September 10, 2007

Britney and/or terrorists versus the Arctic ice caps

Posted in Environment, Media at 8:04 pm by The Lizard Queen

Things aren’t looking good up at the North Pole: “An area of Arctic sea ice the size of Florida has melted away in just the last six days as melting at the top of the planet continues at a record rate.”

Furthermore, “Sea ice usually melts in the Arctic summer and freezes again in the winter, but according to Dr. Serreze [a specialist from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center at Colorado University], that would be difficult this year.”

However, Echidne of the Snakes states that lists that tell us what we should fear focus on terrorists and say “nothing about fearing the melting ice of the Arctic,” and Joy Harjo makes the following point:

Now why are Brittany Spears or Lindsay Lohan’s escapades more important? Maybe because they are distractions.
Might the companies representing them have an interest in distracting us?
Now why would they want to do that?

I can’t really speak to corporate motivation, but I think I can understand why people are more inclined to pay attention to fears of terrorists and/or stories of celebrity escapades.  The former comfort us; our country is fighting The Good Fight.  the latter comfort us further; our lives might be fucked up, but at least they’re not that fucked up.

What would happen if the news media suddenly stopped feeding us comfort food?



  1. k said,

    Britney’s performance was as good to me as a nice, warm bowl of macaroni & cheese. With a little green chile mixed in, and some corn flake crumbs on top. And less filling, too! I heart media comfort food.

  2. DavidD said,

    My comfort TV is sports and the science shows on PBS, History Channel, and Discovery Channel. Because of that second group I’m quite sure that man-made carbon dioxide is changing the planet. I’m also sure that while the worst possible outcome has been played up for those who watch these shows, Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News could still have a program in recent months where his biased guests claimed to refute “virtually every significant assertion” Al Gore made in An Inconvenient Truth. See Media Matters re: Glenn Beck for details.

    It is enlightening to see how such contrary conclusions are reached. Words are twisted, such as quibbling over exactly which part of Antartica is melting away and when. Rush Limbaugh did this years ago, calling the hole in the ozone layer a hoax because it was only present part of the year, ignoring the science of why it should be only seasonal. Data is twisted to the same end. Quotations are taken out of context or taken from kooks, as if those constitute data. Sometimes people even engage in outright fantasy. I’m shocked.

    For a long time I’ve felt the absence of a referee to settle political, religious and similarly contentious disputes like this. Football fans finally got instant reply to make better decisions. Of course many fans aren’t satisfied with even that. Still they got some attention. More serious disputes have no final arbiter at all, no matter how flawed. I think time decides, but maybe that’s my delusion.

    I would offer my services as a judge of such things. I can rise above any allegiance to anyone. People who know me well would testify to that. Yet there’s no desire for such a judge. Everyone wants to be their own judge, and there are plenty of people pandering to them, not only in the media and the blogosphere.

    Anyone who wants can deny global warming. Anyone who wants can deny biological evolution. The way people do that is similar for both. People trust their fellow Republicans or Bible-believing Christians, who trust some apologists who make the best argument they can that the left-wingers are just attacking tradition or capitalism with this “pseudoscience”. I think the most interesting people are those apologists who actually know enough of the science to label the mainstream “pseudoscience”. I think it’s both succinct and reasonably accurate to say such apologists are nuts, egotists who have a variety of reasons to deny the mainstream, from being mavericks to being very loyal to tradition. Read enough of their writings and you can see that.

    One can find similar assessments in the blogosphere, but where is it in the media? Which cable news channel labeled Bush’s claim that both evolution and creation should be taught as crazy, just as crazy as when Reagan said it? Or maybe it was uneducated or pandering to creationists or something else, but it wasn’t legitimate. It’s not supportable by exhaustive rational argument. On this all the media plays host to guests from both sides of the “controversy”, the sane side and the insane side.

    On Britney and Lindsay, the media takes sides, as they offend only a few people that way and let others say something they really enjoy. “Look at these rich girls gone bad.” On science, the media tries to be impartial, except when it doesn’t. The media panders to people. Some like Fox get their ratings from telling people what they want to hear. If people want to believe that Saddam Hussein attacked the WTC and that global warming is in question, Fox won’t challenge them with the opposite. Others try to be impartial and give other people what those people want. Those people want to be their own judge, maybe to admire Bush and Reagan for their “moderate” view of evolution, maybe not to worry about how high their house is over sea level. That’s the best I can imagine as an explanation.

    If you could get good ratings calling those who oppose the scientific mainstream kooks and idiots as PZ Myers does, wouldn’t someone be reaching for those ratings? PZ reaches for them on the blogosphere. Maybe in the UK he could get on TV with that.

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