Why all this talk about the “median” income?

The US Census Bureau released figures yesterday showing that, in 2015, the median annual household income in America increased by 5.2% over a year earlier. That’s an increase of $2,798, to $56,516 per year. Why talk about the “median” and how is that different from an average? I’ll explain. Put simply, when you’re talking about income, the … Continued

Climbing the rickety stack of financial expectations

The stock market has already priced in anything you read in The Wall Street Journal about stocks. So they fill space with an elaborate passel of theories that’s obscure enough that you might think the market doesn’t understand it yet. That’s fine, so long as you realize it’s for entertainment purposes only. Markets reporters at a paper … Continued

Blame yourself, not the media, for salacious Trump coverage

Do you think that the news media favor sensation over substance? The evidence shows the opposite. So why does it seem that way? Because sensation is what we, as readers, want, and social algorithms give us what we ask for. The two most newsworthy things that Donald Trump did in the last two days were these: He … Continued

All narratives are biased, as the Benghazi report coverage reveals

Four Americans died in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Yesterday’s “final” 800-page report about it from the U.S. House Select Committee is biased. So are the response from House Democrats, the coverage from Fox News, the coverage from CNN, and every other article. Why? Because all stories are inherently biased. It’s the nature of the form. Here’s … Continued

Why students shouldn’t write on a smartphone

If you believe the Boston Globe or the Wall Street Journal, students are increasingly writing papers on their phones. While there are some benefits, teachers ought to discourage it, since it interferes with reflection and promotes a pernicious first-draft writing habit. The articles on this topic are anecdotal Like most trend pieces, both of these articles are … Continued

Health non-news gives me a headache

Health news is pretty much an oxymoron. All health articles hedge — the “news” is all provisional. But some are much worse, like this Wall Street Journal article about what to take for a headache. “Advil vs. Tylenol. Which to Use, and When,” doesn’t tell you what to use, or when — it suggests what you … Continued

Rewriting the news with stupendous verbiage in place of simple words

California middle school teacher Leilen Shelton wants her writing students to eschew simple words like “good,” “said,” and “fun,” according to the Wall Street Journal. To demonstrate the problems with this dumb idea, I rewrote a news article about terrorism, replacing all the mundane words with longer ones. Misguided writing teachers are responsible for much of the bullshit … Continued