Fox News Website Fixated on Death

fox bad news

The Fox News website’s obsession with death far exceeds that of its rival MSNBC and outpaces the sensationalistic National Enquirer website. Fox News executives and advertisers know their audience well, obviously, and provide the type of news and entertainment their visitors prefer to read.

A month-long analysis of the Fox News website (www.foxnews.com) reveals that its headlines and homepage text contain far more instances of terminology related to death when compared to MSNBC (www.msnbc.com).

The Fox News website statistically exceeds MSNBC in the use of root words such as “kill,” “murder,” “fatality,” “death,” “dead,” and “suicide.”

The Fox News website presents death-related words an average of 13 times a day on its homepage, while MSNBC uses the same words an average of once a day.

Peter Bakke, the study’s author and former newspaper executive, commented, “There’s an old adage in the news business, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ The Fox News website uses death-related terms a great deal. The numbers are remarkable and are an indication that Fox News editors know what type of news attracts their audience. Clearly, Fox News’ readers have an affinity for news more like that of the National Enquirer than hard news found on other national news sites such as MSNBC.”

Bakke added, “Click analysis tells Fox News editors and ececutives what their readers like to read. Obvioulsy death sells. If you visit the Fox News website right now, you’ll likely find not one, but several sensational articles about death and general mayhem.”

The frequency of death-related terms on the Fox News website (13 times per day) also exceeds that of the infamous “catch abd kill” National Enquirer (12 times per day).

Data appears below for terms associated with the various root word topics for each website in the month-long study. The sample consisted of 23 random same-day observations over a 31-day period.

The study was performed by Peter Bakke of Tucson, AZ, who is a former newspaper executive. Contact information is below.

Various word root usage from the month-long study of www.foxnews.com, www.msnbc.com, www.nationalenquirer.com :

FOX NEWS SEX      DEATH          DEMOCRAT          REPUBLICAN
Average use per day  2.74 12.61    3.00  1.43
 Std. Dev  2.43  4.91     2.95  1.41
MSNBC NEWS SEX      DEATH             DEMOCRAT          REPUBLICAN
Average use per day  0.74  1.35    1.87  1.32
Std. Dev  1.05  1.15    2.10  1.36
NATIONAL ENQUIRER SEX      DEATH             DEMOCRAT          REPUBLICAN
Average use per day  4.05  11.73    0.00  0.00
Std. Dev  4.41  4.61    0.00  0.00

Contact:

Peter Bakke

Tucson, AZ

520-261-2090

peter @ bakke.com

Is Western Civilization truly superior? To What? In What Way?

I didn’t expect to experience an epiphany when I visited the Tucson Museum of Art for the first time.

My visit was late on a weekday. The museum was nearly deserted with a sprinkling of security personnel and a few clerks manning the entrances. The serenity I experienced by taking in some “culture” that day was soon disturbed.

The violence depicted in the museum’s section of Spanish Colonial art was stunning. The collection included a painting of St. Catherine with a severed head at her feet. Another painting depicted St. James killing a Muslim. Yet another oversized painting was titled “The Slaughter of the Innocents” in which a baby is shown impaled by a pike, among other scenes of horror.

Next, I discerned a smallish white marble sculpture of something lying on a plate under plexiglass. I was fairly certain from 30 feet away what I was looking at. As I drew near, I realized that I was correct in my precognition. The lump of sculpture was the severed head of John the Baptist.

After experiencing these unsettling scenes, I gladly moved on to the display of pre-Columbian Latin American art.

My serenity was restored.

In contrast to the brutality just described, the magnificence of nature and the wonder that is man was clearly on display, created by ancient native artists.

Included in this section were splendid examples of pottery etched with intricate designs and the beauty of the human form. Dazzling ceremonial animal masks looked down upon me. Nature and man were depicted as being good, not debased.

We know, of course, that all cultures have their dark sides, Latin American civilizations are no exception. However, violence was not a preoccupation of the Mesoamerican artists I encountered that day, unlike the dreadful and explicit offerings provided by artists of the supposedly culturally, morally, and religiously superior Europeans.

This got me rethinking our traditional teachings of Western history in relation to others on the planet.

Exactly who is civilized and who is savage? Does the depiction of violence in European art serve some higher purpose or does it unwittingly reveal a telling flaw?

Extreme violence is expressed not only in Western art but also in many of its most ancient and revered texts. The Bible and the Iliad both teem with accounts of appalling brutality.

So, my epiphany was this: Who has the standing to declare some civilizations ‘savage’ and others ‘superior’?

Louis Pasteur once wrote that “I am on the edge of mysteries and the veil is getting thinner and thinner.” I feel my own veil of ignorance has been lifted to improve my understanding that no civilization is inherently superior, much less perfect, especially when violence enters the equation.

My hope is that by recognizing our own fierce Western heritage, we can deal more humanely with those at home and abroad who differ from us. We need to understand that we possess brutal proclivities that have been instilled in us for millennia by texts, traditions, and, in part, by art.

Business hours

We’re OPEN Most days about 9 or 10, occasionally as early as 7, But some days as late as 12 or 1. We’re CLOSED About 5:30 or 6, occasionally about 4 or 5, But sometimes as late as 11 or 12. Some days or afternoons we aren’t here at all But lately, we’ve been here just about all the time, Except when we’re someplace else. But we should be here then, too.  …  sign seen in Henniker, New Hampshire.

 

Listen to the words of wisdom

I just want to live in a sane, global, civil society where religion no longer divides human beings from one another. It is time we recognized that we are all members of the same sect: humanity.  – Sam Harris

Enhanced photo of Earth rising. NASA

“O my children! my poor children!
Listen to the words of wisdom,
Listen to the words of warning,
From the lips of the Great Spirit,
From the Master of Life, who made you!
“I have given you lands to hunt in,
I have given you streams to fish in,
I have given you bear and bison,
I have given you roe and reindeer,
I have given you brant and beaver,
Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl,
Filled the rivers full of fishes:
Why then are you not contented?
Why then will you hunt each other?
“I am weary of your quarrels,
Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
Of your wranglings and dissensions;
All your strength is in your union,
All your danger is in discord;
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Milton Friedman, the Father of our Demise, said that the Concept of Social Responsibility is Subversive.

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits!

by Milton Friedman

The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970. Copyright @ 1970 by The New York Times Company.

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

The discussions of the “social responsibili­ties of business” are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that “business” has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. [Peter Bakke: But businesses are NOW treated as people per the law.] A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.

Presumably, the individuals who are to be responsible are businessmen, which means in­dividual proprietors or corporate executives. Most of the discussion of social responsibility is directed at corporations, so in what follows I shall mostly neglect the individual proprietors and speak of corporate executives.

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. Of course, in some cases his employers may have a different objective. A group of persons might establish a corporation for an eleemosynary purpose–for exam­ple, a hospital or a school. The manager of such a corporation will not have money profit as his objective but the rendering of certain services.

In either case, the key point is that, in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Needless to say, this does not mean that it is easy to judge how well he is performing his task. But at least the criterion of performance is straightforward, and the persons among whom a voluntary contractual arrangement exists are clearly defined.

Of course, the corporate executive is also a person in his own right. As a person, he may have many other responsibilities that he rec­ognizes or assumes voluntarily–to his family, his conscience, his feelings of charity, his church, his clubs, his city, his country. He may feel impelled by these responsibilities to de­vote part of his income to causes he regards as worthy, to refuse to work for particular corpo­rations, even to leave his job, for example, to join his country’s armed forces. If we wish, we may refer to some of these responsibilities as “social responsibilities.” But in these respects he is acting as a principal, not an agent; he is spending his own money or time or energy, not the money of his employers or the time or energy he has contracted to devote to their purposes. If these are “social responsibili­ties,” they are the social responsibilities of in­dividuals, not of business.

What does it mean to say that the corpo­rate executive has a “social responsibility” in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation, even though a price increase would be in the best interests of the corporation. Or that he is to make expendi­tures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the cor­poration or that is required by law in order to contribute to the social objective of improving the environment. Or that, at the expense of corporate profits, he is to hire “hardcore” un­employed instead of better qualified available workmen to contribute to the social objective of reducing poverty.

In each of these cases, the corporate exec­utive would be spending someone else’s money for a general social interest. Insofar as his actions in accord with his “social responsi­bility” reduce returns to stockholders, he is spending their money. Insofar as his actions raise the price to customers, he is spending the customers’ money. Insofar as his actions lower the wages of some employees, he is spending their money.

The stockholders or the customers or the employees could separately spend their own money on the particular action if they wished to do so. The executive is exercising a distinct “social responsibility,” rather than serving as an agent of the stockholders or the customers or the employees, only if he spends the money in a different way than they would have spent it.

But if he does this, he is in effect imposing taxes, on the one hand, and deciding how the tax proceeds shall be spent, on the other.

This process raises political questions on two levels: principle and consequences. On the level of political principle, the imposition of taxes and the expenditure of tax proceeds are gov­ernmental functions. We have established elab­orate constitutional, parliamentary and judicial provisions to control these functions, to assure that taxes are imposed so far as possible in ac­cordance with the preferences and desires of the public–after all, “taxation without repre­sentation” was one of the battle cries of the American Revolution. We have a system of checks and balances to separate the legisla­tive function of imposing taxes and enacting expenditures from the executive function of collecting taxes and administering expendi­ture programs and from the judicial function of mediating disputes and interpreting the law.

Here the businessman–self-selected or appointed directly or indirectly by stockhold­ers–is to be simultaneously legislator, execu­tive and, jurist. He is to decide whom to tax by how much and for what purpose, and he is to spend the proceeds–all this guided only by general exhortations from on high to restrain inflation, improve the environment, fight poverty and so on and on.

The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal. This jus­tification disappears when the corporate ex­ecutive imposes taxes and spends the pro­ceeds for “social” purposes. He becomes in effect a public employee, a civil servant, even though he remains in name an employee of a private enterprise. On grounds of political principle, it is intolerable that such civil ser­vants–insofar as their actions in the name of social responsibility are real and not just win­dow-dressing–should be selected as they are now. If they are to be civil servants, then they must be elected through a political process. If they are to impose taxes and make expendi­tures to foster “social” objectives, then politi­cal machinery must be set up to make the as­sessment of taxes and to determine through a political process the objectives to be served.

This is the basic reason why the doctrine of “social responsibility” involves the acceptance of the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce re­sources to alternative uses.

On the grounds of consequences, can the corporate executive in fact discharge his al­leged “social responsibilities?” On the other hand, suppose he could get away with spending the stockholders’ or customers’ or employees’ money. How is he to know how to spend it? He is told that he must contribute to fighting inflation. How is he to know what ac­tion of his will contribute to that end? He is presumably an expert in running his company–in producing a product or selling it or financing it. But nothing about his selection makes him an expert on inflation. Will his hold­ ing down the price of his product reduce infla­tionary pressure? Or, by leaving more spending power in the hands of his customers, simply divert it elsewhere? Or, by forcing him to produce less because of the lower price, will it simply contribute to shortages? Even if he could an­swer these questions, how much cost is he justi­fied in imposing on his stockholders, customers and employees for this social purpose? What is his appropriate share and what is the appropri­ate share of others?

And, whether he wants to or not, can he get away with spending his stockholders’, cus­tomers’ or employees’ money? Will not the stockholders fire him? (Either the present ones or those who take over when his actions in the name of social responsibility have re­duced the corporation’s profits and the price of its stock.) His customers and his employees can desert him for other producers and em­ployers less scrupulous in exercising their so­cial responsibilities.

This facet of “social responsibility” doc­ trine is brought into sharp relief when the doctrine is used to justify wage restraint by trade unions. The conflict of interest is naked and clear when union officials are asked to subordinate the interest of their members to some more general purpose. If the union offi­cials try to enforce wage restraint, the consequence is likely to be wildcat strikes, rank­-and-file revolts and the emergence of strong competitors for their jobs. We thus have the ironic phenomenon that union leaders–at least in the U.S.–have objected to Govern­ment interference with the market far more consistently and courageously than have business leaders.

The difficulty of exercising “social responsibility” illustrates, of course, the great virtue of private competitive enterprise–it forces people to be responsible for their own actions and makes it difficult for them to “exploit” other people for either selfish or unselfish purposes. They can do good–but only at their own expense.

Many a reader who has followed the argu­ment this far may be tempted to remonstrate that it is all well and good to speak of Government’s having the responsibility to im­pose taxes and determine expenditures for such “social” purposes as controlling pollu­tion or training the hard-core unemployed, but that the problems are too urgent to wait on the slow course of political processes, that the exercise of social responsibility by busi­nessmen is a quicker and surer way to solve pressing current problems.

Aside from the question of fact–I share Adam Smith’s skepticism about the benefits that can be expected from “those who affected to trade for the public good”–this argument must be rejected on grounds of principle. What it amounts to is an assertion that those who favor the taxes and expenditures in question have failed to persuade a majority of their fellow citizens to be of like mind and that they are seeking to attain by undemocratic procedures what they cannot attain by democratic proce­dures. In a free society, it is hard for “evil” people to do “evil,” especially since one man’s good is another’s evil.

I have, for simplicity, concentrated on the special case of the corporate executive, ex­cept only for the brief digression on trade unions. But precisely the same argument ap­plies to the newer phenomenon of calling upon stockholders to require corporations to exercise social responsibility (the recent G.M crusade for example). In most of these cases, what is in effect involved is some stockholders trying to get other stockholders (or customers or employees) to contribute against their will to “social” causes favored by the activists. In­sofar as they succeed, they are again imposing taxes and spending the proceeds.

The situation of the individual proprietor is somewhat different. If he acts to reduce the returns of his enterprise in order to exercise his “social responsibility,” he is spending his own money, not someone else’s. If he wishes to spend his money on such purposes, that is his right, and I cannot see that there is any ob­jection to his doing so. In the process, he, too, may impose costs on employees and cus­tomers. However, because he is far less likely than a large corporation or union to have mo­nopolistic power, any such side effects will tend to be minor.

Of course, in practice the doctrine of social responsibility is frequently a cloak for actions that are justified on other grounds rather than a reason for those actions.

To illustrate, it may well be in the long run interest of a corporation that is a major employer in a small community to devote resources to providing amenities to that community or to improving its government. That may make it easier to attract desirable employees, it may reduce the wage bill or lessen losses from pilferage and sabotage or have other worthwhile effects. Or it may be that, given the laws about the deductibility of corporate charitable contributions, the stockholders can contribute more to chari­ties they favor by having the corporation make the gift than by doing it themselves, since they can in that way contribute an amount that would otherwise have been paid as corporate taxes.

In each of these–and many similar–cases, there is a strong temptation to rationalize these actions as an exercise of “social responsibility.” In the present climate of opinion, with its wide spread aversion to “capitalism,” “profits,” the “soulless corporation” and so on, this is one way for a corporation to generate goodwill as a by-product of expenditures that are entirely justified in its own self-interest.

It would be inconsistent of me to call on corporate executives to refrain from this hyp­ocritical window-dressing because it harms the foundations of a free society. That would be to call on them to exercise a “social re­sponsibility”! If our institutions, and the atti­tudes of the public make it in their self-inter­est to cloak their actions in this way, I cannot summon much indignation to denounce them. At the same time, I can express admiration for those individual proprietors or owners of closely held corporations or stockholders of more broadly held corporations who disdain such tactics as approaching fraud.

Whether blameworthy or not, the use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and presti­gious businessmen, does clearly harm the foun­dations of a free society. I have been impressed time and again by the schizophrenic character of many businessmen. They are capable of being extremely farsighted and clearheaded in matters that are internal to their businesses. They are incredibly shortsighted and muddle­headed in matters that are outside their businesses but affect the possible survival of busi­ness in general. This shortsightedness is strikingly exemplified in the calls from many businessmen for wage and price guidelines or controls or income policies. There is nothing that could do more in a brief period to destroy a market system and replace it by a centrally con­trolled system than effective governmental con­trol of prices and wages.

The shortsightedness is also exemplified in speeches by businessmen on social respon­sibility. This may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces. Once this view is adopted, the external forces that curb the market will not be the social consciences, however highly developed, of the pontificating executives; it will be the iron fist of Government bureaucrats. Here, as with price and wage controls, businessmen seem to me to reveal a suicidal impulse.

The political principle that underlies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all coopera­tion is voluntary, all parties to such coopera­tion benefit or they need not participate. There are no values, no “social” responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.

The political principle that underlies the political mechanism is conformity. The indi­vidual must serve a more general social inter­est–whether that be determined by a church or a dictator or a majority. The individual may have a vote and say in what is to be done, but if he is overruled, he must conform. It is appropriate for some to require others to contribute to a general social purpose whether they wish to or not.

Unfortunately, unanimity is not always feasi­ble. There are some respects in which conformity appears unavoidable, so I do not see how one can avoid the use of the political mecha­nism altogether.

But the doctrine of “social responsibility” taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means.

That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a “fundamentally subversive doctrine” in a free society, and have said that in such a society, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it sresources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game [Peter Bakke: what a horrible and idiotic phrase. Rules as defined by whom? The gamemasters, of course. To quote Friedman earlier in this article, “rules of the game” is “notable for [its] analytical looseness and lack of rigor], which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

trump, the president, may be a threat to national security

The Trump administration is flagrantly defying U.S. Law:

50 U.S. Code § 3033.Inspector General of the Intelligence Community

(5)

(A)

An employee of an element of the intelligence community, an employee assigned or detailed to an element of the intelligence community, or an employee of a contractor to the intelligence community who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern may report such complaint or information to the Inspector General.
(B)

Not later than the end of the 14-calendar-day period beginning on the date of receipt from an employee of a complaint or information under subparagraph (A), the Inspector General shall determine whether the complaint or information appears credible. Upon making such a determination, the Inspector General shall transmit to the Director a notice of that determination, together with the complaint or information.
(C)

Upon receipt of a transmittal from the Inspector General under subparagraph (B), the Director shall, within 7 calendar days of such receipt, forward such transmittal to the congressional intelligence committees, together with any comments the Director considers appropriate.
(D)

(i)

If the Inspector General does not find credible under subparagraph (B) a complaint or information submitted under subparagraph (A), or does not transmit the complaint or information to the Director in accurate form under subparagraph (B), the employee (subject to clause (ii)) may submit the complaint or information to Congress by contacting either or both of the congressional intelligence committees directly.
(ii)An employee may contact the congressional intelligence committees directly as described in clause (i) only if the employee—

(I)

before making such a contact, furnishes to the Director, through the Inspector General, a statement of the employee’s complaint or information and notice of the employee’s intent to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly; and
(II)

obtains and follows from the Director, through the Inspector General, direction on how to contact the congressional intelligence committees in accordance with appropriate security practices.
(iii)

A member or employee of one of the congressional intelligence committees who receives a complaint or information under this subparagraph does so in that member or employee’s official capacity as a member or employee of such committee.
(E)

The Inspector General shall notify an employee who reports a complaint or information to the Inspector General under this paragraph of each action taken under this paragraph with respect to the complaint or information. Such notice shall be provided not later than 3 days after any such action is taken.
(F)

An action taken by the Director or the Inspector General under this paragraph shall not be subject to judicial review.
(G)In this paragraph, the term “urgent concern” means any of the following:

(i)

A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters.
(ii)

A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity.
(iii)

An action, including a personnel action described in section 2302(a)(2)(A) of title 5, constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal prohibited under subsection (g)(3)(B) of this section in response to an employee’s reporting an urgent concern in accordance with this paragraph.
(H)

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the protections afforded to an employee under section 3517(d) of this title or section 8H of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.).
(I)

An individual who has submitted a complaint or information to the Inspector General under this section may notify any member of either of the congressional intelligence committees, or a staff member of either of such committees, of the fact that such individual has made a submission to the Inspector General, and of the date on which such submission was made.

Malcolm Gladwell Can Write About Almost Anything.

The following is the article that was the foundation for Gladwell’s viral TED talk about spaghetti sauces.

Does an article about ketchup, mustard, and spaghetti sauce sound weird?

Weird is Gladwell’s oeuvre.

“Today there are thirty-six varieties of Ragú spaghetti sauce, under six rubrics—Old World Style, Chunky Garden Style, Robusto, Light, Cheese Creations, and Rich & Meaty—which means that there is very nearly an optimal spaghetti sauce for every man, woman, and child in America. Measured against the monotony that confronted Howard Moskowitz twenty years ago, this is progress. Happiness, in one sense, is a function of how closely our world conforms to the infinite variety of human preference. But that makes it easy to forget that sometimes happiness can be found in having what we’ve always had and everyone else is having. “

Read more at the New Yorker.

gladwell malcolm

Cancer by the Carton (1952 Reader’s Digest Article)

(Photo:  Pat Wellenbach, AP)
Choice of photo by Editor of
“Towards Better Health”
“Cancer by the Carton”, a December 1952 Reader’s Digest article on the association between smoking and lung cancer, contributed to the largest drop in cigarette consumption since the Depression.
Referenced in : Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Cancer by the Carton
by Roy Norr, Condensed from Christian Herald, published in the Reader’s Digest, December 1952

Recent medical researches on the relationship of smoking and lung cancer

For three decades the medical controversy over the part played by smoking in the rise of bronchiogenic carcinoma, better known as cancer of the lung, has largely been kept from public notice. More than 26 years ago the late Dr. James Ewing, distinguished pathologist and leading spirit in the organization of the American Association for Cancer Research (now the American Cancer Society), pleaded for a public educational campaign.

“One may hardly aim to eliminate the tobacco habit,” he wrote in his famous essay on cancer prevention, “but cancer propaganda should emphasize the danger signs that go with it.”

No one questions that tobacco smoke irritates the mucous lining of the mouth, nose and throat, or that it aggravates hoarseness, coughing, chronic bronchitis and tonsillitis. It is accepted without argument that smoking is forbidden in cases of gastric and duodenal ulcers; that it interferes with normal digestion; that it contracts the blood vessels, increases the heart rate, raises the blood pressure. In many involvements of heart disease, the first order from the doctor is to cut out smoking immediately.

But what gives grave concern to public-health leaders is that the increase in lung-cancer mortality shows a suspicious parallel to the enormous increase in cigarette consumption (now 2500 cigarettes per year for every human being in the United States).

The latest study, which is published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (May 27, 1952), by a group of noted cancer workers headed by Dr. Alton Ochsner, former president of the American Cancer Society and director of the famous Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, discloses that, during the period 1920 to 1948, deaths from bronchiogenic carcinoma in the United States increased more than ten times, from 1.1 to 11.3 per 100,000 of the population. From 1938 to 1948, lung-cancer deaths increased 144 percent. At the present time cancer of the mouth and respiratory tract kills 19,000 men and 5,000 women annually in the United States.

“It is probable that bronchiogenic carcinoma soon will become more frequent than any other cancer of the body, unless something is done to prevent its increase,” is Dr. Ochsner’s conclusion. “It is frightening to speculate on the possible number of bronchiogenic cancers that might develop as the result of the tremendous number of cigarettes consumed in the two decades from 1930 to 1950.”

A survey recently published by the United Nations World Health Organization cites the conclusion of an investigation carried out by the Medical Research Council of England and Wales that “above the age of 45 the risk of developing the disease increases in simple proportion with the amount smoked, and may be 50 times as great among those who smoked 25 or more cigarettes daily as among nonsmokers.”

A study of 684 cases, made by Ernest L. Wynder and Evarts A. Graham for the American Cancer Society and published in the AMA Journal, May 27, 1950, stated this conclusion: “Excessive and prolonged use of tobacco, especially cigarettes, seems to be an important factor in the induction of bronchiogenic carcinoma.”

More recently Wynder, now associated with Memorial Cancer Center in New York, expanded the statement: “The more a person smokes the greater is the risk of developing cancer of the lung, whereas the risk was small in a nonsmoker or a light smoker.”

In his summary Some Practical Aspects of Cancer Prevention, Wynder lists tobacco as the major factor in cancer of the larynx, the pharynx, the esophagus and the oral cavity. “In 1926,” he points out, “Ewing wrote that ‘though a great body of clinical information shows that many forms of cancer are due to preventable causes there has been little systematic research to impress this fact on the medical profession or to convey it to the public.’ This was true then, as it is today.”

After a study of world-wide medical opinion, Wynder reaches the same conclusion arrived at by Ewing 26 years ago. “Cancer of the lung,” he reports, “presents one of the most striking opportunities for preventive measures in cancer.”

Cancer workers want something done, and done now on the basis of present clinical knowledge, to alert the smoking public.”

https://industrydocuments.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=nyyp0092

Sample Management Journal Article Review

Journal Article Critique

Peter Bakke

Professor Thomas Spencer, Ph.D.

RSCH-8250Z-1 – Advanced Quantitative Reasoning & Analysis

                                                              July 13, 2013

 

Introduction

Hsu, Chen, and Cheng (2013) used a cross-sectional study to analyze 187 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Taiwan to determine if CEO attributes contributed to internationalization success as defined by firm performance. Based upon upper echelon and information processing theories, the researchers hypothesized that five CEO characteristics (age, tenure, education, international experience, and duality –  that is, CEO also as board chairman) were significant moderating effects upon international firm performance. Using regression analyses, the researchers concluded that four of the predictors, excluding CEO tenure, had a significant moderating effect upon firm performance.

The rationale for the study was described by the researchers as a need to analyze CEO characteristic attributes because such CEO predictors had not been addressed in previous studies of internationalization and firm performance. Therefore, this study appeared to fill a gap in the literature. The three authors seemed to be a well-balanced team to tackle this particular academic issue. They individually had well-suited combinations of experience in finance, risk management, and international business.

                                                                    Literature Review

The literature review was extensive and was broken down logically into two main sections: Internationalization/Firm Performance and Upper Echelon/Information Processing theories. Upper Echelon theory and Information Processing theory appeared to adequately address the study’s main thrust of analyzing CEO personal attributes in a complex business setting at the individual level (versus organizational structure). In addition, the hypotheses section, which contained discussions of the study’s six hypotheses, also included copious literature references. However, out of the study’s 88 referenced materials, only 8 references were written within 5 years of the article’s publication date. The 88 references for this relatively small study seemed to be excessive, so there is a concern that the authors may have been making up for a lack of recent relevant articles by citing an abundance of older articles and studies. This could have been driven by the perceived gap in the literature, which is frequently seen in this kind of situation. Breaking new ground in a well-documented topic sometimes has to be performed without the support of recent academic journal articles.

            One area of general concern was the study’s focus upon SMEs and the off-shore internationalization of small and medium business dealings. It seemed more appropriate that the focus upon internationalization would be better applied to larger enterprises which would be better suited for this CEO study because larger organizations would logically have more abundant resources of all kinds and more experienced CEOs who could better internationalize their businesses versus the small and medium enterprises analyzed by this study. However, one must realize that Taiwan is a small island nation which must perforce rely upon many international partners for resources, commerce, and labor. Given the rather unique context of Taiwan, it seems plausible that even small and medium Taiwanese businesses would indeed be vitally concerned with international business success and their CEO’s part in that success.

The six hypotheses stated in the study appeared to be logically driven by the identified gap in the academic literature. The only possible bias in the approach of the topic seemed to be frequent references to the age of CEOs and the fact, revealed below, that an increase in CEO age appears to significantly relate negatively to international firm performance. Given that this is an Asian nation where age typically equates with increased knowledge, the study’s finding that CEO age does not actually equate to increased firm performance may have been a preconceived bias by the researchers and they may have been keen to use the study results to help move aging CEOs out of their hierarchical positions or may have a bias towards changing CEO selection criteria. At a minimum, the results of this study, if truly applicable to the larger population represented by the sample, have the potential to make many aging Asian CEOs, and their boards, uncomfortable.

Another bias in the study sample is that the companies are all publicly-held companies, therefore private companies were excluded from the sample – presumably because it was a convenience sample. Comparable data for private companies is difficult to obtain.

Methods/Research Design

            For the purposes of obtaining company data for this study, SMEs were defined by the researchers as Taiwanese public companies that had fewer than 200 employees. These companies were selected from the Taiwan Stock Exchange and GreTai Securities Market. Financial data for the companies was obtained from the Taiwan Economic Journal Databank and CEO demographic data was manually gathered from company reports. Any companies that lacked any of the required data were removed from the study sample. As stated earlier, n=187. Field (2013) suggested that for a regression study, the minimum sample size should be 104 cases plus the number of predictors, or in this case, 104 + 5 = 109. Therefore the minimum sample size for the regression was met.

Because the data was gathered from public sources, no IRB intervention was necessary in the data gathering process. There are no apparent ethical concerns about the study, particularly since the data was randomly selected and anonymous in nature. There is no individually identifiable CEO information in the dataset.

The authors addressed several concerns of a regression study. They used a generalized least squares (GLS) regression method to address the problem of cross-sectional heteroskedasticity and within-unit serial correlation. The GLS method was used to test the study’s hypotheses. The Hausman test was used to determine that there were no significant correlations between independent variables. However, elsewhere in the study, the researchers related that two variables did indeed have significant correlation and they stated that they simply “added” the two variables together. This seemed rather a simplified method to avoid too much variable correlation in an already complex model, but the researchers claimed it was a valid method to avoid multicollinearity and included a citation to affirm their “addition” action. The authors did mention that all variance inflation factors (VIF) values were well under the benchmark of 10.0, indicating that multicollinearity was not a serious factor in the regression model.

Also, it was not clear that all variables were continuous. For example, the education variable was encoded using a Likert scale between 1 (elementary) and 7 (PhD). These values can be seen as continuous when averaged across all cases, but are not a continuous variable, per se. There was also concern on the part of this reviewer that there were too many variables in the regression analysis, making it too complicated. The authors had to use seven regression models to determine the effects of their predictors. This seemed like a cumbersome and overly complex regression model, particularly when control and dummy variables were added into the regression equation, such as “Firm Size,” “R&D Intensity,” “Debt Ratio,” “Product Diversity,” and “Regulative Distance.” It wasn’t clear exactly how these variables were used to control the cross-sectional design in this complex regression model.

Results section

            Descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation), correlations, and significance (p) values were provided for all variables. The main results were reported as regression coefficients and significance values. Two very large tables of results with very small type were provided. All of the reporting of hypothesis confirmations were done by referencing only the first table of results. It was not clear why the second table was never referenced. If it was not referenced, why was it included in the study? The final size of the study sample was never compared to the population sample. That is, n=186 was never related to the proportion of the total population. Interaction plots for the four significant CEO attributes (age, experience, education, duality) were listed, but the X-axis of each plot was not described. This made the importance of the plots less impactful.

Discussion section

            Each hypothesis was analyzed based on the regression results and confirmed or denied. Four of the predictors were significant. However, CEO tenure was not statistically significant, yet the authors chose to discuss its importance. If a variable, such as CEO tenure is not statistically significant, the researchers should not opine about its potential meaning for the study or how it may have affected a particular hypothesis.

Limitations of the study were discussed. Generizability for other non-Taiwanese businesses was discussed as a limitation. Asian cultural aspects inherent in the study, particularly around the attitudes of age and knowledge, were discussed as well. The authors also recognized that there may be other factors that affect successful internationalization, such as organizational structure, that were not addressed in the study.  “Three-stage” theory was mentioned as a potential limitation, but what this meant was not clear as it was not clearly defined. It was suggested that further research could be done using a longitudinal study involving SME CEO attributes. Practical implications of the study revolved around CEO selection and grooming based on the significant predictors listed above.

Overall Evaluation

            This CEO attributes study appears to support several hypotheses about the significance of CEO characteristics that positively and negatively impact the successful internationalization of SMEs in Taiwan. The three author’s discussions about the significance of CEO age, CEO international experience, CEO level of education, and CEO duality (that is, a company has a better chance of being successful if the CEO is not also the chairman of the board) all could be justifiably and reliably cited in other studies about CEO characteristics and their affect upon firm performance.

References

Hsu, W., Chen, H., & Cheng, C. (2013). Internationalization and firm performance of SMEs:       The moderating effects of CEO attributes. Journal of World Business, 48, 1–12.

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using SPSS (4th ed.). London: Sage.

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