Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paid to be dumb

This morning I flipped to the Glenn Beck radio program to hear him in the midst of a bizarre anti-scientist rant regarding some news item about scientists having possibly shortened the life of the universe by observing dark matter. The entire segment was actually an attack on global warming.

Beck was saying that scientists blame him for destroying the planet for driving an SUV but they're destroying the universe and other such nonsense. Then he shifted into feeble mockery, rambling about scientists thinking the universe is expanding, now shrinking; too big, now too small, which is obviously based on the global warming denialist myth of a global cooling scare. Maybe they can call it dark matter change (climate change ... hah ha ... get it?) etc.

I did a google search on the subject and Rush Limbaugh - the Idiot-in-Chief of the conservative movement - turned up. As you can see from the link, Beck is echoing Limbaugh's moronity. What is common to both is that they admit that they don't understand quantum physics, yet then go on to talk about it anyway - using it as a jumping off point to bash climate science. And, as usual, they are once again wrong: "Krauss, in the interviews, took care to abjure the headline's notion that humankind was somehow responsible for shortening the universe's life. But Drudge picked up the Telegraph headline, and then it was off to the races."

So to recap: Beck and Limbaugh took a paper by two scientists about cosmology that was completely unrelated to global warming, read a news item that got the conclusion of the paper wrong, and then used that wrong conclusion to say that "scientists" are wrong about global warming because they have an ideological desire to bash humanity.**

This is not atypical. It is what Limbaugh and Beck and other such figures do an a daily basis. They are paid to talk about issues that they know nothing about, to offer their ignorant opinions as authoritative rebuttal to "liberal" misinformation/bias (read: reality). Their salaries are not dependent on being right or having any professional integrity ... they can lie or mislead as much as they like without ever having to give it a second thought.

It is fairly disturbing that not only can someone get rich by working within the noise machine spreading stupidity, but that a figure like Beck can also do so working for in the mainstream media. Of course, Beck works for CNN Headline Prime, which is an abomination: a network which pretends at being a news channel but is in reality is an effort of CNN to capitalize on the worst elements of both Fox and MSNBC. Which is why Glenn Beck and the reprehensible Nancy Grace* are the flagship programs of the network.

It does not bode well for the future of democracy that CNN feels the need to trade its credibility for the ratings that someone like Beck can draw in. Nevermind the ideological affirmative action.

*I mentioned before that I would not spend much time responding to specific arguments of consevative movement figures and instead offered a reference book to demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of the movement. I don't know that Grace is a movement conservative, but she is a hack, and I offer this book as a reference of that. And, no, I don't approve of the book's title.
**Sentence edited 11/29/07

Update: I just noticed that Wired also responded to Limbaugh's nonsense. Yeah, sure ... scientists have demonstrated that elevated levels of CO2 from human sources are the primary cause of the Earth's current warming, but that's the truth ... it's not truthiness. Truth comes from the head, but truthiness comes from the gut. And Limbaugh's gut tells him that mankind can't affect the Earth's environment.

It's like Stephen Colbert explained:

We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book.

Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument.
So does Limbaugh (and Beck to a lesser extent, which isn't saying much.)


vRad said...

Its ridiculous to see the sorry state to which the media has descended. 4th estate no more.

Thanks for all the great links and commentary. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it. 'Speaking from the gut' is the current euphemism for 'talking out your ass.'