Hugo Chavez Doesn’t Think Noam Chomsky Is Dead After All

There’s a pretty fascinating Editors’ Note in today’s New York Times concerning Hugo Chavez and Noam Chomsky. (An Editors’ Note is the most serious of three types of corrections the Times runs; the other two types are called For the Record and Corrections.) You all probably all remember Chavez’s performance at the United Nations a couple weeks ago, during which he called President Bush the devil. Chavez also had strong praise for the leftist scholar Noam Chomsky and his book Hegemony or Survival, and the attendant attention shot the book to No. 1 on Amazon.com.

Some newspapers had a good time ridiculing Chavez’s praise for Chomsky because Chavez apparently didn’t know that Chomsky is still alive. Here’s how the Times led its report: “At a news conference after his spirited address to the United Nations on Wednesday, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela expressed one regret: not having met that icon of the American left, the linguist Noam Chomsky, before his death.”

But as today’s Editors’ Note in the Times makes clear, it wasn’t Chavez who flubbed; it was the Times: “In fact, what Mr. Chavez said was, ‘I am an avid reader of Noam Chomsky, as I am of an American professor who died some time ago.”

The dead professor Chavez was referring to, the one he regretted never meeting? John Kenneth Galbraith.

Here’s the Times‘s explanation for its mistake: “Mr. Chavez was speaking in Spanish at the news conference, but the simultaneous English translation by the United Nations left out the reference to Mr. Galbraith and made it sound as if the man who died was Mr. Chomsky. Readers pointed out the error in e-mails to The Times soon after the first article was published. Reporters reviewed the recordings of the news conference in English and Spanish, but not carefully enough to detect the discrepancy, until after the Venezuelan government complained publicly on Wednesday.”

It sounds to me like a very honest mistake. But it also suggests an interesting psychological element: we are probably more willing to identify and exploit a flaw in those whom we have already deemed very flawed.


Leviathan

Well, absolutely.
That is a function of our "Belief Bias" . . . our tendancy to seek and remember conclusions that agree with our own beliefs.
We believe Hugo is flawed, we believe The Times to be infallible . . .

CharlesMerriam

Are we predisposed to believe that those we see as flawed have more flaws, thus reducing the uncertainty in our value judgements?

Yes. Many litanies have been written about the value of forgiveness, of keeping a critical eye, and of approaching without predujice. Most of these litanies ask people to use their minds more and presume less. On the other side, there are many outlets that allow the mind to lazy by adjusting facts to fit the preconceptions.

For example:
* FoxNews and Associated Press consumers believe the repulican party is moral.
* Rep. Foley is a republican senator who is a child molester.
* The republican party was unresponsive to early allegations.
* Rather than upset an audience, FoxNews and the Associated Press simply relabeled Foley as democrat.
* Consumers avoided needing to reconcile their belief in a moral stance coupled with immoral behavior.

It is human nature.
===
Google for your choice of references:
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3570
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3572
Are the first two I found, but require you to scroll down slightly.

Read more...

Frolic

Or maybe the reporters just don't speak Spanish very well.

PEDROBIZ

I do not get it: "It seems like an honest mistake" after people, not reporters, pointed out the Times' mistake and only corrected after the Venezuelan government protested? What is honest about that?
It would also be an honest mistake by Colin Powell and President Bush to assert there were (for sure) weapons of mass destructin in Irak. Two trillion dollars and hundreds of thousand irakies dead later, what embassy needs to call and protest. Well no time for that as we are preparing for the next honest mistake: "Iran has the bomb." Well the CIA spies do not speak Irani very well, I guess.

Mnqobi Nyathikazi

It's called Farsi not Irani

Ellemer

"Reporters reviewed the recordings of the news conference in English and Spanish, but not carefully enough to detect the discrepancy"

Spanish! How hard is it to find native speakers anywhere in the U.S.?
Try to imagine Iranian, indeed.
After this reporting, I don't believe a single word of what they say Iran's president said.

Leviathan

Well, absolutely.
That is a function of our "Belief Bias" . . . our tendancy to seek and remember conclusions that agree with our own beliefs.
We believe Hugo is flawed, we believe The Times to be infallible . . .

CharlesMerriam

Are we predisposed to believe that those we see as flawed have more flaws, thus reducing the uncertainty in our value judgements?

Yes. Many litanies have been written about the value of forgiveness, of keeping a critical eye, and of approaching without predujice. Most of these litanies ask people to use their minds more and presume less. On the other side, there are many outlets that allow the mind to lazy by adjusting facts to fit the preconceptions.

For example:
* FoxNews and Associated Press consumers believe the repulican party is moral.
* Rep. Foley is a republican senator who is a child molester.
* The republican party was unresponsive to early allegations.
* Rather than upset an audience, FoxNews and the Associated Press simply relabeled Foley as democrat.
* Consumers avoided needing to reconcile their belief in a moral stance coupled with immoral behavior.

It is human nature.
===
Google for your choice of references:
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3570
http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3572
Are the first two I found, but require you to scroll down slightly.

Read more...

Frolic

Or maybe the reporters just don't speak Spanish very well.

PEDROBIZ

I do not get it: "It seems like an honest mistake" after people, not reporters, pointed out the Times' mistake and only corrected after the Venezuelan government protested? What is honest about that?
It would also be an honest mistake by Colin Powell and President Bush to assert there were (for sure) weapons of mass destructin in Irak. Two trillion dollars and hundreds of thousand irakies dead later, what embassy needs to call and protest. Well no time for that as we are preparing for the next honest mistake: "Iran has the bomb." Well the CIA spies do not speak Irani very well, I guess.

Mnqobi Nyathikazi

It's called Farsi not Irani

Ellemer

"Reporters reviewed the recordings of the news conference in English and Spanish, but not carefully enough to detect the discrepancy"

Spanish! How hard is it to find native speakers anywhere in the U.S.?
Try to imagine Iranian, indeed.
After this reporting, I don't believe a single word of what they say Iran's president said.