A Double Tragedy hits the British People

I was saddened to read of the tragic death of Prince Harry. The young Prince and Father killed in a horse-riding accident in the early hours of this morning. Only hours after the news of the Prince’s death broke, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, choked on a cucumber sandwich and couldn’t be revived when ambulances arrived at his home. The world is in shock.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

Then again, I could be making the whole thing up, couldn’t I?

Would you believe it?

It is so easy to post misleading information. A few twitter or facebook posts and a monster takes form, spreading like wildlfire across social media.


  • Taylor Swift has been declared dead in news reports, three times, but remains alive and well.
  • Some people stridently believe Paul McCartney died in 1966 and all appearances by him since, are mere look-a-like impersonators designed to keep the lie going. Confirmation for them is a song, by John Lennon and George Harrison which, when played backwards says, ‘Paul is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him.’

These examples are ludicrous, but is evidence that many folks will BELIEVE certain things about ANY subject.

Can we be certain just where our information comes from and whether it is grounded in fact or hearsay?

Person 1: Why are we still in lockdown? The Corona virus is nothing more than a cold.

Person 2: People don’t generally die from a cold. We must keep the borders closed.

We all have different opinions and perspectives and that makes for vigorous discussions around the world; discussions that sometimes affects our relationships. That is no less true for topics such as Climate Change and Corona.

Do you think about where your information is coming from?

Is it verified by authentic sources? What do you consider an authentic source?

A scholarly article backed up by studies? Anecdotal evidence? A blog post?

Photo by Life of Wu on

Confirmation Bias and the Dunning Kruger Effect

Is our upbringing, values, political persuasion or faith blocking our understanding? Are we only seeking out information that supports what we already think? This is known as Confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is even more pronounced in a world where we can use our social media to filter out information we don’t want to absorb and where we follow influencers who reinforce our existing beliefs.

Rebecca Huntley

We all struggle with something outside of our experience level, says J. Marshal Shepherd, an American Meteorologist. Because of this, scepticism and individual biases can block our understanding and skew our opinions.

Rebecca Huntley states that focus group participants, with no scientific training or credentials, will pick apart facts and figures regarding climate science. This is referred to as the Dunning-Kruger bias.

This human tendency for people to think they know more than they actually do, as well as underestimate what they don’t know, is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Cognitive Dissonance

Once people encounter a viewpoint that is at odds with what they perceive to be true, they experience discomfort, or cognitive dissonance.

Rebecca explains that when this occurs:

They then try to resolve their discomfort by arguing away the new evidence until it’s consistent with their own beliefs.

rebecca Huntely

Inadvertantly they reinforce the skewed perspectives.

Is Your View the only One?

So next time you read or hear a report:

Question the accuracy of the information and be aware of what it is that might be shaping our views and perceptions, (or misperceptions), about science and the world?

Ask Yourself What News Sources You Rely on?

Photo by Joshua Miranda on

Check Your Bias?

  • Take an inventory of your own bias
  • Read broadly
  • Evaluate your sources
  • Share this information with others

More about determining misinformation here.

blogging, History & Traditions

Google will Help You

In the almost forgotten days B.C. meaning, “Before Covid,” we might search for holiday accommodation, or sightseeing spots using Google. Sometimes Google suggests places we didn’t even know we wanted to go, based on our search history and we don’t have to ask.

hotel entrance stained glass

Whilst away on vacations, we might need to know a good place to eat nearby. No need to ask the concierge or at the Reception desk, as Google can tell you. Do you want to know what people thought of the atmosphere, the food, the service of that restaurant? Google knows better than any food critic. Directions to get there? Google will be delighted to share various routes and time frames. Not sure of the constituents of a fancy French dish on the menu: Google will be happy to elaborate.

You might have consulted the medical form – Dr Google – who compiles a list of potential medical conditions from your given symptoms.

Can’t find that recipe for Turmeric flavoured Brownies? Chef Google to the rescue.

So much of our news and information stems from social media pop-ups, short headlines or excerpts on Google. News services and some newspapers have been made redundant by Google. We are now so good at finding out information for ourselves, via Google, I wonder if journalism will become redundant too?

Syndicated news doesn’t seem to reflect differing viewpoints any longer. Instead, reporters grow more like the mouthpieces of social media behemoths, reporting on what they personally think of a topic, rather than any balanced, objective or original perspective.

There is little need for a media launch or PR campaign for a new product. With a small amount of money, social media marketing will use targeted advertising will reach your chosen audience and Google spiders automatically do the rest.

Google is omnipresent and listening. If you don’t believe me, try saying, “Hey Google” to your cell phone.

Time – less flowers

Google has made the world better by improving access to information, but it has also eliminated a multitude of jobs. How did we ever manage without it?

In referring to time, our future years may be B.G. and A.G. – Before Google and After Google.

1980’s was a year B.G. – being that time when we used Telephone books, Street Directories, read broadsheet Newspapers and Hard copy Dictionaries and more people had full time employment.

I remember those days.


Sunday Sayings – Being Open Minded and The Press

Refugees and Journalistic Bias

The MOTH and I were discussing the situation of the Tamil Family- the subjects of failed applications for refugee status, in Australia. This, despite country Queensland being their home of many years and the small community of Biloela wanting, and indeed fighting, to keep them in Australia. Federal court injunctions were heard and precedents for Ministerial intervention which had been allowed for others in a similar plight, (by the Home Affairs Minister) were denied for this family.

AS the MOTH is retired, he watches a lot of TV and is exposed to a steady diet of Murdoch influenced press. When presented with information from alternative or independent sources, he tends to dispute the premise of my often opposing argument. That said, our difference of opinion brought up an important point.

If someone wants has overly contrary views or even xenophobic views, is it always our right to convince them otherwise? We can of course, disagree with them, but arguing against them with logic, or other ammunition – isn’t that preventing them from expressing their own view, even if we think it is highly flawed?

If every news report has some subjectivity, how can any of us be so sure that our opinion, or counter argument, has not been formed without bias? Do others have a right to hold an illogical opinion, even if it is seems ridiculous?

Where am I

Keeping an Open Mind

Could we in fact, learn something from listening to their (potentially alien), rationale? Especially if, and this is my Key Point, we should listen to opposing views in order to keep a balanced and open mind?

CC0 Creative Commons

We might attempt to persuade others with facts, figures and irrefutable evidence, but will it win over their hearts and minds?

Because if we succeed in doing so, aren’t we then becoming oh-so-similar to that one-sided subliminal press story that I am so critical of? The ones that do not present all the facts in an inpartial way, or allow any difference of opinion at all?

To offer a balanced view, one has to offer bits of both sides of the argument, without judgement, don’t they?


What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.


Weekly Proverb

Every closed eye is not sleeping and every open eye is not seeing – African Proverb

I feel this proverb has much relevance to today’s thoughts.

Something to Ponder About this Sunday


Australian DJ Royal Prank ends in Nurse’s death. When does a joke go too far? Are Journalists to blame?

TV shows that promote and create entertainment are quite popular. Remember Candid Camera, Prank Patrol and others. It can be fun watching others be fooled, albeit temporarily. Many remember Hugh Jackman being the subject of a serious prank on US TV,  that made him believe he had set his friend’s house on fire by leaving the BBQ alight, and unattended.  Radio jocks and in particular Breakfast DJ’s have almost a mandatory requirement to entertain their listeners by making prank calls during their radio program. Where is the moral or ethical boundary for this behaviour? When does a joke go too far? The prank by two Australian Radio DJ’s has it seemed, sparked a furore over breaches of security for the royal family, patient confidentiality and ethical behaviour in regards to pranking.

Now, the news of the tragic suicide of the Nurse who transferred the call to the ward, has resulted in widespread condemnation for the Australian DJs, and it seems somehow, that many people think that the whole of Australia, as a nation, is to blame. As an Australian, I do not feel responsible, and it touches on a cultural issue. Australian’s don’t take themselves seriously, they mock and tease each other, and like to have a good laugh at ourselves and each other. This is part of our national psyche. It is not malicious, but in other cultures, it could be taken as malicious. If the DJ’s had called a hospital in Australia, this would probably not have happened. I have said before: Humour does not always translate well across cultures and languages, and misinterpretations often occur. The DJ’ got lucky ( or unlucky,as it now seems) as the call was accidentally put through, causing British Home Security to be outraged about security for the Royal family, the Hospital to be embarrassed and the poor victims affected reeling.
This is not what the DJ’s intended at all, and there is now concern for their emotional state. Their jobs and lives will probably be ruined forever. How would one cope knowing that something that was meant to entertain and cause a few smiles, inadvertently contributed to the death of some poor soul?

Then there is the victim herself. I truly feel for the family of this victim, and the Nurse herself, who perhaps felt overwhelming pressure and humiliation from the knee-jerk reactions of a subjective international and British press, who ” could not understand how anyone could fall for such terrible accents. “

Then there is the reaction from the Hospital towards their employees.  I don’t believe for one second that there was no disciplinary action towards either Nurse involved. Having worked as a Nurse, I can say that if I did something similar, I would have been raked over a hell pit of coals, with gaping crocodiles reaching up to take bites out of me. Nursing Supervisor Matrons of old would have torn stripes of me, and made me feel completely worthless.  With the hospital a subject of security breach of the Royal family, and their international reputation tarnished beyond repair, coupled with a potential threat of legal action, I really find it hard to believe that there was NO disciplinary action by the hospital. Rather, I am sure she was made aware very quickly of the consequences of her actions. Having said all that: we may never know what prompted her to take her own life, but extremely important to note is NO lesson has yet been learned, as the same emotional judgements are now directed towards the Australians inciting further rage and condemnation. over the internet.

Is it not the press who should feel responsible for inciting anger and humiliation? Where  is their ethical and moral boundary? They pass on these messages interpreted and biased towards their own viewpoint and experience and values, with little regard for the knock on consequences. My childhood dentist always maintained that journalists were the bane of society, so quick to judge and influence public opinion yet remain immune from the knock on effects. I don’t hear anyone blaming the press – the evil messenger who delivered this message with such high and mighty condemnation.

I am not perfect either. I struggle not to pass judgement on others in my microcosm of society. But I am not an international journalist, and I don’t broadcast every misdemeanour to the world, and yet here I am writing about it on the internet, a forum open to the world, well at least WordPress readers. So I think this is an important article to be really telling of modern society.  As it says:

“For now, the vindictiveness of much of the reaction is perhaps a small measure of just how alienated from our better selves so many of us have become.”

From the Guardian:

‘The late philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in the 50s that if prevailing trends that put economic production before human engagement continued, we would all eventually occupy a dangerously unbalanced society, peopled by alienated individuals living atomised existences, lacking in empathy, quick to judge because judgment by others is always anticipated, equipped with “the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it”. What might halt the march to misery, he argued idealistically in The Sane Society, was sharing experience, living by “love, reason and faith”.

Certainly, in the decades since then, aided more recently by the instant opinionator Twitter, blogs and social networks, our inclination to judge, critique, analyse, blame and scorn, often on the basis of next to no knowledge, has grown incrementally. We are propelled like narcissistic toddlers in a permanent state of tantrum to place ourselves in the centre of the dramas, scandals and terrible tragedies of total strangers. We cannot bear to witness a set of circumstances that remain private and resistant to our obsessive compulsion to know all and pass judgment, no matter what the consequences to the sometimes random recipients of blame.

On Friday, Jacintha “Jess” Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, is believed to have taken her own life. She had been duped by the prank phone call to the King Edward VII hospital, during the time the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient. The call was made by Mel Greig and Michael Christian, two Australian DJs working for 2DayFM in Sydney, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles. Mrs Saldanha had worked at the hospital as a nurse for four years and was living in its nursing accommodation. A family statement issued on Friday night said: “We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha.”

The hospital has spoken highly of Mrs Saldanha; the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have expressed their regret. However, much else that has been said and done since then displays an alarming lack of perspective and a malevolent desire to exact restitution on a scale that appears to minimise the plight of a family grieving for the loss of a mother, daughter, wife and sister in circumstances nobody yet can know – and may never know.

The two DJs have been threatened and abused on Twitter and accused of having “blood on their hands”. Much joy would be lost to the world if it was calculated every prank could possibly end in tragedy. The two are suspended from their radio station. The post-Leveson press are accused of hounding a woman in such a way that it might have contributed to her death. The hospital says Mrs Saldanha had not been disciplined over the call.

Some suicides do result in valuable lessons being learned and they require behaviour to be changed. A bullied child, say, or the desperate, overlooked mental health needs of a woman, or the death of a father who also kills his children, an act of terrible aggression, impotence and rage. Lessons may yet emerge from Mrs Saldanha’s apparent decision to kill herself, but when and if that should happen, that is the time, if required, for genuine culpability to be accorded. For now, the vindictiveness of much of the reaction is perhaps a small measure of just how alienated from our better selves so many of us have become.’

Journalism can be used for good, but also for bad purposes. The above is an intriguing article, and I am also guilty of judging others, and fight with myself often about what I think, is  this less than desirable trait. Perhaps the lack of instant communication and instant “news” that we have today, contributes to our feeling qualified to pass comment. If we received this “news” by letter four months down the track, would we be so quick to judge, or would time give us more patience and empathy? Time to digest and simmer down our anger, and heal our ragged emotions? Something to ponder about? I will for one, try to learn a lesson here, and refrain from gossiping about others, and consider just what effect my values and bias has in interpreting behaviour. If everyone could do this, even for a little while, then Jacintha’s death will not be in vain and the world will be a less vindictive place.