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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Media is the Message – or is it?

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Once again I woke up to a Saturday morning blog post flurry on Techmeme.  Today’s was on the criticism by Valleywag of the Microsoft People Ready campaign that ran on the Federated Media network.  It appears that everyone is talking about it – and I guess I just did also (oops.)

Peopleready

This particular conversation made me think of a pair of blog posts that Stan Feld (my dad) wrote recently.  I recommend that you – dear reader – take your brain out of the tech industry echo chamber for a moment and think about the notion of critical thinking.  Let’s wander over to the health care industry for a few minutes.

First, read through Stan’s post titled Women’s Health Initiative (WHI): Medical Community Undermines Itself.  Take your time – like most of the stuff my dad writes it is a little chewy, but he decomposes the issue extremely well and substantiates his perspective with a critical review of the statistics involved.

Now, read a post he wrote a few weeks ago titled What Has Happened To The Medical Professions Ability To Apply The Scientific Method To Our Medical Articles?Again, take it slow and pay particular attention to the statistical analysis (even if you don’t really know statistics – he does a good job of explaining what you should be looking for.)

Stan was a practicing endocrinologist for 30 years.  While he’s retired from private practice, he believes that it’s finally time we (as in “we the people”) reform the completely foobarred health care system once and for all.  These two posts are great examples of how the medical community undermines itself through its behavior. 

As we wander into yet another election cycle, I expect our brains will be flooded with an overwhelming amount of unsubstantiated opinion masquerading as fact.  Many people will quickly react to public sentiment without really doing their homework.  The mob will be able to shape reputations quickly and – when the floodgates open on an issue – it’ll be difficult to sort the signal from the noise.

This is one of the beauties of blogging and user generated content.  It’s also one of the risks.  Think critically.  Have your own point of view.  Make sure you know when you are reacting to fact, fiction, an opinion, an assertion, or a trend. 

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