Monday, December 01, 2008

How misinformation spreads

I already noted that Neal Boortz eagerly spread to his audience global warming denialism from the very non-credible David Bellamy. Despite Bellamy having made assertions that are demonstrably false, Boortz's audience will likely not become aware of that because those inclined to listen to Boortz in the first place are already deliberately tuning into a medium that is specifically designed to give listeners an alternative view of reality, where the non fact-checked opinion and beliefs of radio stars goes unchallenged as the authoritative view on any given subject, as an answer to what they perceive as the "liberal bias" of more credible sources of information.

I expect that from AM radio, but I expect better from print news, which should hold itself to a higher standard of intellectual honesty and objectivity. Yet we see the same creeping relativism at work. Case in point: Gavin Schmidt at Real Climate wondering why a columnist for the San Fransico Chronicle -Debra Saunders - was allowed to write a piece which was full of factually false claims about global warming that should not have survived fact-checking. Indeed, two of the main bogus points she makes are the same two false claims that Bellamy made. This is not surprising, given that she is using Bellamy as a source.

Why is Saunders able to pass along bogus information at odds with the science of the issue? I don't know enough about this particular instance to say for sure, but I can generalize that there is now a tendency in the press to blur the distinction between facts and opinion, categorizing assertions - whether they be facts or opinions - as either "liberal" or "conservative" and then granting each equal legitimacy be virtue of a person holding the view. As Molly Ivins put it

The American press has always had a tendency to assume that the truth must lie exactly halfway between any two opposing points of view. Thus, if the press presents the man who says Hitler is an ogre and the man who says Hitler is a prince, it believes it has done the full measure of its journalistic duty.

This tendency has been aggravated in recent years by a noticeable trend to substitute people who speak from a right-wing ideological perspective for those who know something about a given subject.


malcontent said...

I just received another article from corporatist ideologues that may interest you.

Most likely quotes taken out of context and such but I appreciate your debunking.

Hume's Ghost said...

I stopped reading after the second sentence - "This new 231-page U.S. Senate Minority Report report -- updated from 2007's groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming 'consensus'"

I already posted about that bogus list from 2007.

It' just more of the same.