All the “news” is anymore is an opinionated commentary designed to sway a line of thought. The “news” is not a delivery anymore. It is an ultimatum. Either you believe what the news tells you or you are wrong. And what it amounts to is simply a power grab by a lot of deluded megalomaniacs who have beliefs founded in nothing more than their own opinion which in turn, depending on the commentator, are dubiously based in fact. It is an institution of stupid people just smart enough to know they can pander to an army of stupider people and wield immense power. They influence the weak minded, and unfortunately there are a lot more stupid people in the world than there are smart people. (Whether or not I’m one of those stupid people is up for debate.)
I could site examples of many people that are clueless when it comes to science, society, and politics, but I won’t because of politeness. They are convinced to believe because people on TV tell them that’s what Jesus, Yahweh, Mohammad [insert other favorite deity here] would want them to do or that a “real” American, Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, Republican [insert favorite political ideology here] would do this. That terrifies me. Again, I have no problem with a leader influencing when it is based off of facts and evidence, so I have no problem influencing those that listen to the “news” as long as only things that are truthful to best of human understanding are presented. The problem is a lot of the news is only vaguely true. Rumors are published with little verification, and truths and statistics are misrepresented to assert a particular political ideal. A commentator’s opinion is given as fact. Speculation becomes substantive.
The best solution to the “news” is education. More logic, math, science, and ethics courses need to be taught in high school. People should understand what a logical fallacy is (the “news” is brimming with examples of logical fallacies [e.g. straw man, appeal to the masses – which is a fallacy almost every single voter poll commits]); they should comprehend basic statistics so they know when a commentator is merely pulling numbers out of a hat. They should grasp basic scientific concepts like evolution. And they should at least have a clear understanding of what they personally believe is right and wrong. All of this is nice, but it will take a long time to change the public’s desire to be told what to think. Thus (as many things appear to be), the time to act and reform education is now. Individually, each of us should devote ourselves to being as educated on a subject that impacts society as we possibly can. Additionally, encourage others to seek out the facts on their own. Don’t just tell other people what the facts are. Educational growth comes from the journey to knowledge, not just the knowledge itself.
Secondly, let us all agree to just stop watching the Becks, O’Reillys, and Olbermanns of the world. The only way they go away is if we tell them to by ignoring them.
I thought I would share this anecdote about a conversation with my dad. This may seem like one my of terrible jokes, but the conversation actually occurred.
I’m home visiting my parents for the next few days, and as is my usual habit, I try to tend to the garden since my parents are rather neglectful of it. In my parent’s yard, I had an orange tree that produced quite a few oranges (~40) every year for about 5 years before the cold killed it last winter (you can go to my website for pictures if you like). Note that orange trees (and most citrus) only need one tree for pollination. That is, pollen from one flower on the plant can pollinate another flower on the same plant. At about the same time I planted the orange tree, I also planted two apple trees in the yard. This year one of them bloomed. However, there is no fruit at all on the tree. That is because with apples, two trees need to bloom and cross-pollinate to produce fruit. Pollen from one tree must be taken to the other tree to get a harvest. Having one tree bloom gets you nothing, no matter how many flowers are on the one tree. My dad was aggravated that there were no apples on the tree despite it blooming prolifically. I tried to explain that you need two trees, to which he protested that the orange tree produced fruit alone so why can’t the apples. I responded in the only way I could. I told him he could not compare apples to oranges.
And that is probably the only time where that cliche can be used literally.