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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Asymmetric stupidity and climate disruption

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."
-- Thomas Jefferson
CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are the most widely-watched cable news networks in the U.S. And Fox draws more viewers than all the others combined.  

So if Jefferson is right, we’re doomed.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a report on the accuracy of US cable news outlets in covering climate science.  The results are not encouraging.  

Science or Spin? Assessing the Accuracy of Cable News Coverage of Climate Science (2014) analyzed the networks' climate science coverage in 2013 and found that each network treated climate science - UCS says kindly, if not euphemistically -  “very differently":
Fox News was the least accurate; 72 percent of its 2013 climate science-related segments contained misleading statements. CNN was in the middle, with about a third of segments featuring misleading statements. MSNBC was the most accurate, with only eight percent of segments containing misleading statements.
UCS says:
The public deserves climate coverage that gets the science right. Media outlets can do more to foster a fact-based conversation about climate change and policies designed to address it, rather than contributing to a broken and inaccurate debate about the established facts of climate science.
We live in a nation, as Paul Krugman says, of asymmetric stupidity.

We deserve better than infotainment, intellectual pablum, ideological chest-thumping, and political tribalism. But that's what we're getting.  Our democracy’s survival – and our own – depend on whether we have the capacity to evolve beyond that - and quickly.

So, what will we demand? 

Because, ultimately, we will get what we deserve




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