Low-quality information about Tesla car accidents may affect stock, not the actual accidents

Another Model S fire, Tesla stock tumbles” by Tim Haeck: http://mynorthwest.com/11/2382455/Another-Model-S-fire-Tesla-stock-tumbles

This article appeared to be sensationally written when I first read it, not just from reading the article’s title, which is a play off of recent, popularized headlines about a Tesla Model S igniting after hitting a large chunk of metal in Kent, WA. As I will describe, the reasons for appearing to be sensationalist are not subtle.

sen•sa•tion•al•ist
adj. Sensationalistic; tending to sensationalize; characterized by sensationalism (the use of exaggerated or lurid material in order to gain public attention).

(from Wiktionary)

Information in Haeck’s article appears to be subtly exaggerated, and I will explain why using my developing framework derived from aspects of Dr. Floridi‘s work in the philosophy of information. The primary information of Haeck’s article concerns the financial health of a specific American car company, and in such a way that causes an emotional-state change in the informee, firstly due to secondary (lack of) information, and secondly due to the lack of 3rd and 4th tier information.

To review

We have five types of information, primary, secondary, meta, operational, and derivative. My developing framework is used to analyse semantic information by qualifying and categorizing information in order to determine what is and is not present in any given article, and attempt to determine the consequences. My objective is to determine the quality of any given set of information, which may or may not indicate aspects of informativeness, misinformation, and possibly disinformation.

Information in news articles, where an informee is generally learning something substantial about his or her world, should exist to be valid and truthful. My framework groups specific pieces of information together and labels them, with the goal of being as specific as possible about what type of information it is in relation to the primary information. Primary information can usually be gathered by simply reading an article’s title, but not always.

“Primary” (without sub-classifications) information is 1st tier information. Using Haeck’s article, our primary information in focus is about Tesla Motors Inc,  the notion of a car accidents, and notion about the lessening financial value of a public, for-profit company.

“Primary-operational” (one sub-classification) information is 2nd tier information, because we are talking about the operating nature of whatever the primary information is. A specific example is the current and past stock prices of a publicly traded company, because it generally describes the increasing or decreasing health of, say, Tesla Motors.

“Primary-operational-derivative” (two sub-classifications) information would be 3rd tier information, and a specific example might be a stock market analyst’s opinion about Tesla Motor’s financial health.

The actual content

Tesla Motors stock has taken a tumble (…) after another report of a fiery crash involving the company’s Model S electric car.

Haeck’s article states that Tesla’s stock value dropped, which I presume must be true qualifying information, but only insofar as providing two points of quantified information: the updated closing cost of one share of stock for Tesla Motors and the percentage of the drop from the previous day.

To accurately reform an informee to avoid despair, Haeck should provide additional primary-operational information, which could include any number of truths: Did the stock jump back after the reports of the Kent, WA accident? How often does a 4% drop happen?

(…) has taken a tumble, again, after another report (…)

This “again” is primary-derivative-operational information. The cause and effects involved with an incident such as this–that sometimes affects company’s stock prices–happens, and this derivative inclusion is meant to support and directly tie the cause and effect of one event to another.

As an informed reader, I know that the Kent, WA incident affected Tesla Motor’s stock price because of a YouTube video that went viral (over 3 million views to date), and because a stock market analyst downgrade. Primary-derivative-operational-derivative information is needed, likely by a qualified professional, to justify this logical connection. But there is none.

Tesla shares fell four percent Monday to close at $162.86.

Alternatively, is the 4% drop even related to the Merida, Mexico accident? Qualifying primary-operational-derivative information would improve the information quality, like validating from a reputable source that:

  • this is a substantial (or not) drop in stock price, and/or
  • if the Mexican incident affected the stock price.

Another main contention in this article is that Haeck states that the Mexican accident occurred on Thursday, October 17. However, his reported stock price occurred on Monday, October 28. What’s missing is any form of primary-operational or primary-derivative information to explain this gap. The first interesting drop happened on Monday, October 21, which is missing any qualification.

TSLA closing prices:

  • Thursday the 17th: $182.80
  • Friday the 18th: $183.40
  • Monday the 21st: $172.60
  • Friday the 25th: 169.66
  • Monday the 28th: $162.86

The use of the primary-operational-derivative information is exaggerated because it’s the informer’s responsibility to provide high-quality information, and in order to do that, Haeck needs to fill in substantial gaps of information.

Closing

The Merida, Mexico incident leaves the informee emotionally weakened about Tesla. The article provides zero supportive arguments of its stated, most-affecting, primary-operational information. The existing primary-operational information is misleading because it is very specific, but Haeck doesn’t logically connect (justify) the provided information, which is a major indicator of low-quality information.

Haeck’s article contains low-quality information, which is a sign of deception (specifically, concealment) but is not always the case. With this article, there are many obvious pieces of information that are not present, which an informed reader should expect from a high-quality news source. Most readers are not economists, but a company’s health is usually gathered by longer-termed trends than single day, or single week, rises and falls. Unless, of course, a major event happens that affects public stock options, but Haeck doesn’t justify this issue, and leads informee’s on to believe that it does using random facts. Haeck’s article appears to be misinformative, and it arguably appears to be disinformative because of the substantial amount of missing information. A publisher of information should never want to appear to be providing either, irrespective of being completely truthful.

In addition to providing more, and better connected information, Haeck (and many like him) need to explain why the informee should or should not feel emotionally weakened about Tesla when so little information is provided. This doesn’t need to be accomplished by (laughably) stating so, but by providing alternative primary-derivative and primary-operational information meant to educate. This could include many things, including the nature of car accidents, and nature of the stock market, or the history of Tesla’s value. There are so many things that could increase the validity and quality of this article.

Lastly, there are no links to the source. Did Haeck travel to Mexico to cover this? With this little information, I sure hope he copied this from somewhere else.

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