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All the papaganda medias in Singapore practise misinformation to deliberately mislead audiences and here are some examples how they do it

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  • Robert Ho
    Public should be more vigilant against misleading rather than false
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2013

      Public should be more vigilant against misleading rather than false statements

      ST

      1. SPH Journalist Tessa Wong wrote an article titled “Navigating the Maze” published in the ST on Sat July 27 2013.

      2. In the article, Ms Wong begins by saying, “Online posts that spread misinformation have heightened concerns over how this can cause panic and erode trust in public institutions”.

      3. Ms Wong provided “a check-list to help sort out fact [truth] from fiction [falsehoods, lies]“. [my insert]

      4. However, Ms Wong did a significant disfavour to the readership of ST by not pointing out and not focusing instead on the fact that it does not require a lie or fabrication to ‘mislead’ (writer ‘giving the wrong idea or impression’ to reader).

      5. The reason for is twofold: the narrow definition of a lie and the existence of a wide spectrum of tools available for one to mislead others without using any flat-out lies or fabrication.

      6. Firstly, a “lie” can be narrowly defined as “a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally”.

      7. Two key conditions, in the narrow reading of a ‘lie’, must be satisfied to prove a statement is a lie: the statement must be unquestionably false and the speaker also knew the statement to be false.

      8. Hence, it is difficult to prove someone is lying simply because it is harder to determine ‘intent’ of the speaker (or if speaker knew statement is false), as compared to the ‘truthfulness’ of the speaker’s statement.

      9. Secondly, there exists a wide array of tools that can be exploited, without giving any false statements, to put out misleading statements.

      10. Some of the more common tools include: ‘Straw-man fallacy’, ‘Economy with the Truth’ and ‘Understatement’.

      11. The general outline of a straw man fallacy (read here) is as shown below:

      1. Person 1 has position X.

      2. Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y.

      The position Y is a distorted version of X and can be set up in several ways, including:

      Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent’s position.

      Quoting an opponent’s words out of context—i.e., choosing quotations that misrepresent the opponent’s actual intentions (see fallacy of quoting out of context).

      Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then refuting that person’s arguments—thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated.

      Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs which are then criticized, implying that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.

      Oversimplifying an opponent’s argument, then attacking this oversimplified version.

      3. Person 2 attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed.

      This reasoning is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position does not address the actual position.

      [snip]

      Person 2 relies on the audience not noticing this.

      12. A recent and striking example of a straw-man fallacy can be found in the recent debate over “PSI taking into account of PM2.5″ between Netizen Jack and MEWR, a public institution.

      13. Netizen Jack wrote an article titled “NEA smokes Singaporeans with dinosaur-age PSI readings” that was published in TR Emeritus on 22 June 2013. Read here.

      14. MEWR published a rebuttal “PSI Readings On NEA’s Website Do Take PM2.5 Into Account” on 24 June 2013. Read here.

      15. The Straw-man fallacy thus goes like this: Netizen Jack will be person 1 with position X while MEWR will be person 2 with position Y.

      16. MEWR stated that Netizen Jack’s position Y of

      “PSI readings on NEA’s website do not take into account PM2.5 but are based solely on PM10″,

      is false because

      “PM2.5, which refers to particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns, is in fact a subset of PM10. If the level of particles 2.5 microns or smaller increases, this will be reflected in the levels of both PM2.5 and PM10. Therefore, a rise in PM2.5 levels will also be reflected in the PSI as it is a subset of PM10, which is a component in PSI.”

      17. MEWR’s explanation for making the argument in (16) can be isolated into three key sections:

      17.1 PM2.5 is a particulate size subset of PM10. (technically correct)
      17.2 PM10 is a component of PSI. (factually correct)
      17.3 Thus, PSI takes into account PM2.5 because a rise in PM2.5 will cause a rise in PM10. (technically and scientifically correct)

      18. MEWR did not make any scientific and technical falsehoods in the above explanation (17) for why MEWR claimed Netizen Jack’s position Y is allegedly false.

      19. However, MEWR’s focus on particulate sizes and size subset is unwarranted and a distraction because Netizen Jack did [NOT] claim that “PM2.5, [snip], is in fact [NOT] a subset of PM10 [in terms of particulate size].” [my insertion and emphasis]

      20. In addition, Netizen Jack wrote that “PM10 is also called “respirable suspended particle” or RSP since RSP are particles with a diameter of up to 10 µm.”, and also that “PM2.5 (pronounced “P M two point five”) as in Particulate Matter up to 2.5 µm in size… [snip]“.

      21. There is no disagreement over particulate size classification and size subsets, to begin with.

      22. The context of the phrase “take into account” in Netizen Jack’s article is critical.

      23. Netizen Jack made several and consistent references to how the AQI “takes into account” [incorporates, includes] PM2.5 as compared to the PSI which does not.

      “Singapore’s PSI is based on an American model developed in the late 60’s. In 1999, with advances in technology and knowledge, the Americansreplaced the PSI with the Air Quality Index (AQI) to incorporate new PM2.5 and ozone standards.”

      “Chinese AQI interprets data somewhat less stringently than the American AQI, but it is still way better than the relic which is the PSI for the simple reason that the AQI incorporates PM2.5 whereas the PSI does not.”

      Netizen Jack wrote and emphasized in the conclusion that,

      “The American AQI is the gold standard for air quality indicators. It [AQI] takes into account hazardous PM2.5 particulates on an hourly basis and interprets the data stringently.”

      24. Hence, taken as a whole, Netizen Jack was clearly referring to how the AQI takes into account PM2.5 as a separate component or sub-index, when compared to the PSI which does not have PM2.5 as a separate component or sub-index.

      25. Netizen Jack’s “Taking PM2.5 into account” is not a standalone phrase and shouldn’t be picked apart from the article’s consistent context.

      26. Netizen Jack’s “Taking PM2.5 into account” has embedded, by context, the concept of “Taking PM2.5 in account as a sub-index and as a component”, based on the multiple references to how AQI differs from the PSI in the inclusion, incorporation and taking account of PM2.5 (as a sub-index).

      There’s no other way to interpret this because the key difference between the PSI and AQI is how PM2.5 is included as a sub-index or separate component of AQI.

      27. Netizen Jack’s (Person 1) real position is X: arguing for the ‘inclusion, incorporation and taking account of PM2.5 (as a sub-index, there’s no other way to interpret this) like the AQI, as opposed of the PSI which does not have PM2.5 as a component.’

      28. Netizen Jack’s real position X is confirmed later by Netizen Jack again (Read here) and pointed out by other Netizen Peter (Read here).

      29. MEWR has remained silent ever since the publication of the two articles (28) and has not made any further replies on this matter.

      30. In other words, MEWR oversimplified Netizen Jack’s real position X, and also quoted Netizen Jack out of context.

      31. MEWR (Person 2) disregards certain key points of real position X and instead presents another superficially similar position Y of Netizen Jack: “PSI does not take into account PM2.5″…

      [omission: ... specifically as a sub-index or separate component like the AQI]

      32. MEWR (Person 2) attacks the above distorted position Y (31), concluding that X (27) is false/incorrect/flawed, by offering the explanation that “PM2.5 is a subset in terms of particulate size of the component PM10″ (16).

      33. The above analysis (11)-(32) is a recent example of a ‘Straw-man Fallacy’.

      34..The second tool of misinformation is ‘Economy with the Truth’ (Read here):

      “Economical with the truth [snip] literally describes a careful use of facts so as not to reveal too much information.”

      35. MEWR omitted any mention of AQI in its statement despite multiple and clear references to the AQI by Netizen Jack calling for “PM2.5 to be taken into account, just like the AQI of US and China, as opposed to the current PSI”.

      36. If the important context of AQI were hypothetically included in MEWR’s statement on 24 June 2013, then MEWR’s straw-man fallacy becomes untenable.

      37. Another SPH journalist Grace Chua later wrote in the ST on 8 July 2013, “Why PM2.5 matters when measuring air pollution”. Read here. She wrote:

      “However, PM2.5 and its hazards could be [better communicated]. While the Pollutant Standards Index does include PM2.5 as a subset of PM10, or all particles smaller than 10 microns in size, the fraction of PM2.5 within PM10 may vary. Two PM10 readings may both be “100 micrograms per cubic metre” and produce the same PSI value. But one may be 90 per cent PM2.5, while the other 20 per cent PM2.5 – with very different health effects.”

      38. The above public revelation is at least a partial vindication of the position of the Netizens; moreover, it is absurd to suggest MEWR is not aware of this simple fact above when MEWR released its statement on 24 June 2013.

      39. I agree with Ms Chua’s above statement on the shortcomings of relying on ‘MEWR’s official position on PM2.5 as a size subset of PM10′ (16)-(17), due to the different fractions of PM2.5 possible within PM10.

      40. That said, Ms Chua also attempted at the same time to defend MEWR’s statement by downplaying MEWR’s statement as “communication that could be bettered”.

      41. In this case, Ms Chua made an ‘understatement’: the ‘third tool’ one can use to put out misleading statements.

      42. No, Ms Chua. The issue of ‘PM2.5 and its actual contribution to the PSI’ was not a case of ‘poor communication by MEWR’ as explained away and downplayed by Ms Chua.

      43. Rather, this specifically was a case of this public institution becoming too defensive and too eager to counter alleged misinformation, for the sake of appearing to be authoritative on all the facts, using the tools of ‘Straw-man fallacy’ and ‘Economy with the truth’.

      44. The alleged correction of misinformation with information can possibly turn out to be a case of information being distorted by misinformation: the public should be vigilant against all forms of misinformation.

      Passthespin

      * The author blogs at http://passthespin.wordpress.com.


      --
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