Spot the Ad Content

I imagine readers here will do fine with this, but it’s something you might want to try with your students. Ask them this: Can they spot the advertisement on this page? (click to enlarge).


Even better, show them a couple of these and ask if there is any advertising on the page.

A list of articles currently on Digipo

It’s a wiki, so it’s messy, with a lot of duds. But as we get towards the end of the semester/quarter, a number of classes are showing up and adding pages (often as group work, so one page = multiple users).

Here’s a list of articles in various states. Expect incomplete work when you click through — but if you want to make them better, sign up and edit! And if you really want to help, get your class to try it!


Aspartame: A harmless food additive or a deadly carcinogen?

Breitbart Leaks Audio Of Paul Ryan Trashing Trump

Are Bald Men Sexier?

Title (Black Activist Also Rally for Injust White Police Shooting)

Black Friday Deaths, 2016

Black Justice

Black Activists Launch Monthly Fee System

Bloomberg’s Slice

California Democorats Attempt to Make Fake News Illegal

Out of Focus

CNN is “fake news”

Common Core Prediction

Police Shootings vs. Police Shot

Oil Pipeline Leak in North Dakota

Trump Education Secretary to get rid of Common Core

DNC Emails and Russia

Status: Unclear

Trump’s Pick for EPA post is a climate change denialist

Title EPA Stayed Silent on Flint’s Tainted Water

Status: Resolved

“Remembering” False Memories

First Born Child is the Most Intelligent

Fukushima Thyroid Cancer

Women considered better coders – but only if they hide their gender

Bill Would Allow Government to Locate People with Tracking Device


Hair Loss Claim

Hillary Clinton and the Rust Belt Recount


Hobby Lobby Divorce

El Niño and climate change

Pole Position

Taking Up Music Increases IQ


Irish Weather Forecaster Killed By Lightning on TV

Islamic Refugee / Ohio State Attack

Jewish Population Chart

“Why couldn’t you just keep your legs together?” Judge Robin Camp

Khilaf Krafts Hijab

Latest News Analysis

Lazy American Women

Minnesota Premiums

If you want less police violence, hire more female cops

Mozart’s Sister was just as talented as Mozart


Is the National Anthem a Celebration of Slavery?

Nature Deficit Disorder

Nineteen Dead WWII Vets

North Carolina Voter Suppression

NYPD Hijab Threat

About That “Vanishing” NYT Norway Article

Can we transclude a OneNote into this thing?

Environment & Energy

Outliving Carrie Fisher

Palin’s Nativia

Paul Krugman Bankruptcy

Racial Profiling

Video Games and Sexism

‘Pope Francis Laundry’ Service Opens for Homeless in Rome

Trump Voters more influenced by Racist and Sexist attitudes than the promise of economic reform

Radioactive Boars Being Hunted in Fukushima

Return to the Bubble?

Rice and Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Sample Articles

People Absorb Energy From Others

First Born Children Are More Intelligent

Selfie Takers tend to overestimate attractiveness

Sexism and Mental Health

Shinzo Abe’s Trust

Being Single is Now a Disability, According to the World Health Organization

Smart people need more time alone

New Urinal Will Both Wash and Dry Genitals

Source Shortname

News Analysis

Status Definitions for Questions of Fact

The “Dangers” of Dripping

Hiring Bias or Bad Interviews?

Three Million Illegal Votes

Trans Population Suicide Rate

Trump’s drug use could explain erratic behavior

Trump’s team is asking for the names of Energy Department employees who worked on climate issues

Trump Mumbai Ad

Trump Opts Out of Private Daily Briefing

Trump Washington Hotel Lease

Who Shot Who at UW?

Nagging Your Daughters to Success?

Atmospheric carbon levels pass the point of no return

The Weather Channel Founder Rejects Global Warming

Smart Wife, Happy Life?

Title (Women vs. Men: Who Needs More Sleep)

European Physics “Journal” and 9/11

14 Signs of Fascism

Title (Change)

Freak storm pushes North Pole 50 degrees above normal to melting point

Ambassador Location

APSA Address Embraces Fascism in 1934

Title: Van Full Of Illegals Shows Up To Vote Clinton At SIX Polling Places, Still Think Voter Fraud Is A Myth?

Why I Use Reverse Image Searches to Teach

People wonder why I do so many reverse image searches as activities. The answer is bit complex, so hang with me a second.

The reason isn’t that reverse image searches are the most important thing or the easiest thing. They’re pretty rare stuff. The reason I use them is they are a powerfully clear example about how finding your way back to a source can clarify the truth of matters. They are an analogue of all the more boring stuff we do on the web, but the skills are the same — look for other sources, use date filters to move back to the original, compare the original with the newer version to see if it has been significantly altered.

When you do an image search you see how the flood of misinformation that somes at you in a search can often be filtered down to a higher quality trickle via smart filtering that gets you closer in time and space to the original source.

It’s also meant to be a bit Foggian (and sorry, I know that Fogg is a divisive figure). But in the spirit of tiny habits, if I can get you to right click on images — muscle memory for the initiated — then maybe I can slow you down enough to get you to do a couple other things.

But enough of that background theory. It’s 4/20 today. So with that in mind, what did this sign really say?


(For the record, we call this a “sign-holding exploitable”.)

Polarization and Expressive Responding

Something I’m fascinated with right now — expressive responding in polls. Consider this chart which recently made the rounds:

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That’s right, after the election, Republican confidence in the economy skyrocketed, from -46 to +27. Meanwhile, Democratic confidence moderately declined. But what does that mean, really? Does that mean that partisan identity is so strong that people literally change their opinion overnight?

The thing is it can’t mean that. Look at that steady level of economic despair among Republicans about the direction of the economy. That -47 score Republicans gave the economy in 2016 is equivalent to the level of confidence in the economy during the Great Recession. That’s really low. That’s world-is-going-to-end-tomorrow low.


A naive reading of this says that for the eight years of the Obama administration Republicans were just as suspicious of the economy’s stability as when the entire economy was on the brink of collapse in 2008/09. They were scared every day that they were going to lose their jobs and the economy was going to collapse around them.

But here’s U. S. car and light truck purchases over the past fifteen years.


From the EIA

As the chart shows, when you’re nervous about the economy, you don’t run out and buy a new car. Even with the Cash for Clunkers program in 2008/09, demand for new cars in those years collapsed. No one buys a car when they think they may be out of a job tomorrow.

As the economy came back, however, demand returned to normal. This was a direct expression of people’s confidence in the economy — their willingness to take out a five year loan to get a new car. We can see the purchase of cars as a proxy for not what people want to express, but what they actually believe.

Fine, that’s just U.S. autos. But you can see proxies of confidence wherever you look. They bottom out during the crash and slowly come back.

So was it just Democrats, with their confidence, buying all these cars and engaging in new mortgages? No, of course not. The truth is the Republicans in the poll are not truly pessimistic, at least not at the level of economic intuition. Rather, they are using the poll to express a feeling about (or prejudice against) the current administration.

How far do people take this? Well consider this: when Trump voters were shown these two pictures of the Trump (photo A) and Obama (photo B) inauguration and asked which picture showed a more people, 15% said photo A had more people.


As the researchers note:

 If there were no political controversy, any respondent who took the time to look at the photographs would see more people in the image on the right than the one on the left.

Clearly, some Trump supporters in our sample decided to use this question to express their support for Trump rather than to answer the survey question factually.

Polls, in other words, might slowly be becoming junk. We don’t actually know how many people believe Obama was a Muslim, or how many people believe the DNC rigged the election. The answer is surely some people believe each thing, but they are lumped together with people who use the question as a general proxy for expressing something else, as a way of advancing what is seen as a team agenda.

One thing to note, this seems to be more prominent on the Republican side (asymmetric, as they say). Aside from the consumer confidence pattern above there’s the Obama bombs Syria/Trump bombs Syria question.  Thirty-eight percent of Democrats supported Obama’s plan to bomb Syria in 2013, and a nearly identical number of Democrats supported Trump’s action. Republicans, however, were lopsided: 22 percent supported Obama’s plan, but over 86 percent supported Donald Trump.

And while race has something to do with that asymmetry, it’s not just race: Republican trust in government, for example, has been mostly dependent on which party controls the presidency, whereas Democratic trust in government has been stable since Carter came into office, with a dip during the years of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina:

But again, I’m not quite sure how to read this. Is this really the level of trust? Or is it expressive responding? Or are the two things so intertwined it’s hard to tell?

Interestingly, you see that pattern emerge in the Carter administration. and of course the Carter administration is where partisanship begins to take off in the DW-NOMINATE scores as well, which are about voting patterns of legislators (and not generally considered expressive):

I’m aware of the many explanations of the DW-NOMINATE score increases, and also aware this is a big dig into a small signal, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

Also, I’m thinking that these poll responses — going back to the 1970s — show a lightweight, non-digital form of participatory propaganda. You get the call from the pollster, and you see this as an opportunity to further the interests of your party by ever-so-slightly affecting the poll results, bringing them in line with the party talking points (the economy is strong, the government is trustworthy, the crowd was huge). It’s like an early form of online reposting, trying to amplify the signal of the message you want to advocate, even if you may have some reservations about the truthfulness of the claims.

UMW Talk, Condensed

My University of Mary Washington talk was exciting because it was new territory, but a tad less concise than I generally like. It was about an hour.

That’s too bad about the length, because the talk was a really great introduction to the subject, and I need an intro I can link to for beginners.

So I cut the text down to 35 minutes, and then I filmed me giving it and put it up on YouTube. Is that weird?

It’s weird, isn’t it? Whatever, I’m weird.

I think it makes an intro into the issue that I might be able to reuse. I also got to use a better balance of examples. Anyway I wanted to thank UMW for having me and supporting this work, both through the invitation and the incredible work their students are doing in this space.

(I suppose I could have just said this is a new presentation, instead of an edit. Would that be less weird?)

It’s still a bit of a long video for use in a class, but who knows, maybe I’ll get it down to 15 minutes in a month or so.