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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Media Trickery: Part 1

The news media loves hype. A recent article warned us that tons and tons of carbon dioxide were created to provide Christmas dinner for Britons. Or tons of CO2 were produced flying to the global warming conference in Bali.

The Gaia-loving media has some tricks they use to pull on the heart strings of their readers. Let’s consider a few.

Perspective is everything
Many in the media do not want you to have perspective when you are reading their claptrap. They do not want you to be able to focus clearly on what is presented. So they distort the picture deliberately to keep it out of focus.

Here is an example. A writer hypes billions and billions of pounds of CO2. 580 billion pounds of the stuff is incomprehensible. It’s a big number, but nondescript. That’s the intention. It is intended to overwhelm you. Whatever the size, volume or weight 580 billion pounds of the awful stuff is, it is intended to remain amorphous, mysterious, deadly and your fault.

Bigger numbers
In the above article, notice the writer hyped 580 billion pounds of the poison. Why talk about pounds? That is deliberately designed because it sounds worse than 290 million tons.

They love to use bigger numbers to make it sound better (or worse, depending on the situation). They figure we are like the little kid who will choose the ten pennies over the dime. The number, not value, is in the little one’s inexperienced mind. The bigger the number, the better (or worse) it is. 580 billion is more than 290 million, but when we know that 2,000 pounds are in a ton, then we are dealing with the same weight. Yet the larger number sounds worse. Most Americans are so mathematically challenged they are like the little kid.

Remember your math teacher said it would be useful! It is. Don’t be fooled by the media’s use of numbers.

The media loves to raise awareness about climate change. It's time we raise awareness of their tricky use of numbers.

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