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Sunday, July 21, 2013

News you can trust



Our sources of important news events and political information are suspect. Some trust Fox News completely, and others trust MSNBC, while others go with CNN. Many believe they can listen to all sources and average the truth in the claims. Since single sourcing your news supply is self-limiting, because you have to live in a small box, an alternative is “the truth lies in the middle” approach. I decided to test this concept. I ask several three year old preschool children “what is 2 times 2”. The answers were 3, 5, 22, a “set of shoes”, “blue birds”, and one precocious child replied “3 and a half” with excellent self confidence. Averaging these answers produced the wrong answer, so much for “the truth lies in the middle” theory. Next I asked a sixth grader who promptly answered four. I checked with several other students ranging across the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. A consistent answer was four, with other responses of “is there a prize?”, “are you a child molester?”, and “why don’t you know?” I deemed these youngsters as showing great promise.
Examining data gathered in my carefully designed experiment some conclusions can be drawn. First, the correct answer is best provided by someone who has studied the subject, generally called an “expert”, and second, the expert should not have an agenda.
Employing these uncomplicated guidelines, I find few experts expounding among the many available venues of cable news shows. Some networks contained no experts by this measure. The definition of “expert” instead morphed into someone that displays zeal for the subject combined with the occasional polysyllabic word, bonus points awarded for consistency with the network’s agenda. The polysyllabic words denote great intelligence, and a loud voice denotes absolute correctness of the position. The network’s stated agenda will concur with a demographic segment which in turn ensures a profitable audience.
I and my fellow “low information voters” are universally aware of this flaw. But then, we are not the target audience, indeed, we are the vilified target of the target audience. One network’s carefully identified target audience requires enemies to maintain a social cohesion and a supportable self identification.
I don’t fall into the 20% that follow Sean Hannity, I don’t fall into the 20% that follow Rachel Maddow, and I don’t fall into the 50% that will follow both then average the difference, I fall into the 10% that follow the Animal Planet. I will visit the Science Channel, the History Channel, or the Weather Channel, with current events available from the Comedy Chanel. Major world events leak into my consciousness through Face Book or Twitter. As a true “low information voter” I am well informed, for example, I know that a woman can become pregnant during rape (The Science Channel), I know that the Great Depression ended with World War 2 (The History Chanel), I know that all politicians act political (The Comedy Chanel), I know that an American symbol, the Bald Eagle, is no longer an endangered species (The Animal Planet), and I know that Dyson makes the best vacuum cleaner (Midnight Infomercial).
As the prototypical “low information voter” I am not constantly stressed by some artificially manufactured scandal de jour, I am not sick and tired of being sick and tired, I am not frightful about some highly improbable, likely nonexistent threat, and I don’t hate 47% of my fellow Americans. I am quite content to lie in a hammock and read a book. All are welcome to this calm, low cost existence, feel free to join me. Turn off the news cable show, there is far superior entertainment available.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "far superior entertainment"
is on HGTV.