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BS detector: Does watching Fox News or blindly believing PR studies make you stupid?

Dec 10, 20124 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSmall and Medium Business

Let's start your Monday with a grin since this is a test of your hoax detector...unless you like Fox News; then you might be temporarily offended.

PRWeb published and then Yahoo republished a study claiming that Fox New viewers have a lower IQ than the rest of the nation. “Study shows that the Americans who watch Fox News have an average IQ of 80, whereas the national average is 100. Researchers were not ‘shocked’ by findings,” stated the fake study by a fake “Intelligence Institute.” Whether or not you like Fox News, your BS meter should be blaring a red alert. Here is a screenshot of the excerpt from the article, just in case Yahoo yanks it.

When the supposed intelligence study was not seen on PRWeb, some folks, such as cryptology and computer security expert Matt Blaze asked if Yahoo News was hacked or social engineered. Then Blaze added, “Really ought to be a bullsh*t detection 101.” If there was a study conducted, then it might be more along the lines of studying who blindly accepts study press releases. In fact, Reddit had a long discussion about the validity of the press release, even though it does play into the “anti-Fox hivemind.”

Then the Huffington Post had an exclusive with the Fox News PR hoax master, the alleged Intelligence Institute lead researcher, P. Nichols, who claimed, “PRWeb suspended the account of the group that posted the press release and demanded a meeting on Monday December 10 where they expect Nichols to provide more evidence to back the press release’s claims before they will keep this press release up or agree to post any others down the road.” It’s up to you if you care to buy into that one. Nichols admitted calling himself a lead researcher is a stretch of the imagination, especially since the Intelligence Institute doesn’t even exist. In fact, the study didn’t take four years and “may not have tested anyone’s IQ.”

This is not the first and surely won’t be the last press release hoax. If it’s too good, too funny to be true, then it probably isn’t, such as the supposed study about the intelligence of Internet Explorer users, which claimed IE users had a lower IQ than that of other web browser users.

If you are a Fox News basher and feel somewhat deflated, then this might lift your spirits. Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll, published Fox bashing “findings” last year about how Fox News “enhances stupidity.”

The conclusion of Some News Leaves People Knowing Less: “Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.” Cassino added in What you know depends on what you watch, “Ideological news sources, like Fox and MSNBC, are really just talking to one audience. This is solid evidence that if you’re not in that audience, you’re not going to get anything out of watching them.”

Ready for some real news? The Next Web reported that Russian hackers broke into the Miami Family Medical Centre, an Australian medical clinic, and held the patient records for a $4,000 ransom. This is not the first time for medical-data blackmail, either; other extortion schemes included demanding $10 million from the Virginia’s Department of Health for 8.3 million stolen patient records. In fact, after hackers stole, encrypted and demanded payment for patient records from a Libertyville, Illinois, health provider, Bloomberg reported on the growing medical-data crime niche since 2004.

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  • Microsoft provides fusion center technology & funding for surveillance
  • You + Big Data = Not Anonymous; Microsoft develops Differential Privacy for everyone
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  • Digital privacy in the big data era: Microsoft’s data protection keynote

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.