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Posts Tagged ‘Lies’

When describing why Type II errors are preferable to Type I errors in class I often use the example of Andrew Wakefield’s discredited research on the link between vaccinations and autism, making the point that his false positive led to long-term changes in behavior. Recent revelations about Mike Daisey’s work on conditions in Apple factories overseas reinforce the ease with which a lie can become accepted:

There’s a popular online petition at Change.org which has amassed over 250,000 signatures. It begins:

You know what’s awesome? Listening to NPR podcasts through an Apple Airport, playing through a Mac laptop, while puttering about the kitchen. Do you know the fastest way to replace awesome with a terrible knot in your stomach? Learning that your beloved Apple products are made in factories where conditions are so bad, it’s not uncommon for workers to permanently lose the use of their hands.

Last week’s This American Life shined a spotlight on the working conditions in the Chinese factories where iPhones are made. Just one example of the hardships there: the men and women in these factories work very long days spent repeating the same motions over and over, which creates amped-up carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists and hands. This often results in them losing the use of their hands for the rest of their lives. This condition could be easily prevented if the workers were rotated through different positions in the factory, but they are not. Why? Because there are no labor laws in China to protect these people.

No one other than Mike Daisey has reported about such repetitive stress injuries. And he made it up. 250,000 people believed him — in no small part because of the credibility of Ira Glass and This American Life — and signed a petition. There is no larger truth here. This is not a mistake. This is simply a lie, a lie that was told to draw attention and create sympathy at the expense of the actual truth.

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