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Tags domestic violence , gender issues , Michael Marshal

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Old 13th March 2019, 06:42 PM   #1
Graham2001
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'Bad PR' and difficult social issues

The basic idea of 'Bad PR', a term created by Michael Marshal of the Merseyside skeptics is the use of numbers generated by poorly controlled/run studies to generate headline grabbing attention that is then used to publicize the organization named in the article.



A classic example is when a group of feminist organizations in the United States claimed that research showed there was a 40% increase in domestic violence during 'Superbowl Sunday', in fact all the research then and since shows no such thing.


Quote:
The claim that Super Bowl Sunday is “the biggest day of the year for violence against women” is a case study of how easily an idea congruous with what people want to believe can be implanted in the public consciousness and anointed as “fact” even when there is little or no supporting evidence behind it.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/do...r-bowl-sunday/


In his discussion with the hosts of The League of Nerds podcast he discusses a case where a recruiting firm commissioned a study whose results claimed that between most people distrust female bosses (The anecdote starts at 00:48:00). This 'fact' was used to create an article who'se sole purpose was to get publicity for the recruiting company. The number itself however went on to become a 'fact' in larger conversations, with obvious consequences.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHAUGTdn5z8


This article on Vox discusses something similar, in the article it mentions a 2016 article by cNet which claims a recruiting company got a spectacular jump in acceptance of female applicants simply by blinding the resumes, however no one can find the study, and the company that released the study no longer exists.



Quote:
I, meanwhile, looked into other research on the effectiveness of résumé blinding to combat disparities in tech, and became convinced that there’s a bigger problem than one fishy statistic in one article. The hunger to fix a real problem in the field has fed a cottage industry of companies posting dubious statistics that are shared uncritically by news organizations.

https://www.vox.com/2019/2/20/182327...new-york-times


And here you have the real problem with 'Bad PR', numbers or headlines created for publicity purposes go out into the news media, they get shared around, written about, become the focus for activist groups and maybe become the basis of government policy.
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Old 13th March 2019, 07:03 PM   #2
arthwollipot
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I do enjoy Marsh's Bad PR segments.
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Old 14th March 2019, 05:20 AM   #3
Graham2001
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I do enjoy Marsh's Bad PR segments.

So do I, which is why I was so heartened to see another person out there pointing out the dangers of this type of promotional activity, as the Vox article points out, if activists latch onto the wrong answer because of some firms promotional activity dressed up as a scientific study then the real solution might not be implemented. She notes that one of the articles she investigated was taken from a book that came out earlier this month. She contacted the author and got the admission he had taken the information straight from the cNet article because the firm named in the article no longer existed, it didn't occur to the author that the study itself might not exist outside the imagination of the PR flack who designed the press release.
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Old 14th March 2019, 07:27 AM   #4
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This might just be the examples you chose (or my own interests) but I'm noticing an obvious relationship between all of these: women are victims

Of course this doesn't surprise me since as you quoted:
"a case study of how easily an idea congruous with what people want to believe can be implanted in the public consciousness and anointed as “fact” even when there is little or no supporting evidence behind it."
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