The industrial ancient DNA publication machine is real. A few giants control the vast majority of ancient DNA samples behind a wall, and these giants decide when and where to release these samples. I was part of a study, that got mashed together with a totally unrelated study at the last minute, for the sake of another hyped headline in Nature/Science, which reviewed and accepted the article very quickly. The whole process felt sloppy & rushed, and I was left with a bitter taste that ultimately led me to move on to other areas.
On the other hand, I have immense scientific respect for David. In population genetics, there are a whole host of methods used to infer demographic history that are very biased and ignore important forces like natural selection. David's group has pioneered statistical methods that are more robust and less biased, that make less sweeping claims but are on much sounder scientific footing, and used these methods to derive important insights on human history.
Who controls the samples? That sounds like a sci-fi thriller plot in the making.
To gain access to unpublished samples, you need to form collaborations with the gatekeepers, who decide the ultimate form of publication -- usually, a big Nature/Science paper with 100 authors.
I liked this twitter thread about some of the challenges of smaller groups in obtaining samples:
And one of the largest moral issues in the books is that they are owned by the company that synthesized them; it's fiction, but you can see why people are extremely concerned about the concept of companies owning both genetic sequences and their end products.
What happens when genetic treatments start to fix birth defects in unborn children? Will we allow the companies which produce those treatments to lay claim to the child's organs which would not have otherwise existed? I sure hope not, but I could definitely see it happening in this day and age. It'd be a whole new kind of vertical integration.
This isn’t only the NYT but given their status as the premier news source in the USA it is the most glaring to me.
Also, I know it’s become a trope to post this on HN as it’s basically gospel at this point, but The Submarine essay by Paul Graham gives some nice insight into the PR and media industry http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html
You, as the reader, are expected to be know enough about how newspapers are organized to tell that you're reading part of the opinion or editorial sections and what that means. In an ideal newspaper practicing journalistic integrity, letters to the editor like the one presented here would be published in future editions of the paper, or, failing that, published in competing newspapers.
Yes, everything is subject to bias. Everything is subject to bias. You cannot eliminate it. The point is to be aware of it's existence, and newspapers help do that by placing these types of pieces in their opinion and editorial sections.
There's a difference between cherry picking stories to support a narrative, and bending the truth. The NYT is engaging in the latter.
I'm still a subscriber, but there's a strongly "promoted" bias, IMHO, and it requires reading news from several sources with an open mind to get the complete story.
Also, NYT isn't immune to click-baity titles, where the meat of the story isn't necessary correlate with the title.
It turns out people like to read other people's opinions. Who'da thunk?
> I'm still a subscriber, but there's a strongly "promoted" bias, IMHO
If you want a balanced overall view of the day's news, the place to start is the front/home page, not the "Most Popular" list. Newspaper editors spend extraordinary amounts of time agonizing over exactly what stories should go there and how much prominence to give to each. "Most Popular" skips all that in favor of the "wisdom of the crowd," which it turns out is not all that wise.
(If the nytimes.com home page still contains too much opinion for you, you can get a digital edition of each day's print paper's front page at this stable URL: https://www.nytimes.com/section/todayspaper)
Except that they don't like to read other people's opinions. They like to read their own opinions.
The most popular opinion pieces are overwhelmingly those which play to the prejudices of the majority of readers, not those which challenge people by presenting unpopular opinions.
I don’t consider this a negative. I have always had a bit of that “rebellious” streak in me, so I’ve been told. I have always questioned everything. I would ask “Why?” like 2 year old. I wasn’t asking to second guess coworkers, but because I wanted to learn to fish rather than being handed a fish. The question everything mentality stuck, so I’m constantly reading multiple sources to confirm or contradict any one single source.
It also seems like the ratio of opinion content to actual news has been increasing lately. In the print version of the NYT, opinion pieces were generally only found on two pages, sometimes maybe overflowing a bit, but you'd never see them on the front page and they certainly weren't the bulk of the paper. Now it seems like the majority of "news" content from some outlets are actually opinion pieces.
Well, sure. Now that everyone has access to 24h news for free, the facts become commodities and lose their value, and therefore the reference publications start giving more space to the product over which they have some market power: the analysis of news by picked columnists.
If you just want an event log, you're better off skipping the uninterested middleman and just going to AP or Reuters or similar.
The Guardian labels comment articles with a big orange “ in the headline on the homepage, an orange "Opinion" on the article page, a pastel orange background in both places, the author's name under the heading in orange, and "commentisfree" in the URL.
Once you start reading the article and scroll the above off, the fixed position thingy at the top of the of the page that has the hamburger menu, search box and says "The New York Times" centered changes to contain article specific controls, such as social media stuff, comments, bookmarking, the "The New York Times" string moves to the right, and the centered text becomes "OPINION | <title of article>", with "OPINION" in bolded all caps.
This seems fine to me. I can't think of an occasion where I've ever failed to realize when I'm reading an opinion piece or editorial there.
There's an obvious distinction between a pundit advancing a point of view and factual accounting of some event. That's not the say that the news section never betrays bias with the facts a reporter chooses to include, or by omitting contrary perspectives.
But really, I hope readers do not need a giant header banner "THIS IS AN OP-ED" to recognize one.
But it's also kind of odd that you consider there to be a problem in the first place, because it's also trivial to distinguish news articles from opinions and editorials just from their writing stile.
It turns out that's not true for most people any more.
In programming, this would be like complaining about the existence of indenting.
If the last decade or so has shown anything it is that people are tired of the standard operating procedures of legacy media. Maybe the idea that the editorials all present a unified narrative is part of that.
On reread, is it actually about "editorials?" Because that's not what editorial policy is entirely about. Partially, yes, but not completely.
No. They know most people take news articles, editorials and opinion articles as the same thing and exploit it.
Anyone who pays attention to news for any amount of time sees redundant news and agenda. But PR stooges?
If PR firms are so entwined with traditional news and media, I wonder how entrench PR firms are in the social media space.
Watch the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix
Assuming that all of those relationships are absolutely true, and would hold in a world of equal opportunity that didn't reward conforming to certain stereotypes, or punish deviating from them; even in that world, you'd assume that there'd be far more important issues at all times than these tiny postulated differences.
NYT is awful, but just in the way all corporate media outlets are awful; they cater to the powerful, and protect an encourage industries in which they are also invested.
Off the top of my head:
- The New York Times fired Quinn Norton basically for being willing to talk to weev (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/02/the-n...)
- The New York Times fired Razib Khan for reporting on facts that are basically consensus opinion among geneticists and intelligence researchers.
- The New York Times kept Sarah Jeong despite her offenses being substantially beyond the above. (I think it would have been fine to keep Jeong if they also kept Norton and Khan).
- The New York Times published a completely uncritical review of Democracy in Chains, despite it's dishonest scholarship. Even NPR added an editor's note to their report on this book.
we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.
Only later was it qualified to say (paraphrased) as "uh, we meant percentage of the popular vote that went to HRC or Trump". But they had never, ever computed their masthead popular vote counts that way before, and they didn't qualify those limited counts until 11 days after the election.
For months ahead of the election, the election was never called by The New York Times as being below a 90% certainty.
They were basically declaring a winner up front, and contributed to the spectacle of total upset.
Now as an outlet, it just spews shit on a daily basis. And I mean shit. It’s been unreadable since then.
The last time I observed good coverage on anything from The New York Times was during the first two years of the 2003 Iraq war. Since then, garbage. Hot garbage.
> For months ahead of the election, the election was never called by The New York Times as being below a 90% certainty.
It's trivial to verify that neither of these things are true, so...just adding to the garbage, I guess?
They were, more or less, calling the election, and in retrospect, trying to drive results.
Perhaps it’s debateable to say no one really wanted Trump to win, given what we’ve now seen, but this points very seriously to the fact that The New York Times is not at all an objective news source, which makes them as worthless as their rivals.
Further, I think if you wanted to drive the results of an election you're far more likely to give your chosen candidate a _lower_ chance of winning in order to drive as much support as possible. If as a voter you thought it a foregone conclusion that your preferred candidate was going to win, it's not likely you see much reason to vote.
All of that said, the NYT is clearly constantly pushing particular agendas (just look at the "Business" section for a start) and has dropped so significantly in own esteem that I will very likely unsubscribe soon. However, when criticizing an organization we should do so objectively and point to their true flaws and not use misunderstandings of probabilities.
At first sitting back and reading the suggested edits and changes in place I had a similar first reaction as you did, but after doing the "walk away, do something else and come back to your writing later" thing, I found the opinion was still there though much less verbose.
Share that to say, the editorial process itself, even for opinion pieces-is rather....well... opinionated.
Would it be nice to see if a publication just decided to run editorials contrary to or perhaps ones that eviscerated a viewpoint or position said publication has been known to hold-and entertain plurality for plurality's sake?
Probably. If that's what the readers have come to expect, probably.
But as a default condition of running a newspaper? I think senior editors like keeping their jobs too much for that.
They are personified by the Clinton family, yet are more pro-Bush than say pro-BernieSanders or pro-GaryJohnson.
With Trump's alternate-establishment weirdness and the extent polarization of modern US politics, the right wing is rejecting the NYT and thus pushing them farther left to maintain readership by catering to replacement readers.
Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer was never revoked. He worked for the NYT as Moscow Burea Chief while the Holodmor, the Ukrainian famine was happening and didn’t cover it.
> What Duranty knew and when
> It was clear, meanwhile, from Duranty's comments to others that he was fully aware of the scale of the calamity. In 1934 he privately reported to the British embassy in Moscow that as many as 10 million people may have died, directly or indirectly, from famine in the Soviet Union in the previous year.
> Both British intelligence and American engineer Zara Witkin (1900–1940), who worked in the USSR from 1932 to 1934, confirmed that Duranty knowingly misrepresented information about the nature and scale of the famine.
> There are some indications that Duranty's deliberate misdirection concerning the famine may have been the result of duress. Conquest believed Duranty was being blackmailed over his sexual proclivities.
You open the paper and read an article about your field. “This thing is crap, they got all the details wrong and are drawing ridiculous conclusions!”
Then you click to the next article, about something else. “Wow, this is really fascinating. We need to do something about this!”
I think this idea has a name, though I don’t remember it.
"To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it's benefits, than is done by it's abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knolege with the lies of the day. ... I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false."
Yet in my own personal experience, the media seemed at the minimum 'better' before the internet. So what gives? Maybe there is a very simple explanation. What may have changed is that now the internet enables individuals to share their expertise (and the media's lack thereof). It's no longer just the man who is an expert in a field facing disillusionment, but rather now anybody at all that reads his testimony. In times past there was no way to get such messages out. In other words the internet did not create mediocrity in the media, but rather emphasized it loud and clear for all to bear witness to, even those who otherwise would have been none the wiser.
 - http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_spe...
If I said well the people who comment on here and the articles submitted here about fitness are mostly shit, why would I read their opinions about programming, then I'd miss out on a lot.
Not all the writers on staff at any publication are going to be bad, but some will be or they will just be given a topic to write about which they are not familiar with, but are experts in a different field perhaps.
If a journalist was really knowledgeable about something they were writing, would they still be in journalism when their insight could fetch more elsewhere?
I cancelled my subscription to the NYT because I felt this way about many of their pieces.
If you cancelled your NYT subscription, may I ask what other daily newspaper you find to be as informative but more objective? Or have you given up daily news altogether?
If you want to listen to audio, there are a lot of great podcasts, many from the above publications. (People in the rigthwing media bubble will complain that the above four pubs are liberal, but frankly: reality has a liberal bias in 2019, and all the above are truth-first, and thus VERY different from rightwing pubs like WSJ, Fox, Daily Caller, etc.)
As for NPR: it is really a terrible example of our current 'both sides', conservative-influenced media. NPR sounds fair, but the NPR news production is strongly controlled by its individual member stations. Because of that station control, NPR is highly susceptible to whining from the right, and so they end up presenting "both sides" of many issues, even when only one is true. It's sad. (Example: NPR refused to use the word "lie" to refer to DJT's statements even as late as Dec 2016, when the NYT had come out with a usage of "lie" to great hoopla in Oct/Nov 2016). The NYT is better than NPR, except for NYT politics coverage: don't read its politics coverage and if you can, skip its headlines. For some reason NYT editors and politics reporters are strong believers in the both sides, fact-second religion.
I do end up finding myself on The Atlantic fairly often through links. It has some good opinion pieces, but I don't really think of it as "news" so much. Or at least, not the stuff that I've read.
I’ve a great deal of experience in the healthcare field. Their recent series of work on healthcare has been amazing and amazingly bad: they’ve chased down data, analyzed it thoroughly, and apparently not bothered to speak to actual experts in the field to contextualize that data. Particularly where that would interfere with their agenda.
The result is, as they say, noise and fury signifying nothing. In honor of the gell-man effect, I couldn’t in good conscience use them as a source for a field I’m not an expert in.
AHA! Thank you for giving a name to a phenomenon I've talked about for years!
Every now and then I’ll deep dive into an area for whatever reason. E.g. when Trump did his tax proposal, it directly affected us because of the reduction of the marriage penalty. So I looked at how it compared to tax laws in other countries. My conclusion was that the main effect of the proposal would’ve been to move is closer to the tax regimes in Germany, etc. Much of the Western world is following a trend of lowering corporate taxes, e.g. Sweden. But reporting that Trump’s tax policy follows a global trend is not consistent with how journalists today report the news (on both sides), where every story has to have identifiable villains or heros and support some broader narrative and agenda.
"Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia" Nov 11, 2016
(Note that quite a few reporters have publicly said they think this story was sourced to Trump partisans in the NY FBI office, but there has been no firm reporting about the true reasons for it. Yet.)
1. cross referencing your sources
2. seeking the other side of the story / opposing viewpoints
3. asking those involved for comment
because it seems glaringly obvious to me in the Covington Catholic case, none of that was done until 48 hours when some high profile twitter names started actually pointing out the glaring errors.
And I certainly won't say the NYT is perfect. But it seems a bit much to claim the NYT has so many errors that it is unreadable or reality free. And it is certainly better than the vast majority of alternatives.
After all, in the very case you mentioned, they did print this almost immediately. And the problem in this case comes far more from the "like" button and yet more twitter storms than it does news papers. Papers which attract vastly fewer eyeballs, have far fewer curse words and require attention spans greater than a chipmunk.
If their editorial standards permit them to rush to judgment as they did in the Catholic school incident how can I trust their editorial standards in more nuanced areas where I don't get to see the full story on video for myself?
I think this particular instance is minor, though unfortunate for the unfairly maligned children. What really worries me is just the judgment of the paper. They should've known they didn't have the whole story and that the whole story would be available on video. Why not wait until you knew the relevant information? I can understand people making mistakes, this scenario just seems so simple and obvious though and I can't believe they botched it. It makes me worried - how can I trust them to handle complicated issues?
Over the last couple days I’ve been watching the unfolding reaction and re-reactions to the video of the confrontation between Native American activist and elder Nathan Phillips and a crowd of high school students from Covington, Kentucky on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The whole story is a good example of how we can react quickly to a zoomed in (both literally and metaphorically) video and miss a lot of what led up to it, as well as some key context. With that said, though, when you add all the context I’m not sure it’s all that different from what it looked like on the first go, despite some now saying the new evidence and new videos change everything.
Saturday night and into Sunday I watched numerous different videos of the encounter itself and what led up to it. So let me give you my impression of what happened as well as links to videos and accounts which can help you come to your own conclusions.
First, the initial videos could easily give the impression that Phillips (the man with the drum) was in the midst of marching in a protest when he was surrounded by a crowd of white teenagers in MAGA hats. That’s not what happened.
(Be very careful of the takes from rightwing, billionaire-funded/owned publications like the Daily Caller, Reason, WSJ, IJR, Fox News, Drudge, or anyone on rightwing radio: they have a political reason to play down racism from a white kid wearing a MAGA hat.)
The initial account was nothing less than a setup. The derisive referral to boys in “MAGA hats”, the utter speculation about what a boy was feeling to fit a narrative in direct conflict with the boys own statement, the over-generalizing “they were all doing tomahawk chops”, and on and on. This is a tortured attempt at ass-covering.
Most glaringly, failing to directly call out the utter lies told by Phillips (a professional protestor and agitator) to the press, which entirely discredits him, the adult in this situation, who was in fact an instigator.
The NYT followup piece  on this incident was actually significantly more fair. But it still doesn’t excuse getting it wrong the first time.
What’s beautiful is anyone can watch the full uncut zoomed out videos and see for themselves. This second-hand “analysis” is toxic to the truth, which is just a click on YouTube away.
Compare and contrast the TalkingPointsMemo piece with this one  — which I don’t know anything about that site, but the author seems to be a lot more clear headed about what seems to have happened. What I read there was someone describing what they learned from watching the full 1 hour 40 minute video showing what really happened. 
In short it’s been an absolute banner week for “Fake News” and you would certainly hope this would provoke some soul searching from the so-called journalists responsible for this.
 - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/20/us/nathan-phillips-coving...
 - https://reason.com/blog/2019/01/20/covington-catholic-nathan...
 - https://youtu.be/3-pFMZaw5f0
Boy that seems so story based. That's what's to be expected to get people to read, but also makes it so easy to come up with examples of misinformation when the story is trying to make a subject more easily understandable.
The laziness of journalists today, even in long form articles like this, with a full graphics team and everything, never ceases to amaze me.
Well, yes. For those wondering why the author did do the simplest possible due diligence — asking the subject of the article about the thinking used to frame it — it's because it likely would have resulted in a less-interesting, less-trafficked story. Accuracy isn't the objective, reach and audience is. Corrections can be packaged up and slipped in later.
Another thing that is more worrying is that social justice activists are using the technicality of them not worshipping a God per se to bypass secular protections against enforcing religious beliefs institutionally. 
Edit: found one http://archive.is/vI29T
It seems like people are fed up enough to break confidentiality agreements to leak info, but not fed up enough to quit and leave the hostile environment. I still appreciate the Snowden method. Got fed up to the point that the info must be released, but did not hide to keep his job.
Also, some leaks are from official sources like a press secretary or similar official, but staying anonymous to float information as a trial balloon so there’s some plausible deniability if the balloon was made of lead. In marketing, the leaked photos seem to be an internally approved method to get free PR.
This has likely annoyed people since the beginning of anything related to journalistic inquiry. If these people didn't have a guarantee of anonymity, the public would be in the dark most of the time.
> I still appreciate the Snowden method. Got fed up to the point that the info must be released, but did not hide to keep his job.
Not everybody is in Snowden's position; relatively young, unmarried, no kids. He may be able to take this "cool guys don't look back at explosions" approach, but most people can't. That doesn't mean that what they know should remain hidden from view because it doesn't meet your standards for what a 'real whistleblower' looks like.
Snowden is also essentially trapped in Russia. The only reason he was able to find refuge there at all is because his revelations are a useful symbol of American hypocrisy any time the words "surveillance state" are bandied about in discussions about Russia. He's a smart guy and probably knows that the Kremlin's generosity will last only as long as he doesn't try to rock the boat by commenting on domestic Russian matters.
That said, the world I’m describing is ideal, unlike our own.
> To the Editor:
> Gideon Lewis-Kraus (Jan. 17) profiles the nascent field of ancient DNA, which in the last few years has contributed to a transformation in our understanding of the deep human past. His article touches on important issues that we, as a field, have yet to deal with fully: including how to handle ancient remains ethically and in a way that preserves them for future generations; how geneticists and archaeologists can work in equal partnerships that reflect true respect for the insights of different disciplines; and how ancient DNA technology, which at present is applied efficiently only in large labs, can be made accessible to a wider group of scholars.
> But Lewis-Kraus misunderstands several basic issues. First, he suggests that competition to publish is so extreme that standards become relaxed. As evidence, he cites a paper by my lab that was accepted on appeal after initial rejection, and another that was reviewed rapidly. In fact, mechanisms for appeal and expedited review when journals feel they are warranted are signs of healthy science, and both processes were carried out rigorously.
> Second, he contends that ancient DNA specialists favor simplistic and sweeping claims. As evidence, he suggests that in 2015 I argued that the population of Europe was “almost entirely” replaced by people from the Eastern European Steppe. On the contrary, the paper he references and indeed my whole body of work argues for complex mixture, not simple replacement. Lewis-Kraus also suggests that I claimed that our first study of the people of the Pacific island chain of Vanuatu “conclusively demonstrated” no Papuan ancestry. But the paper in question was crystal-clear that these people could have had some Papuan ancestry – and indeed, to support his claim, Lewis-Kraus could only cite his own notes from an interview I gave him long after I had published a second paper proving that there was indeed a small proportion of Papuan ancestry.
> Lewis-Kraus also suggests that I use small sample sizes to make unjustifiable sweeping claims. In fact, small sample sizes can be definitive when they yield results that are incompatible with prevailing theories, as when my colleagues and I described two samples that proved the existence of the Denisovans, a previously undocumented archaic human population. In my papers, I am careful to only make claims that can be supported by the data I have. In small-sample size studies, I emphasize that more samples are needed to flesh out the details of the initial findings. A major focus of my lab is generating the large data sets needed to do this.
> Lewis-Kraus’s critiques are based on incomplete facts and largely anonymous sources whose motivations are impossible to assess. Curiously, he did not ask me about the great majority of his concerns. Had he done so, the evidence underlying his thesis that my work is “indistinguishable from the racialized notions of the swashbuckling imperial era” would have fallen apart. The truth, and the main theme of my 2018 book Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, is exactly the opposite - namely, that ancient DNA findings have rendered racist and colonialist narratives untenable by showing that no human population is “pure” or unmixed. It is incumbent on scientists to avoid advocating for simplistic theories, and instead to pay attention to all available facts and come to nuanced conclusions. The same holds true for journalists reporting on science.
> David Reich
Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, Massachusetts