Special Meetup: Media Bias, Hate Hoaxes & Terrorism Panics

This is a past event

5 people went

Good Karma Cafe

928 Pine St · Philadelphia

How to find us

We've reserved the private room off to the side. Ask the staff if you can't find it.

Location image of event venue

Details

I've shifted our discussion to the Good Karma Café near the corner of 10th & Pine in Washington Square West neighborhood, since several of our members recommended it as a quieter alternative to some of the bars & restaurants we've used in the past. It's fairly easy to get to if you're using public transit. With SEPTA, take the Broad Street Line & get off at the Lombard South Station, and walk 2 blocks east on Lombard and then turn left on 10th street and it's up a half block. With PATCO, it's a bit more of a hike - get off at 15th & Locust stop and walk 6 blocks east on Locust to 10th, then turn right and walk 2 blocks south. For those who are driving, parking in the neighborhood can be tough to find. I'd suggest parking in the parking deck connected to the ACME at 10th & South. If you buy at least $10 worth of groceries from ACME, they'll validate your parking so it's free.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

MEDIA BIAS, HATE HOAXES & TERRORISM PANICS

I wasn't able to fit everything I wanted to cover into our meetup on "The Fuzzy Epistemology of Ideological Violence" last weekend, so I decided to schedule another meetup to specifically address the news media's selective, and often sensational, coverage of hate crimes, terrorism & other forms of political violence. Can we detect any biases in the media's coverage of the various types of political violence, and is so what are they? What factors can cause a reporter to neglect due diligence and report on an alleged hate crime that turns out to be a hoax? What are the motives that feed into "media circuses" and "moral panics"? How does widespread media coverage of outrageous but statistically uncommon dangers like hate crimes & terrorist attacks effect the public's risk perception and level of trust?

These questions will be analyzed through a variety of lenses. We'll discuss the cognitive biases known as the "ultimate attribution error", "confirmation bias" and "availability heuristic", the statistical fallacy known as "base rate neglect", and the sociological framework known as "integrated threat theory".

What you see below is the finalized list of articles we'll discuss. As usual, I don't expect anyone to read all of the links I've listed below. Please just try to read one article or watch one video from each section to get a general idea, and we'll cover the rest of the material you missed during the discussion. I'm going to add some notes beneath each article summarizing its main points on Saturday, so it will be pretty easy to look at these notes and get a general sense of what all of these articles are saying without having to read them all.

NOTE: For those who might be interested, this meetup will be followed immediately afterward by another discussion with a similar topic - the debate between the New Atheists & Regressive Left on the question of whether or not Islam is inherently violent: https://www.meetup.com/Philly-Skeptics/events/239823263/

SELECTIVE COVERAGE & DOUBLE STANDARDS IN REPORTING ON HATE CRIMES, TERRORISM & RIOTS:

1) Nemi Dalal, "How Media Fuels Our Fear of Terrorism" (medium length article)
https://priceonomics.com/our-fixation-on-terrorism/

2) Jonah Goldberg, "Why Journalists Always Tap The Break On Terrorism Stories" (medium length article)
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443302/journalism-terrorism-hate-crime-double-standard

3) Robert Greenwald, "Why Charleston Shooter Isn't Being Called A Terrorist: White Riots vs Black Protests" (2:53 min.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGJMgCn0fQs

4) German Lopez, "The viral anti-Trump attack video from Chicago, explained" (medium length article)
http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/1/5/14176650/chicago-torture-video-trump

MOTIVES & SOCIAL DYNAMICS BEHIND HATE CRIME HOAXES & TERRORISM PANICS - FOLK DEVILS, COMMON ENEMIES & POLITICAL RORSCHACH TESTS:

5) Glenn Greenwald & Murtaza Hussein, "The Fake Terror Threat Used to Justify Bombing Syria" (medium length article)

https://theintercept.com/2014/09/28/u-s-officials-invented-terror-group-justify-bombing-syria/

6) Dan McLaughlin, "Hate Crime Hoaxes Strike Again, Anti-Semitic Bomb Threats Edition" (short article)

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/446035/anti-semitic-bomb-threats-hate-crimes-hoax

7) Martin Innes, et al., "Ten 'Rs' of social reaction: Using social media to analyse the 'post-event' impacts of the murder of Lee Rigby" (long research paper)

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09546553.2016.1180289

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF SKEWED REPORTING ON VIOLENCE - THE AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC, ULTIMATE ATTRIBUTION ERROR & INTEGRATED THREAT THEORY:

8) Drake Baer, "The Bias That Explains Why Americans Fear Terrorism More Than Guns" (short article)

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/01/why-americans-are-so-scared-of-terrorism.html

9) Lloyd Stires, "The Ultimate Attribution Error" (blog post, refers to study by Michael Morris & Kaiping Peng)

http://thinkingslowlyblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/ultimate-attribution-error.html

10) Amanda Taub, "A Social Reflex: Police and Blacks, Seeing Threat, Close Ranks" (short article)
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/13/us/police-shootings-race.html?_r=0

SHOULD THERE BE LESS REPORTING ON RARE FORMS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE? SINCE TERRORIST ATTACKS KILL FEW AMERICANS IN MOST YEARS, IS REPORTING ON THEM COMPARABLE TO REPORTING EVERY DEATH FROM FREAK ACCIDENTS LIKE BATHTUB DROWNINGS?

11) Jesse Singal, "Maybe the Media Shouldn't Cover Every Single Hate Crime Threat" (short article)
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/maybe-media-shouldnt-cover-every-single-hate-crime-threat.html

12a) Yuval Noah Harari, "Fear-mongers are more dangerous than terrorists" (short video, 2:11 min.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs60jmQ6I54

12b) Yuval Noah Harari, "The Theatre of Terror" (short article)

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/31/terrorism-spectacle-how-states-respond-yuval-noah-harari-sapiens

13) Justin Fox, "Stop Telling Me How Dangerous My Bathtub Is" (short article)
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/stop-telling-me-how-dangerous-my-bathtub-is?