Walking the Talk (show)

Here’s an interesting example of how comedy and celebrity can provoke real positive change in society through hard-hitting investigative yet engaging discussions.

This article affectionately calls it the John Oliver Effect. I personally find his videos riveting and intriguing. Unsettling analogies aside, his creative and well-paced attempts to unpack and analyze issues for the viewer is laudable.

The Distorted Face of Terrorism

A colleague once told me that arguments were based on beliefs, and beliefs were based on facts. The problem is that what is ‘fact’ can so often be wholly inaccurate, especially in our media-saturated environment where facts could simply be what is more commonly reported.

So therein lies a likely root cause for flawed arguments: inaccurate facts. 

Case in point: the argument that stamping out terrorism lies in targeted measures concerning Muslims, which is based on a belief that Islam as a religion somehow promotes violence as a justifiable means to an end, which is based on the ‘fact’ that most terrorist attack are committed by Muslims.

Well, as this article points out, most terrorist attack aren’t actually committed by Muslims. A Europol report states that less than 2% of terror attacks in 2013 were committed by Muslims while an FBI study looking at terrorism committed in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005 found that only about 6% of attacks were committed by Muslims.

It just seems like most terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims because such attacks receive disproportionately more attention from the media, reigniting narratives on the clash between the West and Middle East again.

So, the next time we offer arguments, let’s critically consider whether the beliefs and facts they rest on are sound.

The Age of Empire.com

Look at the map below from from the Oxford Internet Institute’s Information Geographies blog that shows most visited websites by country. What do you observe?

While the world wide web is broadly accessible, this representation suggest some correlation between country politics, culture and their influence on the web behavior of their citizens. Notice Google’s dominance and places where is also doesn’t have much of a stronghold.

Clearly in any essay point talking about the impact of web, this sort of maps help us avoid making overgeneralized statements about the prevalent influence of certain websites and give us some angle to differentiate the impacts on certain contexts.

Facebook and Happiness

This Scientific American article on a study that suggests a correlation between Facebook and higher levels of unhappiness does a pretty balanced job of evaluating the merits and flaws of the study’s findings. This paragraph below sums it the article’s concluding remarks on the study after discussing its limitations:

Despite these limitations, the study addresses a pressing question about the way our social lives are structured, and provides some intriguing evidence that social interaction online may be associated with reduced well-being. The internet is not going anywhere, and as the proportion of people connected to the web rises, so too does its importance as central part of our social world.

Notice the words in bold (mine) that illustrate how the article employs a series of connectors, adjectives and verbs to argue for the importance of the study’s impacts even though its methodology had several shortcomings.

Innovation of Loneliness

I know there exists a copious amount of literature out there that discusses how social media has the ironic effect on making us lonely but this video illustrates the argument beautifully. The demands of social networks force us into highly edited personal promotion with superficial semblances of extensive friendships and a compulsive need to ‘like’ and ‘share’ to feel connected.