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"Free and critical minds can emerge only by a return to the source-the primary sources. A free and critical mind takes nothing for granted and is not intimidated by "authorities" who frequently may be more confused than the general public. Free and critical minds seek truth without chauvinism or shame." - Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III (1)

“One single bit of information, if missing, incomplete, out of order or just plain wrong, has the potential to significantly alter thought processes, conclusions, decisions and behaviors, even when that one single logic entry exists in a sea of accuracy.”

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Financial Information Sources Gaming The Economy & Our Education. Opinion versus Fact

Information Guessing

When financial information is presented, it is often compared to “forecasts,” “estimates,” “expectations” or “projections.” When these words are used, it means people are guessing - mostly economists who usually econo-missed again. To rely on guesses is the same as relying on what sports predictors say. It would be crazy and considered unprofessional to read in a news story something like, “well the Lakers failed to win as many games as we predicted and this could spell trouble for their ability to sell season tickets. Fans fear the team might not win as many games as we expect for the rest of the year.”

Information Gaming

Headlines and news stories give a lot of weight to guesses. This is “running game” on the public. In other words, manipulation.

Manipulation is being attempted because guesses are being given more attention than the actual information. Instead of clearly stating the estimates were wrong, as they most often are, the media usually compares the two. This tactic is used most often with information about the economy.

Financial Information Sources Commonly Used

Examples from pop publications on Friday, April 26, 2013:

1. First-Quarter Growth, at 2.5%, Misses Expectations (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. economy failed to gather as much steam as expected in the first quarter, potentially setting up another year of sluggish gains with signs already emerging of slowing hiring and investment.
2. First-quarter growth quickens, but misses forecasts (Reuters)
Economic growth regained speed in the first quarter, but not as much as expected, which could heighten fears the already weakening economy could struggle to cope with deep government spending cuts and higher taxes.
3. US Economy Grew at 2.5% Rate in First Quarter (New York Times)
U.S. Economy Speeds Up, but Less Than Forecast.
The American economy sped up in the first quarter of this year, with output expanding at an annual pace of 2.5 percent, according to a Commerce Department report released Friday. The number was lower than the 3 percent forecasters had been expecting.
4. Spot Gold Gains $5 in Wake of Disappointing US Growth (Wall Street Journal)‎
The spot gold price rose Friday on U.S. gross domestic product data which underperformed analyst expectations. The nation's gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, advanced at a 2.5% annual rate between ...
5. U.S. economy grows at 2.5% rate in 1st quarter (Los Angeles Times)
Economic growth accelerated from January through March, buoyed by the strongest consumer spending in more than two years. The strength offset further declines in government spending that are expected to drag on growth throughout the year.
6. Economic growth, at 2.5%, falls below expectations (Los Angeles Times)
The pace of economic growth picked up in the first quarter, but not nearly as fast as many analysts had forecast -- an unwelcome sign given other recent indicators that the recovery is losing some steam and further government spending cuts loom.
7. Economy grew at 2.5 percent in 1st quarter, lower than forecast (The Washington Post)
New government data released this morning showed the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.5 percent during the first three months of the year — slower than economists expected. Many have already begun warning that the recovery has cooled even more since then.
8. Economy grew at 2.5% rate in first quarter (USA Today)
The nation's economy perked up in the first quarter, expanding at a 2.5% annual pace, the government said Friday, but that was less than expected.
9. Disappointing GDP Weighs on Stocks (Wall Street Journal)
Stocks tilted mostly lower after the opening bell as a reading on U.S. economic growth missed forecasts.
10. Growth falls short of forecasts, weakness ahead (Reuters)
Economic growth regained speed in the first quarter, but not as much as expected, heightening fears an already weakening economy could struggle to cope with …
11. US economy grows 2.5% on buoyant consumer spending (BBC News)
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5% in the first three months of the year, helped by the strongest consumer spending figures in two years.

Reporting, Distorting, Contorting

Which of the above are reporting information, which ones are distorting information and which ones are contorting information? It's up to us to make this assessment continuously because we are always encountering information. Our minds and emotions are useful but not when we allow someone to use them against us by getting us to go along with whichever way the information is spinning.

The way any information is reported matters. Instead of providing information that is clear and accurate, the information above could only leave us feeling, though we've read what's going on, we still don't know what's going on.

Obviously, rather than the unbiased truth being the prime objective, far too many in the media seem to care more about how to use information to reach their financial goals, prestige goals and power and influence goals over the minds, emotions and actions of a lot of people. Though this is a standard daily occurrence, this was absolutely evident in the reporting of the Boston Marathon bombing. Like Black Friday shoppers, the media trampled each other and the truth just to get to our limited attention and deeply-discounted self-esteem.

Our Education Continues With Opinion versus Fact

Whenever we hear any information that uses estimates we must not swallow. Estimates are guesses and guesses are opinions. When information is being presented as news, therefore supposedly professional, it is not proper to compare opinions to facts. When information is being presented as news, therefore supposedly objective, it is not proper to give opinions the same consideration given to facts. Facts are superior to opinion yet many media stories treat opinions as if they are facts. Comparing facts to opinions is like comparing apples to caramel. They can be put together but not when discussing their nutritional value. Whenever two fundamentally unalike things are compared in this way, it is always an invalid comparison.

After reading the above news headlines and blurbs, we notice many media outlets will print several stories on the same topic during the course of the same day. This often causes the story to seem to change by the second even though nothing else has happened.

We might not notice the similarity between news reporters and sports analysts. Both believe the game statistics need to be explained to us to clarify what happened and what it really means. If we watch the game we can tune them out and if we read the statistics we can get the unopinionated truth.

Words absolutely can hurt when used with no intent to help. That saying about sticks and stones is dead wrong.

Where To Find Reliable Truthful Accurate Information?

Until we get better at discerning information in terms of it's content and intent, we won't be able to recognize reliable information when we encounter it. The average person might just continue to believe information in news reports comes from experts.

Finding reliable information is all about nutrition. Even when information is being manipulated as always, no one can manipulate us when we have nutrition. Nutrition helps us discern information. Nutrition makes searching for the truth easier because nutrition and truth are fundamentally alike. Once we are filled with the beneficial, without a doubt, we'll recognize truthful information when we encounter it.

Extra Information

Even news reporters sometimes have trouble finding unbiased, balanced information. Click here...

Google Alerts & Information Research

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The Average Person's Expert

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