Playing Zookeeper

This interview with Jon Stewart on the NPR program Fresh Air illustrates exactly why so many of us trust the Daily Show analysis of the news more than any of the commercial media outlets.

But I have become increasingly unnerved by the depth of corruption that exists at many different levels. I’m less upset with politicians than the media. I feel like politicians – the way I explain it, is when you go to a zoo and a monkey throws feces, it’s a monkey. But when the zookeeper is standing right there and he doesn’t say, ‘Bad monkey’ – somebody’s gotta be the zookeeper.

Stewart, the correspondents, and their writers may be doing fake news, but it’s genuine, honest analysis.

Winning at the SAT Game

Sound advice (and some far-too-close-to-reality satire) about the SAT and test prep companies from last night’s Colbert Report.

If you take enough of their math classes [Princeton Review], you may even learn their formula for turning children’s fear into cash.

Some English teachers may not want to hear what Stephen has to say about essays.

How To Be An Expert Without Actually Knowing Anything

By way of io9, the geeky science fiction (or is that redundant? :-) blog, comes The Evil Futurists’ Guide to World Domination: How to be Successful, Famous, and Wrong.

So what advice do they offer for those who want to have a career in spouting predictive BS?

Be certain, not right.
… no matter what you do, no matter what you believe, be certain. As Tetlock put it, in this world “only the overconfident survive, and only the truly arrogant thrive.”

Sounds like advice for anyone running for public office as well.


Claim to be an expert: it makes people’s brains hurt.

And research proves it!

No expertise, no problem.
… knowing you’re not an expert should make you more confident in your work. And confidence is everything.

One simple idea may be one too many.
Having a single big theory, even if it’s totally outrageous, makes you sound more credible. Having a Great Idea also makes it easier for you to seem like a Great Visionary, capable of seeing things that others cannot.

Get prizes for being outrageous.

Does calling something “award winning” have any meaning these days?

There’s a success hiding in every failure.

Don’t remember your failures. No one else will.

Fact checking is a lost art that desperately needs to be revived.

The author claims “The citations are all real. But no, I don’t really mean a single word of it.”.

I’m not so sure. Maybe he will in the future.

Image: Future City by ILMO JOE, used under a Creative Commons license.

The Way It’s Supposed to be Done

If you want to see one of the best examples of journalism on television in a long time, skip past all the broadcast networks, talking heads channels, and especially Fox “News”.

Go watch Jon Stewart’s interview with financial talking head/showman Jim Cramer from last night’s Daily Show.

Unlike way too many people in the TV news business, Stewart was well prepared (whoever logs video for the DS deserves a large raise), asked very relevant questions, and refused to allow Cramer to BS his way out of answering them.

At the end, Stewart expressed his desire to downplay this assertive role (“Was that as uncomfortable for you to watch as it was for me to do?”) and return to making fart noises and funny faces.

I hope he doesn’t. At least not until the real news organizations are willing to step up and do their jobs,

Well, ok, maybe not the whole time.

I’m sure no Daily Show fan will mind if he throws in a few puns and jokes of questionable taste along with the great interviews.