Friday, June 22, 2007

So It Must Be True

I well remember an old phrase that my Dad often used “You are talking through (or, out of) your hat”. The meaning of this phrase is “to be talking about a subject as if you know a lot about it, when in fact, you know very little or nothing at all.”

This bothers me because I may do this on occasion. I do not take the time to look up the facts. Let’s face it we are lazy people. We have better things to do than to confirm the facts and figures. We rely on the biased media to tell us the truth.

Worst yet we use Wikipedia for our facts and figures.

Don’t get me wrong, like millions of other people, I use Wikipedia. But not for facts and figures! The attitude that “It’s on Wikipedia – so it must be true” scares me. Practically anyone can edit or post an entry on just about any subject to Wikipedia. Stephen Colbert proved this last summer.

Then we also get our information (facts and figures) from the media. Television News Channels drive me to the point insanity. Both Liberal and Conservative news channels tend to distort the news to fit their political agenda. And the political talk shows on cable television are even worse. Do people really believe this crap? I guess so, judging from some of the emails that I receive. I don’t, because I realize that it is only someone’s opinion. And opinions are like assholes – everyone has one.

Opinion is not the reporting of the news; it is simply someone's view on the day’s events. There is nothing wrong with that, if news reporting is not tainted by a person's ideology and the viewer/reader is told that it is just their opinion of the news. But no, we’re told that this is gospel (infallible truth). And many believe it as gospel. Worst yet we repeat it to others as being gospel.

Now, at this point, the misinformation that we have received from the biased media and have passed on to others is growing like a cancer. So and so said this; so it must be true.

If you repeat something enough times people will tend to believe it to be true. For example, I’ve been saying that George W. Bush has been a terrible President for the past 6 years. According to the latest polls people are beginning to believe it! Maybe I’ll make a George W. Bush Wikipedia entry.

Will Rogers facetiously said "Well, all I know is what I read in the papers." Fortunately for Will there was no television or internet at that time!

The Beach Bum

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Blogger alfredo said...

I think a big part of the decay of the news is looking at it as a source of revenue, instead of a public service.

Consolidation of the media has hurt the quality of the news. Look at what has happened to radio. It is dominated by a couple very powerful corporations with a clearly defined political bias.

Blogs like yours and others have become how many get their news and views. (As far as I know, you aren't controlled by big Pharma, or a defense contractor.)

I trust Talking Points Memo for investigative journalism over the Big three. TPM tends to have the story nailed weeks before it is picked up by the big new organizations. They were right on the money about the Duke Cunningham scandal and the US Attorney firings. The media still hasn't really explained why this story is a big deal.

Fri Jun 22, 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous davee5 said...

I'm not so sure the problem is so much the distortion of facts as the absence of facts. Especially in the case of TV. Just think how many news stories involve REACTIONS to a fact or event, rather than discussion of the fact or event itself.

Sat Jun 23, 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger alfredo said...

It's not just the facts or lack of facts, it is how they frame an issue, you know, is the glass half full or half empty.

here's an example: Look at the numbers in the Democratic primary race. Hillary has appox 38% while the others are in the teens, twenties, or single digits.

One way to frame it is to say she has a double digit lead over her Democratic opponents. Another way to frame it is to say that Hillary only has 38% of the vote.

She goes from a winner to a loser depending on how you present the numbers. To make it work you have to repeat it over and over again, or as bush says, "catapult the propaganda." It also needs a clueless or complaint news media.

Sat Jun 23, 10:22:00 PM  
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