7 Reasons Millennials Are Not The Worst Generation – An Editorial Fact Check

The article I choose is “7 Reasons Millennials Are The Worst Generation” by Ben Shapiro, published on Breitbart News, 3 Feb 2015.
My marked-up version is Here.


Claim 1:

“They Think Colbert Should Be President.”

Evidence:

“According to the latest Fusion poll… their real preference is for Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, who spends his time playing a mock-up of the worst stereotypes about conservatives. 19 percent of millennials say that they’d like to see him as president, versus 17 percent each for Jon Stewart and Tina Fey. Dave Chappelle clocks in at a competitive 15 percent.”

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Stephen Colbert appears to be Millennial’s favorite COMEDIAN they want to see in presidential election

 

Comment:

Shapiro based his arguments on a 2015 Survey from the Fusion Poll. Fusion is a news website directed towards young Americans and is known for its entertaining but authentic contents. I am able to locate the original report made by Beneson Strategy Group with valid survey methodology. However, Shapiro did not indicate that all the candidates in the poll are comedians, and might be potentially directing his audience to think otherwise. Even if it’s true – Millennials like Stephen Colbert, so what?


Claim 2:

“They Don’t Know Anything About Politics.”

Evidence:

“Seventy seven percent of millennials couldn’t name a senator from their home state, according to the Fusion poll… millennials hate both political parties…”

 

Comment:

The author used the same source again, and the evidence is valid here.


Claim 3:

“They Don’t Know Anything About Money.”

Evidence:

“According to a 2013 Bank of America/USA Today survey, millennials say they’re smart with their cash. They’re not. Over half admit they’re “living from paycheck to paycheck,” according to CNBC.com, and “many are still living with or living off their parents.” More than one in three still draw cash or resources from mom and dad. But one in three are also saving for vacations, and they’re saving for vacations rather than homes.”

Comment:

I tracked back to the article being published on the USA today, but I’m still unable to find the original survey. There’s not much discussion about the sampling methodology, but I assume big names such as USA today and BOA could partly guarantee the quality of the report. The CNBC piece based their arguments on the USA Today report as well, therefore carrying the same degree of credibility. The evidence is mostly valid here.


Claim 4:

“They Disproportionately Oppose Vaccination.”

Evidence:

“According to a recent YouGov poll, young people oppose vaccination more than any other age group. One in five millennials believe that vaccines cause autism, a scientifically-disproven nostrum trotted out by idiots in Marin County. A plurality of millennials therefore believe that government should not mandate vaccinations for diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, as opposed to large majorities of those of older generations who actually remember what the world was like when people died of polio.”

Comments:

I am able to track back to the original report being published by YouGov, and have access to the entire survey result. However, I could not find any discussion about survey methodology, therefore making this report less convincing. Also, this argument contains a black and white fallacy – vaccination is not the only way to prevent certain diseases. This argument is questionable.


Claim 5:

“They Smoke… they’re responsible and all.”

Evidence:”These medical geniuses also smoke more than other generations. According to Ipsos, 23 percent of millennials admit to smoking, more than 35-54 year olds or even those aged 55+. More than one in three young people admit to hiding their cigarette use from others.

In fact, I am able to find disparately different study result for young adult smoking on the Internet.

In fact, disparately different study result of young adult smoking can be found on the Internet.

Comment:

The original survey is conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Swedish Match – Swedish Match is a tobacco company, and commercial survey being conducted can easily be tainted by questionnaire bias. Also, I could not access the original report on the Internet, making it even less credible.

Moreover, I could find reports with drastically different results and journals with different opinions on the Internet. From a study conducted by Monitoring the Future from UMich, it is suggested that young people these days are actually consuming less tobacco. Further, smoking habit is found to be changing with age. According to a report from GALLUP, smokers present a declining demographic pattern as their age increases. This suggests smoking habit is not a generational distinctive feature, but rather, it has more to do with age groups and their health concern. Elder people are more likely to be more conscious about their health condition, therefore giving up their smoking habit. I find little connection between smoking habit and Millennial generation.

Shapiro is trying to make a very irrelevant logic connection between responsibility and young people’s concealment of their smoking habit. This argument is not supported by any research nor fact. This present a good chance for me to refute his idea.


Claim 6:

“They’re Lazy.”

Evidence:

A 2014 YouGov poll shows that 69 percent of Americans think those under 30 are lazy. Even a majority of young people, 55 percent, say that their generation is lazier than past generations. Overall, 31 percent of people aged 18-29 think adults over 30 are harder workers than they are. Sixty percent of Americans think that millennials lack purpose.

Comment:

Again, the Author used the source cited from Claim 4. I am able to track back to the original report being published by YouGov, and have access to the entire survey result. However, I could not find any discussion about survey methodology, therefore making this report less convincing.


Claim 7:

They’re High on Self-Esteem.

Evidence:

“Thanks to their perennial adolescence, helped along by parents, media, and government, millennials believe they’re smarter than they are, and certainly wait to involve themselves in social institutions like marriage, which would require them to stop being selfish jackasses. As sociologist Jean Twenge writes, millenials are uninterested in the society around them, less likely to help the environment, less likely to ‘say they wanted a job that was helpful to others or was worthwhile to society.'”

Comment:

I am able to track back to the book, Generation Me. The author of the book, Jean Twenge Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and the author of more than 110 scientific journal articles and book chapters. This evidence should be valid. However, I could still find studies with different results suggesting opposite conclusion. From a study published online by Social Psychological and Personality Science, it is suggested that Millennials are, in fact, getting more considerate of others and displaying higher level of collectivism and environmentalism. This leaves Shapiro’s argument less convincing.

 

Conclusion:

I found quite a few researches online presenting different opinions about topics Shapiro discussed in his article. They will provide me with evidence to support my counter argument. Also, there’re some irrelevant and unclear logical connection in this editorial. I could well employ them to help me refute Shapiro’s arguments.

Reference:

Monitoring the Future, “2015 data – tobacco trends”, University of Michigan, 2015. http://monitoringthefuture.org/data/15data.html#2015data-cigs. Accessed 28 Sept, 2016.

Newport, Frank. “Smoking and Age: The Baby Boomer Bulge” Gallop, May 2010. http://www.gallup.com/poll/128183/smoking-age-baby-boomer-bulge.aspx. Accessed 28 Sept, 2016

Park, Heejung, Jean M. Twenge and Patricia M. Greenfield, The Great Recession: Implications for Adolescent Values and Behavior, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11 July, 2013. http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/10/1948550613495419. Accessed 20, Sept, 2016.

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2 Responses to 7 Reasons Millennials Are Not The Worst Generation – An Editorial Fact Check

  1. Steven Creech says:

    First of all, I would just like to say that I think you did a phenomenal job at tracing the sources of evidence back to their original source, and your analysis of whether or not the source is credible is constructed very well. Some additional feedback that I think will help you when writing your editorial would be to find some more evidence to support your own claim. As I am assuming you are trying to prove that millennials are not the worst generation, so perhaps you can find some evidence to counteract some of Sharpio’s points. For example, the first claim about millennials thinking Stephen Colbert should be president, you could find a recent article about millennials and their views on the actual presidential candidates. Thus, in addition, to invalidating Sharpio’s evidence, you are adding your own evidence to further support your argument. You might choose to take a quote of this evidence and put it as a block to the side when you design your editorial, or you might find a graph supporting data you find and you can add that to your editorial. Just a couple of suggestions that I think could help improve your argument.

  2. Mingyuan Zhou says:

    Coincidentally Kris found the same editorial with me, but obviously he analyzed the sources more thoroughly than me. I think we both discovered that many of Ben Shapiro’s sources are unreliable. I even can’t find some of the cited words of his essay. I think that Shapiro’s classification of demerits of millennials is good, but the evidence was too weak to support. Take the claim “They don’t know anything about money” as an example. First it is inappropriate to use such absolute statement to judge the entire generation. Also, I looked for the source but I cannot find the sources. He just used some data by research to say that millennials still financially depend on their parents. This evidence clearly cannot prove that millennials don’t know ANYTHING about money. I checked the resources on the same website as his resources and found other more convincing evidence to say the more important monetary problems of millennials: credits card debt, 401k, etc. Thus I totally agree with your opinion in this editorial and I will improve my own.

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