21 Oct 2016

New Threats: Media Barons & News Deserts

There’s a new study published by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism detailing a pretty serious threat by the forces of Stupid. The report finds that since many newspapers are now owned by hedge funds and other outside corporate groups (with no particular sense of civic responsibility);

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Screenshot of GIF from Chequeado and UNO
08 Oct 2016

Great Idea: The Fact-Check GIF

Here’s a great idea for newspapers everywhere: Turn fact-checking into a fun animated GIF. It’s kind of a face-palm, why-isn’t-this-happening-everywhere moment, actually. And that’s why it’s a great idea – because of it’s surprising simplicity. Animated GIFs tend to get more engagement in social media You want as many people

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22 Sep 2016

This Climate Change Cartoon Is Alarming

The good people at xkcd had some viral success earlier this week with a cartoon graph of human history and the acceleration of climate change relative to the last 22,000 years. I don’t know how long the graph has actually been around, but it definitely popped up in a couple places

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EpiPen Tycoon videogame home screen
08 Sep 2016

Pharmaceutical Price Gouging: The Video Game

This is the second video game I’ve stumbled across in the past few months that used interactivity to create a visceral emotional response to a contemporary event. There’s this moment of recognition as you’re playing where everything that’s wrong with the situation becomes more real. It’s persuasive, and it’s something

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John Oliver on the show speaking at his desk
09 Aug 2016

John Oliver’s Dissection of Contemporary Journalism is Pure Gold

It seems like once every few months John Oliver just blows my mind. This made the rounds in the jouralism social media in a major way when it came out — probably because it cuts right down to the bone for a lot of folks who work at (or used

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dancing guy
02 Aug 2016

Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy

When it comes to information translation, we tend to focus on intentional acts — creations that purposefully transpose an idea or data set into a different medium. But, this video is more of a found-footage revelation that successfully illustrates one of the foundational principles of leadership. It’s not a movement

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19 Jul 2016

Read: The Smarter Faster Better Way to Deal with the Stupid Gap

Charles Duhigg, in chapter 8 of his latest book Smarter, Faster, Better, perfectly illustrates the challenge of, as well as outlines a solution to, information overload. 6 years ago Patrick (aka General Knowledge) and I unknowingly dove head first into this world of cognitive psychology. It was filled with high-falutin

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A Screenshot from the video game Easy Level Life
16 Jul 2016

A Message from #BlackLivesMatter as Video Game

I stumbled across a juicy morsel about a video game called Easy Level Life that was featured on Kill Screen and Okayplayer recently. It’s an interesting piece of information translation, taking a commonly asked question (mostly by white people who’ve never had a negative experience with the police): “What did they

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05 Jul 2016

Listen: Sometimes The Truth is Not Enough

No that’s not the title of a long lost Bond flick (#TeamBrosnan). It’s the main takeaway of a recent episode of one of my podcast obsessions: Only Human, from long time War on Stupid Idol WNYC. The episode provides a few of the starkest cautionary tales about what’s at stake

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29 Jun 2016

Hero Salute: The Grandfather of Data Visualization

Data Viz O.G. There’s a really interesting article over on Atlas Obscura about one bonnie Scot named William Playfair, who began making illustrated charts and graphs in the late-18th century — one of the early (or earliest) practitioners of modern data visualization). Unfortunately he lived at a time when the

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05 May 2016

Fact-Checking in the New Information Age

Brave new world There is very little doubt in my mind that the next front in the War on Stupid will play out across a field of algorithms. It already is to an increasing degree, as people discover endless mountains of content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. There’s so much

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chart of land claims in antarctica
13 Apr 2016

Who Owns Antarctica?

Here’s a question we never thought to ask. Fortunately, there’s an already answer — although you’ll have to take that ride for yourself if you want to know. #nospoilers It’s a convoluted tale, as you might expect. It’s creator, CGP Grey, has a channel filled with some pretty incredible explainer

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28 Feb 2016

Hero Salute: What Issue Advocates Can Learn from John Oliver

Last year, the War on Stupid talked about how John Oliver was a model for high-quality information translation practices. He has the ability to take complex issues like the prison-industrial complex or net neutrality and repackage into something more readily accessible for laypeople. Earlier in February, communications shop Blue Engine Media dropped a similar read, but focused

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15 Feb 2016

The Big Short and Information Translation

Adam Mckay’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book of (nearly) the same title is a perfect embodiment of the ideas we’ve been espousing here at The War on Stupid for several years now: The way to help people acheive a deeper understanding of complex issues is to serve the explanation with a

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A google news alert for "making sense of complex issues."
21 Jan 2016

Media Fails

The popular media must not be doing a very good job because I set this news alert up more than a year ago and I still haven’t gotten anything delivered to my inbox. And then people wonder why political discourse has devolved and civility has declined. For American Democracy to

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12 Jul 2015

Rethinking Government

Here’s a great example of how to make government less stupid (because that behemoth of bureaucracy couldn’t be more broken at this point, at least at the federal level). Obama has recruited a startup operation, now 140 people strong and including former Silicon Valley wiz-kids in its ranks, in order to reimagine how

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11 Jun 2015

Are Movies the New Journalism?

The Columbia Journalism Review makes a compelling case that we’re living in a Golden Age of documentaries and that filmmaking will soon eclipse longform journalism as a primary means of conveying complex information. “What makes documentary film a better truth-delivery system than print? The most effective documentaries combine advocacy with immediacy. Film

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25 May 2015

O.P.L.? Other People’s Listicles

A few years ago, someone realized that the internet and lists go together like milk and Oreos. The list is an amazing medium for transmitting text in the harried digital environment of the web. It’s small chunks (easy to understandvisually and quick to read) that are prioritized in order of

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13 Feb 2015

The State of Science Journalism

There was a great piece on Fishbowl DC about the lack of science journalism in America and how it affected public policy. This followed directly on the heels of Congressional votes on whether climate change was real and whether it was caused by humans or not — so needless to say,

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pbs miami backdrop
27 Dec 2014

An Advanced Degree in Fighting Stupid

The University of Miami has created a multi-disciplinary MFA combining Journalism, Data Visualization and Mapping. It sounds like it’ll churn out amazing soldiers ready to fight the War on Stupid. According to professor Alberto Cairo: In the three years that I’ve been a professor of data visualization and infographics at

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