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Commercial Advertising causes Economic Distortions

At its simplest advertising may ensure buyers are aware of possible purchasing options, such as a shop sign describing the type of products and services available. Given the free market model's promise of optimal outcomes is based, in part on the assumption that economic actors have full knowledge of the choices before them, it might seem that advertising is an essential step to ensuring these optimal outcomes. Unfortunately it ain't necessarily so!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:40

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Science of Fantasy Literature

Last night I watched Andrew Denton's interview of Richard Dawkins in Denton's Elders series. At age 68, Dawkins looks back at a long history of promoting a scientific approach to life, and of criticising religion as non-scientific and something we would all be best rid of.

While it is interesting that Dawkins apparently had a "devout" period in his teens in Kenya, it is not religion per se that I am raising in this issue. it is rather the narrow view of science that Dawkins appears to espouse. This was highlighted by a number of points during the interview, including his response to fairy tales and fantasy literature as "invalid and wrong", and even his characterising of the Santa Claus tradition as parental lying to their children.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:40

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The Media Filter

When the United Nations finally acted in March 2011 to authorize a No-Fly Zone over Libya, whole populations around the world applauded or at least breathed a sign of relief. They had become engaged in the media coverage of how the dictator Gaddafi's forces were inexorably retaking towns and populations that had briefly experienced independence from his central control. The central bastion of the independence protests, the city and population of Benghazi, was at risk - and the media allowed many of its population to beseech help through TV screens to living rooms world-wide.

Why did the media filter show these pleas? They were available pictures, an apparent pre-requisite for an item to make the night time news, and they were emotionally engaging pictures, perhaps an even more insidious growing requirement for today's popular news.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:40

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Avoiding Opinion labeled as News and Current Affairs

Biased opinion haunts nearly many news and current affairs publications, programs and sites, and even more so in columns, blogs, talk-back shows that are often taken to be accurate news or current affairs reporting. Given people's reliance, and often non-critical reliance, on the media for information on which they make economic and political decisions, and their tendency to consume those whose views suit your own existing beliefs or prejudices, this situation tends to exacerbate polarisation on issues rather than considered judgements. Thie may be good for media ratings but it is not good for society as a whole.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 00:40

Read more: Avoiding Opinion labeled as News and Current Affairs
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