Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Global Warming Skeptic Bites Dog

The media loves to exaggerate, or sometimes misrepresent things. Get Religion has taught me to look out for a few things, not the least of which is the headline disparity. Does the headline really match the story? Take this little gem over at AP. According to the headline: Global Warming Critic Reverses Course! The unspoken assumption based on the headline can't be clearer: the overwhelming evidence of such a hot year has finally helped a renowned skeptic see the light. It doesn't say that, but the wording would lead a person to assume it. But read the story. You find that he is not a skeptic at all. He accepts Man Made Global Warming, he even believes it is a problem. He just felt it wasn't as important as other human rights problems, such as AIDS or Malaria. It even ends the story pointing out that many MMGW advocates are not jumping up and down in celebration, and gives the reasons why. Not much of a story, but the media can use it to build that all-important narrative. One more story in the stack that will eventually sink into our collective conscience and say 'I've heard so much of this, it must be true.' The story itself means little in the scheme of thing. Not much more than 'dog bites man.' But the media knows if it runs story after story, however small their connections with the truth, eventually that little narrative will turn into 'man bites dog', even if such a thing never happened.


  1. What I find amazing is that people who refuse to be exposed to these manipulations are said to be cutting themselves off from knowing what's going on. Nine out of ten news stories I read tell me nothing anyway, either being fluff pieces, or giving no general data to back up the impression from the particular case or the claims made therein, and then on top of that the one out of ten that teaches me something as often as not is only half factual and the other half is fallacious. Yet if I prefer to try to find info somewhere other than this sea of noninformation, it's suggested I'm not keeping up with what's out there. Absurd, says I.

    On a side note, I recall there being a scene in That Hideous Strength where the NICE lady is telling Mark how the reader they need to educate into submission is the peasant who knows the real news stories are the ones about "little" crimes or accidents down on the side column of the fourth or sixth or eighth page, that is, the stories that don't claim to tell you the trend of the world anyhow and just let you know local happenings. Of course, that still doesn't help you establish anything in generalities -- GK Chesterton, on the other hand, noted that this is impossible since the media necessarily reports exceptions (they can't keep printing, "Mr. Smith, 32 years of age, of Cincinnati, still alive") -- but then, if it's being done right, it doesn't claim to (whether explicitly or implicitly) either.

  2. "Yet if I prefer to try to find info somewhere other than this sea of noninformation, it's suggested I'm not keeping up with what's out there."

    I find many of these catch-22s out there when it comes to seeking alternatives to the collective wisdom of our age.


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