Real Balance & True Objectivity
Good piece on Media Watch about the ‘false balance’ which pervades much of the media these days. ‘False balance’ is when a story gives equal weights to both sides of an argument, even when one side is supported by overwhelming credible scientific evidence, and the other is nothing but opinion, discredited junk science, and special interests seeking to push their own wheelbarrow in spite of the facts.
MW uses the example of vaccination, overwhelmingly proven safe and effective by all credible scientific evidence, being ‘balanced’ in media reports by the bletherings of the anti-vaccination crew. This gives the impression that the anti-vaccination case is as strong as the pro-vaccination case, with equaly credible evidence. This is not true, and reports that give that impression are effectively lies.
The same nonsense happens in reports on flouridation, climate change, and homosexuality. The arguments are reported in such a way that blind unreasoning prejudice bolstered by discredited junk science and amateur ‘commonsense’ is given equal weight with calm rational, science.
MW argues that it is the journo’s job not just to report the existence of two sides to an argument, but also to explain why they are not equal. This is NOT bias, this is responsible journalism.
I’d like to see this standard of balance and objectivity applied next time someone writes up another report of ACL tripe.
The God Squad
Speaking of objectivity, what do you make of this You Deserve to Know the Truth: Contraception effort from the (Roman Catholic, natch) Children Of Mary Order of nuns?
They claim that when women take contraceptives, they become less desirable to men, who then turn to other men. So women are to blame for the huge increase in the number of homosexuals in the world – because if women suppress their pheremones and hence don’t don’t smell fertile, any man will naturally turn to other men for sex instead. Or something like that.
So women must all stop ‘contracepting’ to save the world from turning gay. Oh, and you needn’t worry about having lots of babies, because the entire current population of the world would fit comfortably into the state of Texas.
You have to wonder about the standard of Catholic education these days, don’t you? I mean, we let these people run thousands of schools all over the world. But maybe we shouldn’t. On the other hand, just to be safe, maybe women should stop wearing perfume and deodorants, just like the sisters.
The good sisters are distributing their video around the US as part of the RC Church’s ongoing interference in the Presidential election.
The Orthodox Church obviously haven’t seen the sister’s video. But no matter. Unlike the US variety, Russian homosexuality is easily cured. “But the thing is, this illness is easily treated by fasting and praying. … People get rid of it, just like they get rid of kleptomania or, for instance, fornicators.”
A more sinister case of Vatican interference has shown up here in Victoria, Australia. It appears that the church is attemtping to interfere in police investigations into child rape by members of the clergy. And there are fears that some in the Victorian Police are assisting them.
”I know there are many ‘pro-church’ police members throughout our organisation and I hope [the senior US Catholic official] is not canvassing them and pulling strings to derail the investigation,” writes one of the policemen who was taken off a case after complaints from a senior US Catholic clergyman. Top cop taken off abuse inquiry.
The sergeant says in his letter that he has a ”grave concern” that someone in the church and ”possibly the police force may be trying to stifle this investigation” as it nears completion.
And finally in this segment, an important gay evangelical Anglican has admitted that “conservative evangelicals are repelled by gay people, that homosexuality is not a choice, and that God won’t cure it, even if omnipotence means He could.” It’s a sad and frustrating story: The church’s wars over sexuality are coming to an end.
Alan Jones’ Suspenders
Everyone is currently engaged in bagging Alan Jones – and rightly so. He was beyond offensive. Of course, he has a right to say whatever he wishes – but so do we. And companies have the right to be informed of what we think, and to reconsider whether they want their precious brands associated with the stuff Jones says. That is his weak point, and any attack there will have the most impact.
It’s notable that most advertisers are talking about ‘suspending’ their advertising, not stopping it altogether. They must think that this will blow over in time – as previous controversies around Jones have tended to do – and they will be able to sneak back after a suitable interval of mourning.
In the meantime, people may consider boycotting companies who stand by Jones. But, as this piece from Bangor, Maine, asks, Whom do boycotts affect?. The question arose here, when there was for a time great pressure to boycott Gloria Jeans Coffees over their support for the ACL.
But many people thought a boycott of all Gloria Jeans branches was too blunt an instrument: many branches were gay owned, or run, or staffed, or provided space for gay groups. Should we be punishing the innocent along with the guilty?
Dragoncastle Asia reports on NZ fears of people adopting a new HIV prevention strategy: Warnings Over Miracle HIV Pill. It’s worth quoting at length:
“Fears are being raised that a new ‘miracle’ pill [Truvada] could spark a fresh wave of the AIDS epidemic in Auckland.
“The HIV treatment drug Truvada is being touted in the US as a way to protect against infection, and local AIDs campaigners fear this false promise will lead to complacency about safe sex.
“New Zealand Aids Foundation director Shaun Robinson said men are foolishly thinking they are ‘safe’ or not infectious if they are taking the drug, something that could reverse all their hard work.
“The idea that condoms are no longer necessary is a very dangerous idea. What we would see is a huge increase in HIV again.”
I seem to remember that in the Michael Neal case, much was made of his belief that he couldn’t infect others because he had an ‘undetectable viral load’.
I now heard that the Victorian AIDS Council may be about to launch a new HIV prevention strategy which involves putting uninfected people on Truvada, as a preventative.
If that led to more people having unprotected sex – that is, without a condom – that could lead to greatly increased rates of Hep C, syphilis and gonorrhoea, which can be devastating to HIV+ people. It might also fuel the creating of drug-resistant strains of HIV. I think NZ is right to be worried.