Here are five things I found interesting while on the internet today:
1. We must stop tolerating the police and prosecutors who do not seem to care if their lies and mistakes put innocent people in jail. ProPublica’s Brett Murphy exposes how a small-town Ohio police officer has successfully spread the junk science idea that it is possible to tell if a 911 caller is lying. Murphy’s article, They Called 911 for Help. Police and Prosecutors Used a New Junk Science to Decide They Were Liars, made me angrier with each paragraph. Police and prosecutors who believe in this junk science have sent innocent people to jail. Here’s one example shared by Murphy:
“Almost everything Carpenter said — and didn’t say — was evidence of deception, according to the state police agent who analyzed her call.
Lewis found 39 guilty indicators and zero indicators of innocence. Carpenter was arrested eight days later. Newspapers and television stations published the 56-year-old’s mugshot.
She spent three months in jail before someone else confessed to the crime.” (emphasis added)
This outcome is wrong. We need to keep junk science out of our courtrooms. And I was also not surprised to learn that the person pushing this fallacy is a police officer who has made misogynistic and transphobic posts on Facebook.
2. It turns out election disinformation isn’t just for national elections. The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Barabak focuses his column, It’s not just Russia and China targeting Washington. Disinformation is a problem in local races too, on a school board race in the San Ramon Unified School District. This school district is in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, about 20 minutes south of where I live. A radical conservative candidate won the election by 236 votes. But, as Barabak explains, supporters of the winning candidate spread a lie about an opponent’s background. It could have been a factor in the result. Barabak’s column does a great job of amplifying the original reporting in this story by the East Bay Times’ Rachel Heimann Mercader.
3. Parker Malloy shares was she wrote for the annual journalism predictions effort by Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab in this post at her The Present Age Substack. She explains what she believes the dire financial situation in the media ecosystem will likely cause. “I worry that all of this will make the media ecosystem so weak that what’s left will be a mess of “pink slime” content, politically driven propaganda, and a reliance on curated material from outlets chasing new subscriptions and an ever-shrinking share of ad revenue, tied to the whims and business decisions of billionaire social media tycoons. And that’s where the moral panics come in.” I fear that’s correct. Malloy also highlights some other predictions you may find helpful to have in mind for the coming year.
4. Molly Knight is one of my favorite baseball writers, and she recaps her 2022 in this post on her The Long Game Substack. It hasn’t been an easy year for her, but she’s continued to write outstanding articles about many subjects and build a fun community. Even if you don’t like baseball, reading how the COVID-19 infection she got at the All-Star Game should remind all of us that we still don’t know how much this can impact all of us. As Knight writes, “I mention all of the stumbles I endured in 2022 because I know so many of you are hurting during this time of year, and it can feel so isolating to go online and see the curated and airbrushed lives of friends and strangers on social media who seem to have it all together.”
5. The Guardian shares its list of the world‘s top 100 female soccer players. Reviewing the profiles of these players is a great way to prepare for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand beginning on July 20. Meg Swanick listed the Americans in the top 100:
16- Cat Macario
18- Alex Morgan
21- Soph Smith
29- Lindsey Horan
33- Rose Lavelle
36- Mal Pugh
47- Trinity Rodman
66- Naomi Girma
70- Megan Rapinoe
88- Mia Fishel
93- Becky Sauerbrunn
And, something I want to do as many days as possible because the issue is so essential: Jessica Valenti at Abortion, Every Day recaps the news from across the country regarding reproductive freedom and sexual and reproductive health care. She explains what is happening in Louisiana: “Well, we’re seeing that terror in stark action: OBGYNs in the state are refusing to see pregnant women until they’re 12 weeks along, because they’re afraid that the high risk for miscarriage in that first trimester could end up making them a target for investigation.” Valenti covers what is happening around the country, including another story that explains why we need to be concerned about protecting the health privacy of women and other people who can become pregnant.