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It Ain't Necessarily So

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Part 2 The Ambiguity of News Chapter 3 The News That Isn't There: Stories that Are-And Aren't-Covered Chapter 4 Much Ado about Little: Making News Mountains Out of Research Molehills Part 5 The Ambiguity of Measurement Chapter 6 Bait and Switch: Understanding "Tomato" Statistics Chapter 7 The Perils of Proxies: Is There a There There? Chapter 8 Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full? A Look at Statistics from Both Sides Now Chapter 9 Polls Apart: The Gertrude Stein Approach to Making Sense of Contradictory Surveys Chapter 10 The Reality and Rhetoric of Risk: Telling It Like It Is- and Isn't Chapter 11 Distinguishing Reports From Reality Part 12 The Ambiguity of Explanation Chapter 13 Blaming the Messenger, Ignoring the Message Chapter 14 Tunnel Visions and Blind Spots: The Danger of Hedgehog Interpretations Chapter 15 Conclusion: "Hard to Tell": Journalism, Science, and Public Policy-An Inherent Conflict?

About the Author

David Murray is the director of research at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS). Joel Schwartz is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and is the author of several books. S. Robert Lichter is co-director of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) and co-author of over ten books, including Peepshow (ISBN 0742500101). All three authors live in the Washington, DC, metro area.


Excellent and devastating new book. . . . Provides a real education on media fraud, which is infinitely more important than media bias. * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution * This title offers tools to assist in understanding what and how media reports. * Ann Arbor News * Risk and uncertainty plague our daily lives, especially when they drive media headlines. But savvy consumers of news have a new ally with the appearance of this timely and entertaining read that manages to take the process apart and show us the guts of how news is really made. -- John D. Graham, director, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis David Murray, Joel Schwartz, and Robert Lichter look beneath the surface of today's journalism and find narrative 'templates' that reflect journalists' ideologies and world views-which are often very different from that of readers, listeners, and viewers. In It Ain't Necessarily So, they show how this results in sloppy reporting, misleading impressions, and the propagation of downright lies. This book helps consumers of journalism make sense of the news-even when the journalists have made nonsense of the statistics. -- Michael Barone, senior writer, U.S. News & World Report; co-author, The Almanac of American Politics One of the greatest dangers to good public policy is bad reporting on science. It abounds. In this important new book, the authors explore why the media has such a tough time getting the story straight on scientific research. Better yet, they expertly demystify the process, showing consumers why they often get an adulterated media product with little relationship to reality. -- James K. Glassman, American Enterprise Institute Fake statistics flood the news media these days. This book is the essential antidote. -- John Leo, U.S. News & World Reports Today agenda-driven social pressures can cloud the media's presentation of the complex enterprise of science. With splendid insight, Murray et al. clear the biases in a powerful and timely primer that leaps the chasm of ignorance to show the facts of science. -- Sallie Baliunas, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Readers from all walks of life will acquire a more critical eye from this thought-provoking examination of how science gets served up for our early-morning reading and postprandial evening news. * Publishers Weekly * Recommended reading for all members of the news media audience. * Skeptical Inquirer * The authors are respected critics of science reporting. The authors commendably ground their ideas in previous scholarship and provide helpful annotations within chapters. Highly recommended for academic journalism collections serving upper-division undergraduates through faculty and for professional and public libraries. * CHOICE * The authors do a fine, well-researched job in shining a light on the problems of the reader should beware. * The Philadelphia Inquirer * An impressive piece of media criticism, more serious-minded and rigorous than sloppy and alarmist reporting on science deserves, and surprisingly readable. * The Weekly Standard * The book offers a solid critique of the way data-based reports and studies are presented in the media. * Idaho Statesman * It Ain't Necessarily So details how many of the 'facts' that drive sensational claims derive from how numbers are defined. * Wall Street Journal Asia * The authors' analysis of what kinds of misreports were made is solid, and their understanding of the pressures on reporters is profound. * The Maui News * I recommend that everyone take time to read this book. -- Joseph Endres, The Endres Group * Inform * Riveting! * Philanthropy * The commentaries on stories are measured and convincing. * Times Literary Supplement * Well-written and carefully researched . . . a valuable addition to earlier studies of media and science. * Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly *

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