Getting it wrong is suddenly hot stuff – wrongology and news about bogus trends

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Media critic Jack Shafer on Slate.com writes about, “A Midsummer’s Stew of Bogus Trends: Robo tripping, digital drugs, temporary dropouts, and subway hogs.” Excerpt:

” “[T]here is much to be said in favour of modern journalism,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”

I think of Wilde’s words every time I carve a column out of the bogus trend story nominees submitted almost daily by readers and friends. The bogus trend story inflates the specific into the general, frightens the timid, exploits the guileless, and insults the intelligence of the wise. It is the journalism of grunts and moans, of unchecked stupidity and laziness, and wherever it appears it shrinks the collective IQ.

The leading offender in today’s column is an item on the blog of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. The piece, “Parents Be Warned: Your Kids May Be ‘Robo Tripping,’ ” (July 8) warns that there’s a drug trend among kids called “Robo tripping,” in which they consume great quantities of dextromethorphan–an active agent in some cough syrups.”

Read more about Shafer’s criticism of Gupta and of other trends reported by following the link above.

Being wrong is getting a lot of attention lately.

cover_myths.jpg6a00d8341bf70f53ef0133f204d526970b-120wi.jpgJoe McCarthy, on his Gumption blog, had a fantastic summary of stuff he’s seen under the umbrella of “wrongology” – “All models, studies and Wikipedia entries are wrong, some are useful.” In this piece, he cites Kathryn Schulz (author of “Being Wrong”), Kent Bottles, another Sanjay Gupta story (that I had written about), Susannah Fox, Gilles Frydman, and W. Joseph Campbell’s terrific book, “Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism.”

Read the entire Gumption piece. It’s a gold mine of wrongology.

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