

That's very close to one third.

I think the numbers you're looking at to get 1/5th are the "PPP GDPs", which use a different method for converting national wealth to US dollars
That figures.....
Quote:
Since I don't know what point CNN was trying to make, I don't know which figure is more appropriate. But my guess is that it wouldn't matter much, one way or the other.
It wasn't of any importance at all, I was just surprised by the numbers. This is a fine example of a piece of information that seems to be a fact beyond doubt. It shows that even figures are open to debat if the origin isn't explained.
Quote:
As for finding reliable news sources, just read as many different sources as you can, filter what you read through your common sense, and check primary sources whenever possible, and especially when you see dubious details presented as facts. Which sounds like pretty much what you're doing.
I try as much as possible. I was wondering how many do the same, or at least are conscious of the volatile nature of facts.
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Old 9th August 2004, 08:50 PM   #4
SY is offline SY  United States
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Basic rules of thumb: the vast majority of reporters and news organizations don't understand math, science, or economics. The vast majority of readers don't either.

If you ever have a chance, pick up a copy of John Poulos's "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper" and "Innumeracy."
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Old 12th August 2004, 05:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reliable news sources

Quote:
Originally posted by Hans L
Hi all,
I try to follow world news. One of the sources is CNN. -snip -
I for one have not ever turned to CNN for factual reporting. Visual coverage of certain events is terrific...with the sound off. The level of American chauvinism tends to cloud the issues in my eyes, and the bias is dreadful.

Living close to the American border, we get a lot of channels from the States. The difference in the way the USA and say, the Canadian Broacasting Corporation deliver the news is remarkable.

The Americans tend to have high profile, pretty looking people delivering the news with big white smiles and an air of excitement. ie: the bubble-headed bleach blonde, who tells you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. (excuse the Don Henley paraphrasing)

The Canadians are somewhat paled by our southern counterparts. We have a bald, uninteresting sounding guy heading up our national news. He gives you the news and little more. There's no sideshow act.

The same story covered by CNN and the CBC can be quite different. As far as accuracy goes, I think I'll stick with the bald, uninteresting guy, he seems so much more trustworthy than does the Barnum and Bailey, I mean CNN service.

My thoughts on the news

Cal
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Old 15th August 2004, 02:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Re: Reliable news sources

Quote:
Originally posted by Cal Weldon

The Americans tend to have high profile, pretty looking people delivering the news with big white smiles and an air of excitement....
Well, it's about to get worse. Due to the ratings success of Fox News, CNN and others are hatching plans to come up with more "personality driven" methods of delivering the news. In other words, even more glitz.

I must be an exception down here, because I have never understood this loyalty toward individual newspeople that people have. They discuss how much they like or they trust one newsperson or another, without realizing the obvious fact that the person they are talking about is just someone in the studio who reads reports others have written. They don't get those reports, or have any greater understanding of those reports, than the viewer. The "anchor" person is just one small part of an entire organization. Yet people develop relatoinships with them, both on the local and the national level.
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Old 15th August 2004, 02:22 PM   #7
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One example of the effect of news personalities goes all the way back to the seventies. At one time, Barbara Walters was all over the front pages and newspaper columns because she had switched networks for some record amount of money. During this period, she had an interview with Anwar Sadat, the head of Egypt. Midway through this interview, Sadat congratulated Walters for her much publicized new network job. True, it was only a sentence or two, but still. It's not like he started off with a perfunctory congratulations before getting into the heart of the interview. He dropped it in the middle, when the big issues were being discussed.

Here's a world leader in a tinderbox area, and he's taking time to congratulate American newspeople for their network career moves. Astonishing.

By the way, I really have a whole problem with the concept of getting news from the TV instead of a print medium. TV news is like a cassette tape-you have to sit and watch the entire program unfold before you, with little chance to pick and choose individual stories for further examination. A good newspaper like the New York Times is like a CD-you can easily skip stories of no interest to you, and focus just on the ones you want.
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Old 15th August 2004, 02:29 PM   #8
SY is offline SY  United States
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Default Baba Wawa

When it comes to understanding the issues that she interviews people about, she's as dumb as a box of rocks.

Remember when she was a big promoter of Uri Geller? She would talk about how he completely changed her life. She was QUITE silent about those life-changes after his exposure as a fraud.
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Old 14th September 2004, 01:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Baba Wawa

Quote:
Originally posted by kelticwizard
By the way, I really have a whole problem with the concept of getting news from the TV instead of a print medium. TV news is like a cassette tape-you have to sit and watch the entire program unfold before you, with little chance to pick and choose individual stories for further examination. A good newspaper like the New York Times is like a CD-you can easily skip stories of no interest to you, and focus just on the ones you want.
I agree, but as with most/all news media (Paper, TV, and Radio), the outright bias of just about all of them, has made it hard to take any of them seriously.


Quote:
Originally posted by SY
When it comes to understanding the issues that she interviews people about, she's as dumb as a box of rocks.
Remember when she was a big promoter of Uri Geller? She would talk about how he completely changed her life. She was QUITE silent about those life-changes after his exposure as a fraud.
Having worked in the Industry, I can tell you that the anchors ("Talent") are, to a man/woman, some of the dumbest, most shallow people I've ever met. I am so glad to be out of that field!

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Old 15th September 2004, 04:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by SY
Basic rules of thumb: the vast majority of reporters and news organizations don't understand math
<snip>
If a recent court case is anything to go by, neither do some of the UK medical profession.
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