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One Minute of Science Per Five Hours of Cable News

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  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:25AM (#22781518)
    I suspect the quality of that science is also very lacking....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:29AM (#22781546)
    The minute of news is most probably completely wrong anyway.
    • by creimer (824291)
      If you think science news has it tough, true news has it worse with one minute out of 24 hours. Even then sharpshooters are standing by to shoot it down to protect the American public from itself.
    • by demachina (71715)
      Science and technology junkies don't need to feel bad. Its pretty tough to get more than a minute of news in five hours for anything but the latest murder or kidnapping of some pretty young white girl, the latest on Brittany and Paris, and hour after hour of campaign coverage. Cable news is only going to cover news that gets them ratings, not what is important. Unfortunately the female demographic overwhelming wants sordid crime stories, preferably involving pretty young white women as the victim. They al
  • Tag this article "pewpewpew".

    I'm so sorry, really. I'll go now.
  • Would they care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swizec (978239) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:32AM (#22781556) Homepage
    It seems to me that the average television viewing person couldn't care less about science news. Unless it's groundbreaking and will most definitely change their lives they don't care and if it does, well then it's in the news anyway.

    Be honest, how many average people do you know who might care about a galaxy eating another galaxy ... and then again ... if memory serves I saw that on the news a few days after it was on Slashdot because the pictures were pretty.

    News networks don't care about news, they care about viewership.
    • by drsquare (530038)

      Be honest, how many average people do you know who might care about a galaxy eating another galaxy
      Is that really news if it happened millions of years ago?
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:35AM (#22781562)
    FTFA: From 5 hours:

    * 35 minutes about campaigns and elections
    * 36 minutes about the debate over U.S. foreign policy
    * 26 minutes or more of crime
    * 12 minutes of accidents and disasters
    * 10 minutes of celebrity and entertainment

    On the other hand, one would have seen:

    * 1 minute and 25 seconds about the environment
    * 1 minute and 22 seconds about education
    * 1 minute about science and technology
    * 3 minutes and 34 seconds about the economy

    Or to put that in perspective...

    1 hour 11 minutes of campaigns. elections and foreign policy and then.. only 4 minutes 56 seconds on education and economy!!?

    I would of thought the two would of gone hand in hand. How else to the politicians intend to persuade you lot to vote?
    • by faloi (738831)
      Since most politicians have been pitifully inadequate, it actually helps them to have a lot of time spent on barely scratching the surface of very complex subjects coupled with them discussing how pitiful the other politicians are (regardless of the fact that their views are almost lockstep with one another). If in-depth information of value ever really got out to the public at large, I'm willing to bet that most politicians currently in power would be looking for some new jobs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IBBoard (1128019)
      Five hours of news and only 10 minutes of celebs? Based on most UK news that seems far too low. We borrow things like American Idol from the US and our TV is excessively Celebrity-centric, so what news channel were they watching that wasn't?!
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I would have said the same thing, based on Canadian news. I guess it depends which news program you are watching. You don't get much celeb news if you watch the CBC, but you do tend to get a lot of it on some other networks.
      • by jrumney (197329)
        Paris Hilton was out of town on the day they did the survey.
      • by ashitaka (27544)
        Ummm, you do realize that American Idol is based on the British program "Pop Idol" and that many of the classic American programs that Yanks get nostalgic about are based on British programs:

        Steptoe and Son begat Sanford and Son.
        Til Death US Do Part begat All in the Family
        etc.

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:46AM (#22781992) Homepage Journal
      As for the politician question, for those of us Americans we should have all received from the IRS our official "Politician Relection Act" statement, aka the Economic Stimulus Package. Opening that up and reading who qualified was a big kick in the nuts for those who actually work. Then again those who pay the majority of taxes are already going to vote, the politicians need those others who don't normally vote; too lazy to do so - a general reflection on their other daily activities; and so checks needed to go out with a glorification of government for providing the money.

      Politicians do not want an educated public. They want votes, ignorant people vote out of emotion more so than facts and as such they play to those ignorances. They play on bigotry, class envy, fear, and hatred. The news media caters to them, hell their story lineup pretty much is the same thing.

      We talk about science and technology but rarely act on them. Its all the rage in schools until Little Susy gets a D then we can't have those subjects anymore because someone isn't capable of keeping pace and suddenly we are more concerned about feelings than getting them up to speed. We don't celebrate the leaders and achievers in school because it hurts other people's feelings. As such we don't emphasize areas which do require dedication and work : namely sciences and math. Cable news will cater to that as well, this is the American Idol generation.

      The best thing about American Idol is that losers are shown and the winners celebrated. If we took that achievement equates to success ethic back to the schools then perhaps the kids would want something different out of the news when they grow into adults.
      • For the love of whatever deity, please mod parent "Insightful", for it appears that American society has deteriorated a great deal in the last 50 years, when it comes to public perception of science and technology. You know, science used to be a prestigious profession, and used to be respected. Now, the only persistent emotions I see towards science and technology is spite. Our youth has become fat and lazy... complacent and arrogant. We are allowing subsequent generations to grow dumber than the next!
        • You know, science used to be a prestigious profession, and used to be respected. Now, the only persistent emotions I see towards science and technology is spite.

          Unfortunately, I think that's in part because science has jumped into the political realm, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes intentionally. Global warming, stem cell research, cloning, take your pick. Science is becoming a tool of the governments. And it no longer places ethical boundaries on itself. Environmentalism for some has become the new,
          • I disagree with your judgment of "ethical boundaries". You must be buying too much either into the media coverage of science, or the religious propaganda against it. Let me avail you of your fears. As a biomedical scientist, I can tell you that now, the ethical restrictions that the scientific community has imposed upon itself, are far stricter than ever before in history. If you don't realize, perhaps you should consider that B.F. Skinner experimented on his daughter.

            In the end, we have to either trust the
            • As a biomedical scientist, I can tell you that now, the ethical restrictions that the scientific community has imposed upon itself, are far stricter than ever before in history. If you don't realize, perhaps you should consider that B.F. Skinner experimented on his daughter.

              I also realize that companies today are benefiting from experiments and research done by the Nazi's in WWII. Makes you stop and think the next time you see a Bayer commercial for insecticide. Yes, they discovered aspirin, but they also d
              • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @05:05PM (#22788000)

                I also realize that companies today are benefiting from experiments and research done by the Nazi's in WWII.

                So what? Meh, I'll get back to this.

                What I see today is global lawmakers seeming to have to set limits on how far they're willing to let their scientists go

                Close. You see lawmakers choosing to do so, so that they can campaign on how moral they are and how evil their opponents are because (gasp!) not everybody has an identical set of beliefs or an identical moral code. And they do it for the same reasons you bring out, which are entirely the wrong reasons.

                And what if they're successful? While their method might be condemned, their results would certainly be used.

                Because there is no such thing as bad knowledge, merely bad people and bad applications. If I find a cure for cancer by disemboweling babies and feeding them to terrorists, I should go to jail--and other scientists should be absolutely jumping on my discoveries to determine what the hell I was doing that ended up working, and if there's a way to duplicate the effect in a more ethical manner. Anybody who suggests waving their hands and going, "no, wait! We can't use that knowledge, it was discovered in a bad way!" is, sorry, an idiot.

                I obviously don't condone what the Nazis did, but the idea that we shouldn't use their results is absurd. Even if you want to frame it as a purely ethical argument, why not make the horrible deaths or maimings of these people mean something if their suffering truly did lead to discoveries that are going to help other people?

                I also think it's pretty obvious that some contries, such as China, don't share our level of ethics when it comes to human experimentation.

                I certainly can't deny it. The fallacy in that argument is the assumption that ours are the correct set of ethics in all cases, or even that there is an "our;" it seems like just in a sample set of you and me that we could sit down and identify a number of significant differences.

                The problem with ethics is that people have them because they believe they are the best. If I thought some other ethical concept was superior to my own, I would adopt it as my own. In other words: Most people are entirely unwilling to even acknowledge the idea that somebody else may be as right as they are. Anybody who has studied ethics in a meaningful way understands there are a ridiculous number of theories of how to determine the "right" set of ethics, and that many of those theories either have what most people consider glaring holes (simple utilitarianism may support the Nazi's actions for example) or come to alternate conclusions given the exact same set of input data. Ethics are not a simple thing, nor are they a concrete thing. Simply putting them to a "vote" (choosing the system of the majority, or even allowing elected officials to dictate them down to scientists) is faulty on many levels.

                Most religions see life as beginning at conception. So to grow a blastocyst to harvest stem cells is no different than aborting a 6-month embryo and doing so--it not only smacks of playing God, but of another queasy ability to easily kill some humans to benefit others.

                I think your true rationale has come out; your religious views contradict some scientific ideas.

                So okay, most religions may define the beginning of life to be conception and, as of yet, most people in the US remain in some way religious. What meaningful conclusions does that allow us to draw about whether or not stem-cell research is right or wrong? I can trot out all the same examples of times religions have been horrifically wrong, or done terrible things to people itself--but I suspect you know them anyway, so there's no point there. And contrary to what religious people think of themselves and their religions, they do not own morality and (especially giv

    • "How else to the politicians intend to persuade you lot to vote?"

      I vote in the time-honored tradition of who talks the loudest in the debates. I have no clue what they're talking about, but they couldn't possibly get all that applause unless they had just made some awesome point, could they?
    • by kamapuaa (555446)
      An equally valid way to interpret those numbers is that people tend to get certain types of information from other sources than Cable TV News. With economics, there's the Internet, there's Newspapers, there's cable TV stations entirely dedicated to economic news, and so forth. General-purpose Cable TV News is not intended or perceived as a person's sole resource on the current state of the world today.
    • * 35 minutes about campaigns and elections
      * 36 minutes about the debate over U.S. foreign policy
      * 26 minutes or more of crime
      * 12 minutes of accidents and disasters
      * 10 minutes of celebrity and entertainment
      Some news stories fit into multiple categories, so we get to see 71 minutes (elections + crime + celebrity) worth of pictures of Spitzer's call girl.

      Not that there's anything wrong with that.
    • by mapkinase (958129)
      We had more scientific talk on TV in USSR than US now. One of the most popular programs was "Obvious and Impossible".

      But more striking contrast could be observed if you look at the printed subscription media. We had "Science and Life", immensely popular "Chemistry and Life", very popular hands-on "Technology to the Youth". The technology oriented journals had all kind of fun stuff besides technology as well: sci-fi fiction, funny stories, funny pictures.

      All that crap we have now in Russia: tabloids, glamour
  • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:43AM (#22781592)
    Its still more than you get on the Discovery Channel anymore...
  • Enticement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:49AM (#22781608) Journal
    People think that the commercials are there to entice you to buy the product. In fact, the shows are there to entice you to spend time in front of the TV. Broadcasters aren't in business to entertain. They are selling viewership to advertisers. Their product isn't the show. Their product is viewer attention, and the shows are how they attract viewers. This includes the news. The broadcasters learned long ago that controversy and disaster attract much more viewers than science, and good news. The news isn't there to inform and enlighten, it is there so they can sell air time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pgn674 (995941)
      Does /. do the same?

      I know, one liner replies suck. But, this other line commenting about the one-liner property of this post destroys said property. There's a lesson in that... ...maybe.
      • by melikamp (631205)

        Don't feel bad about how short your reply is. Or thin, rather, since adding more lines would make it thicker. It is not all about size. Some men can do more with their tiny one-liners than others with long beefy paragraphs. And when that happens, other men take notice. Not me, though. I am just a well-wisher, in that I do not wish you any specific harm.

    • by jackbird (721605)
      Actually, that business model is more or less explicitly not supposed to include the news programming. The broadcasters got their monopoly of the airwaves way back when at least partially in exchange for a promise that some portion of their programming would serve the public good (i.e. news).

      The advent of TV news divisions being expected to make a profit, and the attendent nosedive in journalistic standards, is fairly recent. Watch Network [imdb.com] now and it's hard to see how outrageous a satire the proto-reali

      • We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five.
        She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye.
        Its interesting when people die - Give us dirty laundry.

        The advent of TV news divisions being expected to make a profit, and the attendent nosedive in journalistic standards, is fairly recent.

        Things have changed with the ubiquitousness of cable and satellite tv. Back in days of yore, each station broadcast the news at the same time, so there was pretty much no point in channel su

    • by Herkum01 (592704)

      I think that you are wrong, it is EASIER and CHEAPER to produce a story about a disaster or controversy than it is about science. You have to be willing to spend some time about science in order to engage a viewer.

      News today is more about press releases and quick quotes, hell the news media does not really bother fact checking most of the time, which is stupid in a age where information is more available than any other time in history.

  • Go on then, with all the money that science gets for R&D, why doesn't the scientific community use a tiny part of it to launch its own channel covering 'proper' science.

    But, oh no, scientists everywhere suddenly claim poverty and, anyway, are far too busy tinkering with the LHC, latest mega-laser and juggling bacteria.

    Anyway, you only get covered in the media if you spend money on it.
    Science isn't sexy for 98.2% of the western world (i looked it up)
    With religious loonies running much of the
    • by JohnFluxx (413620)
      Well a lot of scientists do end up lecturing some of the week. And there's barely enough to time to do that.
  • When I watch the "noos" I see stories about high achieving high school students, cats saved from fires, Paris Hilton, the latest actor picked up for drunk driving. the annual arrival of Girl Scout cookies, plucky disabled people, gang shootings, BS, BS, BS.

    So, out of the five hours of "news" broken down by foreign affairs, domestic affairs, campaign '08, etc. did they actually have to watch 50 hours of "noos"?
  • ok, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ack154 (591432) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:54AM (#22781636)
    How about another study not so close to a presidential-election year? Not that I expect the science/education/etc coverage to increase dramatically in other circumstances, but of course it's going to be a lot of campaign coverage.
  • Why is it so bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evil Pete (73279) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:56AM (#22781642) Homepage

    I know that TV fosters a dumbing down of society and trashing of the image of those in the sciences. But here in Australia we actually had a period of time when science and science reporting was highly regarded. It has slipped a bit lately but the ABC [abc.net.au] still has a Science Week where almost every TV and radio program tries to inject Science into the format. And TripleJ [abc.net.au] still has Dr Karl answering science questions every week (unless he's too busy doing Sleek Geeks [abc.net.au]). Maybe it is the non-existence of a strong equivalent of the ABC or BBC. Because science reporting is popular, just not as popular as other things. What I guess I am trying to say is the current situation wherever you are is not inevitable. Just as the current slide here is not inevitable -- science has given way to the unbelievably boring discussions on 'renovations'. Crap.

  • this is bottom up. if msnbc suddenly reports more on science in more amounts of time your average slashdotter finds acceptable, msnbc's ratings go down. believe me, if they went up, you'd see 20 minutes every hour of the day devoted to science on cnn, msnbc, and even fox

    the real issue here then is that your average joe blow just doesn't care that much about science, not some sort of weird pact by cable news shows to keep everyone stupid

    and to go further than that, many will see failure in society, in politics, because joe blow isn't so interested in things your average slashdotter is. well, that's your vanity speaking, not your intelligence. why is your science-centric viewpoint superior than the viewpoint of joe blow? what is your objective reason for believing that?

    where is the objective measure that says someone massively interested in science would make a better citizen? many people here are certain of that idea, but plenty of people are also prejudiced to their own particular worldview and agenda. that's you i'm speaking to, you who sees little interest in science as a sort of travesty. it's not. it simply isn't. get over yourself

    the truth is, just not that many people are interested in science, were interested science, or ever will be interested in science. in any time period, in any country. get used to it. the world does not revolve around your biases towards a lot of interest in science, so this idea that few people are interested in science is not in any way a bad thing, it's just the way it is, and you would be doing yourself a favor by simply accepting that and moving on, rather than crying into your milk about some sort of travesty that isn't really a travesty at all

    • by sm62704 (957197)
      this is bottom up. if msnbc suddenly reports more on science in more amounts of time your average slashdotter finds acceptable, msnbc's ratings go down.

      No, if they present the news in an uninteresting or nonunderstandable way the ratings go down. Most high school kids hate science class because "science is boring." Well, science isn't boring, their science teacher is boring!

      If you have some ignorant dumbass who hates science because his science teacher put everyone to sleep then yes, ratings will go down. B
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:12AM (#22781730) Homepage
    and you know what that 1 minute is. It's that bloody shampoo advert featuring the latest teen starlet stating: "here comes the science"

    Slashdot, because you're worth it.
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:21AM (#22781784) Journal
    I've seen that one minute per five hours. It sucks. It's usually so dumbed down that even when it's right it's so bad that it might was well be wrong.

    Put science news on the science and other educational channels. Science channel(s), Discovery, History channel(s), National Geographic, NASA channel -- it's not like there's a complete lack of sources. If people want it, they'll go looking. If they can't handle it, they won't watch it and don't need it.

    And don't give me any "the kids" nonsense. If kids need science, they need something better than news channels present. They need education, which means keeping them engaged, which means decent production. They're not prepared for science news yet. They're still in the stage where half hour shows with a few interesting longer stories are better for them. Besides, they don't need everything on TV. There's plenty of sources of science news that they can read. They're supposed to be doing that too.

    • by TheGrumpster (1039342) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:30AM (#22781854) Homepage
      The sad thing is that even many of the science and education channels have now been dumbed down to where they are often of little interest. Remember when TLC was "The Learning Channel" instead of the "Flip This House Channel"? Remember when the History Channel actually discussed history? Now even semi-respectable channels like Geographic are showing crap like "Search for Bigfoot" and "Doomsday Prophecies of the Bible". The networks aren't stupid. They know where their audience is. Why else do you think the channel formerly known as "CNN Headline News" that used to show a nice summary of the major stories in a half-hour is now nothing but four hours of some idiot blabbing about the latest Britney Spears fiasco? I know it's a sign of my old age, but seriously, the only television worth watching is an occasional show like Nova or Frontline on PBS, and sometimes something on CSPAN. As for the rest, it's all trash. The new dark ages indeed.
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *
        > Remember when TLC was "The Learning Channel?
        > Remember when the History Channel actually discussed history?

        Yes it is tied to the dumbing down of everything, but it is also something else. Not sure what the drive is, but look at the cable channels today vs a decade or so back. In the beginning the promise of cable/sat was lots of focused channels catering to niches that broadcast TV couldn't serve. So we had news channels that just did news, music channels that were 24 hours of music, science chan
  • by oDDmON oUT (231200) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:30AM (#22781862)
    And make no mistake about it, viewers are being trained by what, and how, they watch from a very early age. News programming is only one facet of that.

    If you're trained to only accept information in time units no larger than the average bowel movement, the chances that you will think critically about any given subject are reduced immmensely.

    This works especially well for marketers and companies intent on your "consuming" their products, and for those who have the motives of a three card monte dealer.

    Which points up the critical importance of your tax dollars being used to insure everyone has access [doc.gov] to the "glass [images-amazon.com] teat [images-amazon.com]".

    Bread and circuses anyone?
  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:34AM (#22781886) Homepage
    Is related to the whole "man made global warming" hoax.

    Which is junk science at it's worst.
  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:34AM (#22781892)
    That's because if the general public were to even begin to understand the magic concepts of Science, their heads would explode. Small doses like this keep them informed, yet it keeps everything "Scientific" still magical.

    Have you ever tried to explain how something works to someone? I mean, I have to use analogies with elves, envelopes, and a giant series of tubes to explain how the interwebs work! I still end-up with a deer in the headlights stare.
  • If you sit and drink alcohol solidly for five hours, your liver will turn to mush.

    If you sit and watch cable news for five hours, your brain will turn to mush.

    And quite frankly, if you've a mushed brain then scientific concepts are probably the last thing you'll ever be able to assimilate.

    No, you're probably far better off just sat there on you fat backside cramming crisps and canned beer into your mouth while you are mnindlessly forcefed more celebrity gossip and the endless coverage of Paul McCartne

  • some five hours of programming could pass with the average viewer seeing only one minute of science news coverage."

    That would only be bad news if their reporting was factual and accurate, but they can hardly report on anything science-related without making some glaring error that any high school student should know is wrong.

    It makes me wonder about their reporting on other aspects.

    Even worse is the abysmal state of "educational" TV. One reason I dropped cable (besides the annual rate hike gougings) is chan
  • Unfortunately, that one minute of cable science news happens to occur on Fox News, where they present the latest evidence pointing to babies as the source of all terrorism, or the newest findings confirming that the Pyramids were built with the use of dinosaurs.
  • what does this "study" prove? That if only cable networks included more "scientific" coverage in their content Jesus would be happy and the "dumbing down of america" averted for good? Give me a break! Scientists and scientific thinking (aka critical thinking) are not produced by watching a flashy tube like an idiot . It's a derivative of hard intellectual work.

    Next study to follow: Save america from obesity, petition your cable provider for more health/workout related content you can watch while wolfing do
  • by dankstick (788385) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:06AM (#22782196) Homepage
    "We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster."

    -Carl Sagan, 1995 Interview with Anne Kalosh
  • by Anonymous Meoward (665631) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:34AM (#22782450)

    For a minute, I thought it read "one minute of SILENCE for five hours of cable news".

    If only.

  • The divide... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance@nosPAM.level4.org> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:47AM (#22782556) Journal
    between most science and technology is such that we only get a minute amout of the former on /,

    Slashdot is a brilliant news source with brilliant contributers but still...

    I've found myself going to conferences to get my fix...

    Nanotechnology promises to unite chemistry, engineering and biology... Quantum mechanics will re-write physics and philosophy...

    The only hard sciences, that can be practiced without millions of dollars of funding, are mathmatics and information science.
    • by colmore (56499)
      No, Math is expensive too. People haven't done it for free since all mathematicians were wealthy and their names began with "Lord." Also, modern math uses supercomputers to guess at truth before it proves it. We're pretty certain that the R-Z hypotheses is true because it's been tested for trillions and trillions of solutions by pricey computers (and pricey mathematical computer scientists).

      Someone with the chops to be a mathematician can in general do much more profitable things with their time. A high
  • Health stories most nightly on the network news. They lternative between fear stories of new diseases and hopes of new cures.

    And if you add in all the drug commercials, its maybe a third of the newscast :-)

  • Cable news networks are not in business to inform or educate. Cable news networks are in business to make a profit. They show what will get asses in chairs. Any informing or education is purely ancillary.
  • Slashdot seems to cover the market that would care about this.
  • People typically don't watch cable news to learn about the latest scientific and technological advances; it's moving wall paper that they can watch while half distracted. If you really care about being informed beyond USA Today style graphs and the headlines, try a newspaper, magazine or the Internet. With the increasing availability of broadband Internet connections, functional literacy is essentially optional; there are few barriers to "learning" about pop-science or pop-technology. Complaining about the
  • It might be true if you look at proramming times, however those 5 hours are 5 time repeats, so only one hour. Of that one hour, there is 15 minutes of advertisement, 14 minutes of 'coming up', 10 minutes somebody anouncing somebody else or themselves and 20 minutes of self promotion.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

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