It Ain't Necessarily So : How the Media Remake Our Picture of Reality

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-10-01
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)

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Anthrax scares. Airplane crashes. The AIDS epidemic. Presidential election polls and voting results. Global warming. All these news stories require scientific savvy, first to report, and then-for the average person-to understand. It Ain't Necessarily Socuts through the confusion and inaccuracies surrounding media reporting of scientific studies, surveys, and statistics. Whether the problem is bad science, media politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge, this book gives news consumers the tools to penetrate the hype and dig out the facts. "Whether it's a scientific study on day care or health care, hunger in America or the environment, once it gets into the hands of journalists - look out! You may think you're getting the straight story - but it ain't necessarily so, as this aptly named book makes clear. But beware: It Ain't Necessarily Somay confirm your worst fears about the media. Which is precisely why it's such an important contribution to our understanding of how things really operate inside the American newsroom." (Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias)

Author Biography

David Murray is director of the Statistical Assessment Service in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Joel Schwartz is senior adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.

S. Robert Lichter is president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. vii
Introduction Making News and Making Sense: The News That's "Fit to Print"p. 1
The Ambiguity of News
The News That isn't There: Stories That Are--and Aren't--Coveredp. 17
Much Ado About Little: Making News Mountains out of Research Molehillsp. 35
The Ambiguity of Measurement
Bait and Switch: Understanding "Tomato" Statisticsp. 57
The Perils of Proxies: Is There a There There?p. 71
Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? A Look at Statistics from Both Sides Nowp. 85
Polls Apart: The Gertrude Stein Approach to Making Sense of Contradictory Surveysp. 97
The Reality and Rhetoric of Risk: Telling It Like It Is--and Isn'tp. 115
Distinguishing "Reports" from Reality: Confusing the Map with the Territoryp. 133
The Ambiguity of Explanation
Blaming the Messenger, Ignoring the Message: Do Motives Matter?p. 147
Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots: The Danger of Hedgehog Interpretationsp. 163
Conclusion: Hard to Tell: Journalism, Science, and Public Policy--An Inherent Conflict?p. 175
Afterword: The Anthrax Feeding Frenzyp. 197
Notesp. 213
Bibliographyp. 251
Indexp. 259
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