New York Times headline stirs the blood!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017

How to gin tribal war:
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! The headline on the Times news report spoke about Us and Them:

"Democrats Think Men Have It Easier. Republicans Disagree."

Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Over here, We think one way. Over there, They think another!

That headline tops Claire Cain Miller's on-line report for the brainiac Times blog, The Upshot. This morning, the same headline topped Miller's report on page A15 in our hard-copy Times.

(The graphics you see in the on-line report didn't appear in the hard-copy Times.)

Sadly, that headline is highly misleading. Headline included, here you see the first two paragraphs of Miller's report:
MILLER (10/18/17): Democrats Think Men Have It Easier. Republicans Disagree.

Whether or not people think it’s a good time to be a woman or a man in the United States depends largely on their political party, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

More than two-thirds of Democrats say the country needs to do more to give women equal rights, compared with only a quarter of Republicans who say that, the Pew report found. Meanwhile, half of Democrats say men have it easier these days, compared with 19 percent of Republicans.
Oops! In actual point of fact, only 49% of Democrats answered that murkily-rendered question in the murkily-rendered way that headline describes!

Let's take a look at the record. In the actual survey, 49% of Democrats said they think that "men have it easier," whatever exactly that means.

Miller rounded that off to "half." In the headline, it was simply (and dumbly) said that "Democrats" hold that view!

In this way, the New York Times managed to turn "half" of Democrats into something that sounds like all! We Democrats think that men have it easier. Over There, Those People do not!

Seriously. What the fungk goes through the head of a journalist—a New York Times editor, no less—who composes a headline like that? Is he or she mesmerized by Rachel's Cialis ads, like the nation's best magazine writer?

For the record, performance like this suffuses the Times on a daily basis. In passing, might we make a few comments?

Miller's report is almost completely worthless. Due to the fuzzy questions asked of respondents, so is this whole Pew survey, on which she was reporting.

Having said that, let us also say this. In this silly presentation by the Times, we're looking at the eternal "human" desire to manufacture the appearance of essential tribal difference.

According to the Pew report, respondents were asked this question:

"All things considered, who do you think has it easier these days—men or women?"

Apparently, respondents were offered a third possible answer: "No difference." This is the way the numbers turned out:
Who has it easier these days?
Democratic respondents:

Men: 49 percent
No difference: 45 percent
Women: 6 percent

Republican respondents:
Men: 19 percent
No difference: 68 percent
Women: 12 percent
Without any doubt, responses by the two groups of respondents weren't exactly the same. On the other hand, it isn't like all Democrats thought X while all Republicans thought Y, the way that Times headline suggests.

In fact, responses by the two groups were more alike than different. We base this assessment on our own award-winning statistic, the internationally-acclaimed "dinner party metric."

Suppose you're holding a large dinner party. You'll be hosting two hundred guests—one hundred from each party.

If you were seating pairs of guests based on their answers to this question, you could match seventy Republicans with Democrats who had given the same answer. This would include all 19 Republicans who said "women;" 45 of the Republicans who said "no difference;" and six of the Republicans who said "men."

You would only have to seat thirty couples whose responses had differed. In their responses, the two parties agreed more than they disagreed—until you read that pitiful headline in the New York Times.

Let's review. Miller turned 49 percent into "half." A headline writer then turned "half" into the appearance of "all."

Readers glancing at that headline got a familiar warm glow. Our Tribe thinks one thing, Their Tribe thinks another! Yay yay yay yay yay!

We liberals got to feel wonderfully good, knowing how wrong They are. Low-IQ performance of this type suffuses the work of the New York Times, where writers may still be mesmerized by last night's Cialis ads, or perhaps by a certain someone's performance of the Rachel figure.

"Her performance of the Rachel figure?" Boy howdy! More on that bullship tomorrow.

28 comments:

  1. How about these stats (as of September 2017):
    "Fox News has now posted 63 consecutive quarters as the highest-rated cable news network among total viewers (averaging 1.4 million for the total day and 2.2 million in prime), and five consecutive quarters as the top network in both prime time and total day (total viewers)."
    63 QUARTERS IN A ROW! (That's over 15 YEARS.) Shhh...let's not discuss here at TDH.

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    1. Bob's column is directly relevant. The crappy work that Bob criticizes on liberal cable stations is one reason why they're less popular than Fox News.

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    2. Nah. There are just far more mindless right-wingers, willing to watch Fox exclusively and lap up the swill they peddle.

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    3. The amazing thing about that stat to me is - how few people watch TV. Take the 2.2 million in prime and assume it's a different 2.2 million for each of the 4 hours.

      Even with that generous assumption that is still only 8.8 million viewers. There are over 60 million Trump voters (and a whole bunch of non-voters too in this country of 310 million.)

      We have this notion that "Trump voters are all brainwashed by Fox News." and yet more than 80% of Trump voters are not watching it.

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    4. Dr. T: I live in a southern red state. Invariably, when you go to a bar or restaurant or store with a TV on, they are showing Fox, NEVER MSNBC. I doubt that the viewer numbers reflect the actual number of viewers. That number comes from Nielsen respondents.

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  2. Note the economy. A single article can not only promote bad feelings between Dems and Reps, it can also promote bad feelings between men and women.

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    1. David, no article can promote bad feelings between you and me.

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    2. Thank you for that nice comment, Caesar. And, on my birthday.

      I feel friendly to you and to all the liberal commenters here, even those who criticize me.

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  3. It is accurate to say that Republicans are less aware of gender based disparities than Republicans. Republicans like to think women are equal now, just as they like to think racism is gone, there is no global warming, etc. If you don't recognize a problem you don't have to do anything about it.

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    1. You have a point, 9:49. At least for some Republicans.

      However, many Republicans don't think things are perfect, but we do think that some proposed remedies are worse then the problem they address. E.g., my understanding is that the Obama/EPA plan that Trump recently dumped would have done almost nothing to ameliorate global warming, but would have done considerable harm to the economy.

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    2. I don’t think that’s why more republicans think there is gender equity when there isn’t.

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  4. Somerby really missed the point. The stats are about whose sense of reality is more distorted. Thinking women and men have equal lives when they don’t is the problem and it is a problem in both parties.

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    1. Unfortunately, as any serious readers on this site can attest, Somerby has no apparent problem with gender inequality, as evidenced by his incessant and hugely lopsided and snarky attacks on female journalists. In fact, if one believed that such people existed, one might conclude that the whole team of "analysts" would have to be just a bunch of whiny misogynists and nitpickers.

      And by the way, watching this man's careful analysis (I've been here for 17 years) decay from being that of one of the soundest thinkers on-line into daily snarkfest, obsessed with minutia, replete with strongly unbalanced attacks on almost arbitrary targets (except there, of course, is bias toward younger females). And worst of all, this bewildering Chamberlainian appeasement is sad and I'm afraid it's sending me and others away.

      I've read about 95% of the columns ever posted on this site and don't recall Bob ever making the case for how this nitpicking of moderate and progressive journalistic presentations will help our nation prevail. It's absurd to think that if a journalist resists calling 49% "half" that something good will come of that utterly meaningless change. When the deranged man in power has told thousands of blatant lies, has signed several mean-spirited executive orders and is promising to sign bills aimed at draining middle class wallets directly into the bulging bank vaults of a small oligarchy he is clearly endangering the future of our nation. Bob's nitpicking of reasonable presentations of statistics and obsessing with imperfect but passionate and effective journalists like Ashley Parker, is making me depart.

      This is my first entry although I did exchanged a small number of emails with Bob when that was the preferred form of communication. I wish Bob and all the rest of you the best.

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    2. Sad but true. He does make a valid and worthwhile point now and again.

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    3. Dude, I agree with you. I've been reading this blog since the late 90's, but only commenting here since a few months ago. In the beginning he was so insightful, pushing back against the media's war against B. Clinton and Gore. He still has moments of his old self, as Greg says. But quite often he cites some fluff piece from the style section as evidence of the decline of journalism (most frequently of the New York Times), when there must be dozens of serious news stories in that same paper that he chooses to ignore. Or, yes, he chastises some reporter for saying "half" instead of 49%, an utterly inconsequential critique in the face of much larger issues.
      Somerby self-identifies as a liberal. He asks us to recognize the crazy in our tribe as well as the other tribe, to be more generous in dealing with them, not to stereotype or call them names. Those are good suggestions, perfectly valid. But then he proceeds to ignore his own advice and call liberals stupid, failures etc. And I don't see how those insults improve our discourse or how they improve the liberal media or how they improve liberal politicians. It seems counterproductive. He asks us to think before we speak (I'm thinking about his posts about LeBron James or Kathy Griffin), again a reasonable request, but his approach to this runs the risk of inhibiting the free speech of the people he's criticizing.

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    4. Dude and Anon 10:46 -- Bob didn't criticize calling 49% "half" in a vacuum. He said his problem was a headline that implicitly called 49% "all".

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    5. David, it's still such a nitpick. The article clearly gives the numbers: 49% compared to 19%. Unless you only intend to read the headline, I think you can figure out what is meant. (In this case, far more Democrats than Republicans feel this way). A headline is usually shorthand; you read the article for the details. And Somerby's tortured example of the dinner party to calculate that 49 minus 19 equals 30 is comical: 30 percentage po

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    6. Sorry. The last part should have read:
      30 percentage points is a significant difference.

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    7. And, David, I certainly hope that you demand the same level of precision from Fox News, or investor.com editorials, or wherever you get your news.

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    8. "I'm afraid it's sending me and others away."

      That'll be the day.



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    9. Hmm. It almost seems as if Somerby is playing dumb to convince the rubes out there that the liberal media is stupid and corrupt. Perhaps he's concocted a persona, the "Somerby figure" if you like, to feign dumbness and outrage.

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  5. David, it's still such a nitpick. The article clearly gives the numbers: 49% compared to 19%. Unless you only intend to read the headline, I think you can figure out what is meant. (In this case, far more Democrats than Republicans feel this way). A headline is usually shorthand; you read the article for the details. And Somerby's tortured example of the dinner party to calculate that 49 minus 19 equals 30 is comical: 30 percentage points is a significant difference.

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    1. If 30 percentage points is a significant difference, then isn't 70 percentage points ALSO significant? A significant sameness?

      The glass is 70% full and the headline declares it is empty.

      The article clearly gives the numbers, but after the headline, aren't the numbers just there to reinforce the idea that there is a huge difference?

      However significant 30% is, I am gonna assert that it is less significant than 70% and also not equal to 100%.

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    2. Dr. T: If 49,000,000 people believe one thing and 19,000,000 people believe a second thing, that's 30,000,000 more people who believe the first thing. I'm glad that you are smart enough to know that 30 < 70 < 100, but it doesn't change the fact that 49 is 257% more than 19.

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  6. Somerby wrote a while back about how Comey was given God status because of his supposed objectivity and fairness, then he deliberately sabotaged Clinton's campaign.

    Now Kelly is suffering the same fate. He seemed like a reasonable influence in the White House, getting rid of the flakes and loose cannons and trying to teach Trump how to be presidential. Now we see that he is just another flunky, lying for Trump and expressing weird views on command to shore up Trump's lies. How the mighty keep falling.

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  7. "Our Tribe thinks one thing, Their Tribe thinks another! Yay yay yay yay yay!"

    Does Somerby really think there are no differences in beliefs and attitudes between Democrats and Republicans.

    When he says yay yay yay I want to do violence to him. None of us think it is a good thing that Republicans think the way they do. None of us like it that there are people as wrong-headed as most Republicans with the ability to screw up our country and hurt the most vulnerable among us.

    Somerby thinks we should cut Republicans some slack. Why does he think this? It isn't because he thinks we will find some common ground, some way to work together. Republicans don't want that and it isn't going to happen. So, no, we don't say yay yay yay when another Republican says something stupid.

    I agree with Dude and I don't know how much more of Somerby's crap I can take.

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  8. AnonymousOctober 20, 2017 at 11:24 AM -- I will agree that the headline, "Democrats Think Men Have It Easier" really means "MOST Democrats Think Men Have It Easier." I have no problem with that understanding.

    The trouble is, that's wrong. According to the survey. most Democrats (51%) do NOT think men have it easier. Only 49% of Dems think men have it easier.

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    1. You don't get to posit that the word is "most" and then call it wrong. The word to use is "more".

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