Thursday, April 14, 2005

A lesson on "spin"

I haven't read this article yet, but by the headline on Yahoo.com I get the feeling that I already know what it has to say: Americans Spend 6.6 Billion Hours Doing Taxes.

That's a bold headline. It makes one think, "dang, we sure do waste a lot of time figuring out our taxes. You know, we really ought to make it easier..."

But the secret to spin is what the reader does not hear. How many hours a year do Americans spend going to baseball games? Checking email? Sitting on their butts and watching mindless television? I bet those numbers are MUCH greater than 6.6 billion annually, but where is any mention of them in the article?

So what's the big deal? Well, if the average reader is anything like me, they probably don't get around to reading too many full articles, opting instead for the quick headlines. And if people don't realize that headlines are more than just mere summaries - they are in fact one individual's opinion - there's going to be a lot of shallow thinking going on out there. So wake up America: don't be fooled into reading just the headlines, give the whole article a once over. Don't just trust someone else's judgment - think for yourself.

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