My first reaction to listening to the Retraction episode, is that “This American Life” ignored the simple advice/knowledge, that we as students hear over and over again; be careful what you put on the internet or radio because you will never be able to take it back. More specific for this situation, is you must be clear about what kind of information you are presenting to the public. Is it fictional, factual, opinionated? But, as far as Mike Daisey is concerned, he is a performer, he considers what he does as a form of art. Therefore, he can defend his exaggerations and “lies” by saying that he was simply using his artistic license to get his point across. And when confronted on the radio show he does defend himself, he does not consider what he said to be lies. When asked why he did not consider himself a liar for saying that he personally met with hexane poisoned workers he said, “I would say that I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality of my trip. And so when I was building the scene of that meeting, I wanted to have the voice of this thing that had been happening, that everyone had been talking about.” The radio show then goes on to talk about how his monologue has reached so many ears, and how he is now known as a leader in speaking out against apple. Most importantly, how people take his monologue as fact.

In today’s day in age, there is more readily available information than ever before, much of which you can not call fact. Although it is obvious, that is why it always important to check the sources of the information that we read on the internet or hear on the radio. There are probably hundreds of things that I think to be fact, that in reality are not true at all. For example, I recently watched a science video on the internet that talked about common science misconceptions, many of which I believed before viewing the video. Some of the misconceptions are that our blood is blue before it touches oxygen (false), the Brontosaurus existed (false), the far side of the moon is the dark side of the moon (meaning it receives less sunlight) (false), and many others. All this being said, it is often hard to know exactly where the information you are reading/listening to/watching came from, and how reliable it really is. That is why I have learned to take most everything with the proverbial grain of salt. Even when sitting at a lecture or in class at Bucknell, much of the curriculum being taught is affected by each professor’s personal opinions and experiences.

This may seem like a pessimistic way of looking at our world today and the readily available information flying around, but I believe it to be a realistic one. That is why before I formulate an opinion on a particular subject I try to find information about it from multiple sources. There are obviously exceptions to this. Even though I mentioned before that my professor’s curriculum may be effected by their opinions, if I am told in class that Gross Profit Margin is (Revenue-COGS)/Revenue, I will take this as fact without having to find external sources. Finally, I find that it is important to “label” what one says/blogs/writes as either fact/opinion/objective/subjective so that when others come across this information they know exactly what they are being exposed to. And also that if what you claim is indeed fact, that you cite it with a reputable source.

Science video:

Response to “Retraction”

My first reaction to “Retraction” was frustration because I couldn’t believe that I listened to Mike Daisey’s entire monologue without even thinking if he could be lying or not. I assumed that since he was talking about his personal experiences that the things he was saying were true. Now, after discovering the numerous lies Daisey told, I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised. Daisey’s monologue was not journalism; it was purely his attempt of being entertaining. In this case, it seems as though Daisey is nothing more than an actor since so much of his story was found out to be false.

At one point in “Retraction,” Daisey apologizes. In my opinion, he also owes an apology to Apple. Although we know that there are poor working conditions at factories that produce Apple products, the content in Daisey’s monologue was clearly exaggerated. With a high volume of listeners, I would assume that many of these listeners had a worsened image of Apple as a company after hearing Daisey’s story. This effect isn’t fair to Apple, considering many of the issues presented were exaggerated or made up altogether. This makes me wonder if Daisey had other motives besides just trying to put on a show and be entertaining.

It was disturbing for me to hear how many of the ideas presented were actually lies. I don’t understand why Daisey felt the need to tell a completely different story compared to what he actually experienced. When asked questions about his lies, he took a while to answer and when he finally answered, he didn’t seem confident in what he was saying. Could he have lied in that interview as well? Although he admits to his lies, he still tries to explain himself and stand behind his story. In my eyes, Daisey lost all credibility and nothing he says should be trusted. People tend to believe others who are talking about personal experiences, but it is probably wise to look out for people who might have other motives and could be lying or exaggerating the truth.

“Retraction” Response

Listening to Mike Daisey’s interview in the “Retraction” episode was one of the most frustrating academic experiences I have ever faced. I say “academic” because when I listened to the original podcast; I took everything I heard as truth and as educational rather than entertainment. I feel tricked and manipulated. I want to blame myself for trusting a self-proclaimed entertainer to deliver a journalistic message about a topic he is trying draw attention to, but for some reason I cannot. Like Ira from This American Life said, Daisey portrayed his monologue as truth.

For me, you cannot use entertainment as a forum to send a message to your audience. If I go watch a standup comedian, I am not expecting all the stories they tell for their jokes to have actually have happened. As long as I am entertained, I’m happy. There is no underlying serious message that they are trying to get across to the audience. They are simply trying to make them laugh. So for Daisey to use the excuse that his monologue is theatre, a form of entertainment, as an excuse for his lies is absurd.  I understand that he wanted to evoke a lot of emotion to make people care about the working conditions in factories in China, but the lies discredit any truth that his monologue contains.

This whole experience will make me more wary of any opinion pieces I read or listen to in the future. It will also help me to pay attention to the details of an argument and identify clues to question the accuracy of pieces. When the producers of This American Life mentioned the parts of Daisey’s monologue that drew their attention to question the accuracy of it were parts that did not even register with me initially, but when looking back when the brought them up did seem a little odd.

Mike Daisey Retraction

The retraction of Mike Daisey’s story about the terrible conditions at the Foxconn plant shows the importance of fact-checking in the world of journalism.  Daisey was able to manipulate his listeners into thinking that Apple was an evil company that forced its suppliers into terrible working conditions – or at least did nothing to stop them from occurring.  Daisey exaggerated and even fabricated parts of his story to influence the opinions of his listeners to fit his impression of Foxconn and Apple.  The graphic and descriptive nature of his story was so realistic that we all believed it to be true without looking at other sources to verify the facts behind his experiences.

While I am disappointed that Daisey’s story is fabricated, I cannot say that I am completely surprised.  Some of his anecdotes appeared to be stretched to the point where they were hard to believe he accomplished in a few days time, such as talking to “hundreds of workers” outside of the Foxconn gates; however, we believed them because they were on the news and were told in a manner so descriptive that there was an impression that these anecdotes couldn’t possibly be fabricated.  This retraction shows that we cannot always believe what we are told, even if it appears to come from a credible news source.  Facts can be twisted, exaggerated, or in this case, fabricated, to present a particular view of the person presenting the information.

This retraction shows that it is important to look at multiple sources when forming an opinion.  A simple Google search “Mike Daisey Foxconn” fills the first page with articles saying that the story was fabricated.  I personally feel foolish that I did not look into this or other sources regarding the reporting of Daisey’s story, but it shows that myself and others are quick to believe what is told to us without consulting other sources to verify the merits of a particular story.  This argument can be expanded to the news media that try to use facts in a certain context to spin news their way.  Whatever the story, it is important to have the facts straight before forming an opinion.

iTruth: tech, art, ethics, media, and the world of our devices… (Blog 3)

Blog 3 Prompt


What is truth?  Lies?  Who gets to decide?

Montage of Daisey and Jobs from New York Magazine

Now things get complicated.  You heard This American Life’s podcast focusing on Mike Daisey’s monologue-play and the issues it raises about Apple, China, worker rights, us as consumers, and globalization.

There is a reason I had you listen to that bootleg version.  TAL scrubbed the podcast from its website and released “Retraction” in which they devoted a full hour to “retracting” the original podcast.

Was Mike Daisey an unethical liar?  What, exactly, did he lie about, or not?  What is art, journalism, or truth?  Who decides?  These are some of the questions this new chapter in the story presents.

Please listen now to “Retraction.”  You can do so on-line here, or you can get it through iTunes or other distributor like Amazon.  There is even a TAL app (iphone and droid).

In your post, discuss any issue the “Retraction” episode brings to mind.   Be sure to include any links to other resources, media, or photographs.  Write clearly, but also in your own voice.  Please also discuss how your reaction is shaped by the information to which you have access and what that access says about truth, objective “facts” versus “opinions,” lies, meaning, knowledge, and any other aspect of these events that relates to how we know what we know (formally called epistemology- the study of knowing).

Your post should be at least three paragraphs.

More Relevant Information

Mike Daisey Blog

Bucknell’s tech/no performance of the interrupted monologue (Fall 2012).

Original and Revised scripts (for free!) from Mike Daisey.