Monday, March 14, 2011

False Equivalence Dance

On the one side were the scientists, and Ph. D.’s, and such,
With a vast amount of data for their model
On the other side, celebrities who didn’t know so much
But were passionately supporting utter twaddle

In the middle were the media, delivering the news
With a lot of time to fill, from six to eight
Since it takes a bit of work to find the better side to choose,
They give evidence and piffle equal weight

You can dedicate your life to understanding a disease
And can truly make the world a better place
But the channel six reporter with a sponsor to appease
Gives the other side, with someone’s famous face

It’s a dance of false equivalence that actively distorts,
Giving idiots and experts equal say
And the audience grows dumber just from watching these reports
Couldn’t someone, somewhere, find a better way?

I was going to have separate verses for different example of this dance in the news, from climate change to vaccines to torture to whether a lobotomy is required, or just customary, for republican front-runners, but I have grading to do, so the briefer version is here and done. Of course, I'm looking for someone to give the opposing view equal time, so feel free to give a rebuttal in the comments, along with evidence that you are rich, famous, powerful, or attractive (preferably some combination of these factors) so that we know how much to pay attention to your point of view.

Inspired by the comment thread here, but not directly.


george.w said...


One of my favorites from The Onion: Actual expert too boring for TV.

Melissa said...

Celebrities have always bored me. I get much more excited listening to experts because it’s interesting and intellectually challenging. But I also like research and discovering new things and hate the idea of giving equal time to nonsense. I guess I’m just one of those weird geeks.

However, I’m also devastatingly attractive (I’m terribly vain) and as a trained librarian now have a geeky sort of power. I don’t have the money or fame. I should work on that. Then, maybe someone with some pull would listen to me. Or I could just take over the world and put actual experts in charge of television programming and do something really mean to Jenny McCarthy.

shellity said...

I've got Google on my laptop and I nearly finished school,
I can dance quite well and also sing a song,
I've got several half-baked talents and my mother thinks I'm cool,
So I'm qualified to tell you that you're wrong.

The Ridger, FCD said...

The problem is, they don't have to be celebs. "Balance" is so sacred that any loon with an opposing viewpoint will do. "1,000,000 say X but we can't act like we're endorsing X - find me someone who'll say Y!"

It just helps if they're "scientists" (say, a biologist talking about physics or an engineer about evolution) or pretty, famous people...