Here are some articles to remember when reading the mainstream media’s frequent self-congratulations, their mourning as they lose influence, and disparagement of new media reporting.
- “The Vitality of Mythical Numbers“, Max Singer, Public Interest, Spring, 1971
- “The (Continued) Vitality of Mythical Numbers“, Peter Reuter,Public Interest, Spring 1984
- “The (Ongoing) Vitality of Mythical Numbers – Does ID theft really cost $48 billion a year?“, Jack Shafer, Slate, 26 June 2006
- “More Mythical Numbers – The GAO debunks the official human-trafficking estimates“, Jack Shafer, Slate, 16 August 2006
- Other articles about these things
- For more information and Afterword
While mythical numbers will always circulate at warp speed, on the Internet the corrections often circulate almost as fast — unlike the mainstream media who often ignore their errors (unless forced to acknowledge them by the growing new media).
(1) “The Vitality of Mythical Numbers“, Max Singer, Public Interest, Spring, 1971 — Excerpt:
Along the same lines, this exercise is another reminder that even responsible officials, responsible newspapers, and responsible research groups pick up and pass on as gospel numbers that have no real basis in fact. We are reminded by this experience that because an estimate has been used widely by a variety of people who should know what they are talking about, one cannot assume that the estimate is even approximately correct.