Saturday, March 14, 2015
Media presents incomplete research on Whitey Bulger as usual
A few months ago I did a blog about Child abuse and bullying link in study being long overdue; I expressed concern about the fact that the Mass Media hasn’t done nearly as good a job as they could and should have reporting on the root causes of violence and crime. This isn’t due to lack of good research that has been available to them; since as I indicated there is plenty of it available to them.
I had hoped that this might be the beginning of improved reporting on the subject; although I didn’t really expect it.
Unfortunately they haven’t done so; they haven’t provided much if any additional research that I know of and they have gone back to publishing articles that omit many of the most important facts even when they’re available to them. This doesn’t mean that the most important information about preventing violence isn’t available to the public at all; however it does mean that the information about this and many other subjects that is presented to the majority is mostly flawed. Only those who take the trouble to check the library or consult with a truly reliable source on any given subject can hope to obtain reliable information.
The Mass Media routinely presents unreliable information on this and any other subject then they repeat that information over and over again without much if any reliable scrutiny. One of the most recent examples is of course the Casey Anthony trial which could have used the opportunity to present a much better picture into the true causes of violence.
The latest example involves an article about “Whitey’s Generation,” by the Boston Globe which also wrote the article about the link between child abuse and bullying. The article isn’t actually about Whitey Bulger since as they admit he clearly wasn’t involved in the study they focused on. However the study they mentioned still had an enormous amount of good material which they could have done a much better job presenting if they tried. This is actually an old study by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck and there has since been a lot of follow up material that reinforces the conclusions that the Glueck’s came to. Instead of trying to present this in a manner that could enable the public to better understand this they seem to have attempted to present it in a manner that would make for a more entertaining story without shedding much if any light on the root causes of violence. They focused a fair amount of attention on the fact that there was “a trove of unpublished information about the gangster’s childhood peers sitting and gathering dust in a Harvard Law School basement.”
I don’t doubt this is true; however I suspect that this may have been the work product that may be typical in research when trying to study something; a large portion of this may have been material that they simply didn’t have much scientific value for the purposes they were researching although the media may have found some dramatic value in the claim that there is a vast trove gathering dust. There is also an enormous amount of material that the Glueck’s did publish plus follow up that other researchers published that they thought did more to explain causation in a manner that would help the public understand cause and effect of violence. One of these researchers who followed up on this is Philip Greven, author of “Spare the Child,” whom I have mentioned before; he cited the work done by the Gluecks in his book. Even if they had stuck with the work of the Glueck’s, which is over fifty years old, they could have done a better job presenting this to the public.
The Glueck's apparently ran into some resistance from other academic sources when they first published their work in 1950. This isn’t surprising since it went against the beliefs of many people at that time. They were still running into resistance in the academic world in the sixties when they provided some additional backup for their claims and attempted to refute some of their critics. In 1964 fourteen years after they first published their work Sheldon Glueck wrote, “Concern with establishing some all-unifying theory in Criminology has assumed almost obsessive dimensions among some researchers. We suspect that some of this is due to an attempt to justify the status of a particular discipline as truly ‘scientific’.” (Ventures in Criminology: Selected recent papers by Sheldon Glueck p.79) The Glueck’s didn’t claim to have all the answers but they clearly had some evidence that indicated what some of the most important contributing causes to later violence is including the impact of a father who was emotionally distorted. The also wrote, “One more illustration of the clinical as well as scientific relevancy of our newly uncovered knowledge of the selective impact of the environment on children having certain traits may be drawn from the influence of rearing by an emotionally distorted father on the delinquency of his son."
"We discovered that rearing by such a father tends to develop certain characteristics in a son which were found in Unraveling to be much more frequent among the delinquents in general than among the non-delinquents. These traits include, to mention but a few, an excessive tendency to flight into phantasy, marked dependency attitudes, preponderance of introversive trends. It was, however, also established in Family Environment and Delinquency that the chances that a boy with an emotionally disturbed father would become a delinquent are enhanced if the boy has feelings of inadequacy……” (p.77) This is of course not the only contributing factor but it is one of many which the Glueck’s and others provided evidence for. This debate has been going on since then and it continues today; however for the most part what is being presented to the public is mostly the views of those with the most political power not the views of those with the best research that would stand up to scrutiny if more rational people were inclined to look at it. One of those credible researchers is Murray Straus who has provided an enormous amount of social statistical data to indicate that there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that violence starts young and escalates from there. Other researchers have studied it in different manners and have come to similar conclusions. One of the most notable critics of this school of thought is Robert Hare author of “Without Conscience,” who has more or less dismissed this research out of hand without actually taking a close look at it. Instead he makes many appeals to emotion and caters to the existing beliefs of many members of the public. He hasn’t appeared on TV much more than the more credible researchers but many other so called experts that have used the same tactics have. Hare’s sources include many of the same TV shows that appeal to emotion without much additional research except for some that he does himself which doesn’t seem to be very credible at a close look. In some cases he even cites some sources that indicate that early abuse is a contributing cause to later violence yet he simply ignores it.
This is typical of the way the media handles any given subject as far as I can tell. They’re not set up to investigate or educate the public on anything; instead they seem to be more interested in telling them what they think the public wants to hear or what they think will help advance the causes that the advertiser or owners of the Mass Media want to advance. The Mass Media has been consolidated into a small group of corporations with the same interests and they don’t seem to have any desire to educate the public in a manner that might contradict their own best interest. In some cases if the public speaks out loud enough then they may respond but in many case the public doesn’t have the education they need to know what to speak out about. The inadequate reporting on this subject has led to many more social problems than we need to have and policies that involve building more prisons when we should be doing more to build more schools or provide other social services that enable many troubled children to avoid turning into delinquent teens and violent adults. There is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate what kind of programs would help reduce many of these problems but in many cases they would also contradict the ideologies of those with the most political power and the control over the Mass Media. This isn’t limited to research that indicates what causes violence; there is also a lot of good research about how the marketers are using child psychologists to market to children even though it comes at a great costs; and an enormous amount of research to indicate that the corporations are involved in an enormous amount of corrupt activities that are receiving little or no attention in the media like planned obsolescence and environmental destruction in poor areas.
People that aren’t familiar with any given subject may not even realize that they’re being misled by the Mass Media as a result of incompetence or for any other reasons including propaganda purposes. There needs to be a greater grass roots effort to inform the public about how incompetent the Mass Media is on any given subject and to let them know where they can find more credible information. In many cases this will involve simply encouraging people to do more reading of material from the library that is already there, assuming people live near a reasonably well-funded library. For most people this should be pretty obvious due to the incredible incompetence of the Mass Media on issues like the Casey Anthony trial however many of them are complacent or worse, they may be emotionally attached to some of the distractions being presented to them by the Mass Media. Another possibility would be to take better advantage of the alternative media outlets available on the web. I’ve been thinking about creating my own more organized list of lessor know alternative media outlets and have some of them book marked at one location or another. If anyone has any favorites for more reliable investigators please feel free to post them and I may follow this up with another blog on a larger list of other news outlets.
On a seemingly unrelated subject yesterday they reported the final landing of the space shuttle on both CNN and Fox news while MSNBC the so-called liberal station was running Morning Joe for the second time out of three that morning. They routinely run the same exact show three times in a row; this is typical of the way most if not all the major cable channels operate. There are plenty of people that are capable of producing educational material much better than what they present without any extra costs; yet they don’t have access to the Mass Media. In fact there are almost certainly many more educational materials that are much better available on the web and many of the people that produced them would almost certainly allow the Mass Media to show it if it gave them an opportunity to get their points across; however the Mass Media still won’t allow it; instead they continue presenting more material from demagogues that do much more harm than good to our society.
Whenever someone complains about this they start saying that what the critics are calling for is censorship; which is often false. The real censors are the ones that won’t allow any good educational material on the major networks. If the critics were claiming that they couldn’t play any of the material from demagogues then perhaps the media might have some justification; however if the Mass Media essentially says that they are the only ones that have any right to decide what is presented to the public they are clearly the ones that are participating in censorship. Of course they don’t say it quite this blatantly but they demonstrate this with their actions. Instead of providing anything that remotely resembles education they provide an endless amount of demagoguery mixed in with flirting commentators that have nothing of any relevance to say.
Many other lower profile people including me have attempted to do a little to address the subjects that the Mass media have ignored so there is plenty of information available to those that are willing to look for it; however until we have some form of media reform there will be little or no help from either the Mass Media or the government in solving the most important social problems in this country. The most powerful institutions in this country are clearly corrupt and unwilling to address these problems. To read my past blogs on this subject that were written based on evidence that precedes the article about Bulger and excerpts from several books on the subject see the following:
Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence?
Daddy’s Hands, Hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Philip Greven: “Spare the Child” 1991
Alice Miller: “For Your Own Good” 1990
Murray Straus: "Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Children" 2001
James Garbarino and Ellen deLara: "And Words Can Hurt Forever: how to protect adolescents from bullying, harassment, and emotional violence" 2002
Joanne Scaglione, Arrica Rose Scaglione: "Bully-Proofing Children: a practical, hands-on guide to stop bullying" 2006
Some of you might remember Bruce Springsteen noticed how bad the Mass Media was getting years ago.
(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)