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The Media Science

One Minute of Science Per Five Hours of Cable News 184

ideonexus writes "The Pew group has released its annual study into the state of news media. They conclude that science and technology content is a rare treat for cable newscast viewers; some five hours of programming could pass with the average viewer seeing only one minute of science news coverage."
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One Minute of Science Per Five Hours of Cable News

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:30AM (#22781550)
    People don't give a flip about things like science and engineering. Partially because they don't see how they're attached to their daily lives and partially because it's just not entertaining or diverting. Who of the unwashed masses wants to think when watching TV? I'd rather see a few shows that are done well on a cable channel than the dumbed-down stuff that's attempting to be popular. However, I'm unwilling to pay tens or hundreds of $CURRENCY a year to get such stuff, so I'll stick to books.

    Before you flame my ass, I'll mention I've been whacking away at chemistry/computer software for years and years. And I really like a good science show (like an old NOVA) - but when it makes you think, it's just not what they want.
  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @07:52AM (#22781632)
    This "state" of the news media isn't bad. Life itself for most people has very little science going on in the foreground. Just because we slashdotters wallow in science and technology all day long at work doesn't mean we should be cramming it down people's throats during news broadcasts.
  • 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.

  • Re:Slashdot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @08:44AM (#22781974) Homepage
    I personally watch a lot more drama and comedy than science myself. Does that mean I don't get enough science in my life? Well, not really, I get most of my science exposure from the internet. By the time they produce a show on it, it's already old news. I find that reading stuff online is a far better way to get my daily intake of science.
  • Re:Slashdot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @09:18AM (#22782320) Homepage
    The history buffs have it better.

    I don't think so... Just yesterday I was watching a show on Noah's Ark. And later a show on the "Real" Jesus!

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

    by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 ) <deliverance@leve[ ]org ['l4.' in gap]> 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 SpecTheIntro ( 951219 ) <spectheintro @ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @10:08AM (#22782776)

    There are religious people who are sensible and considered, and there are scientists with strong biases. But science as a system promotes the biases being noticed and removed from the understanding of a subject, whereas religions in general do not promote that kind of understanding - a few individual religious thinkers have shown good sense ( Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo come to mind - but their philosophies were derived from Platonic thought) but most end up integrating dumb ideas in to what usually starts as a decent religion and turn it in to a self-contradictory mess.

    You are assuming that religion does not promote the exercise of reason and free will, when in fact this is patently untrue. Nearly all of the greatest scientists in history, prior to the modern era when we decided religion was for "teh craziez," were deeply religious men, and in fact their religion was a bulwark in how they approached science. The early Christian thinkers (I'm talking early, as in 2-300 A.D.) consistently stressed the necessity of exercising reason in faith. Early Islamic thinkers operated the same way, believing that the gift of free will and reason were not only blessings from the Creator but obligations to humanity in their exercise. (Although the Islamic question of free will is a very nuanced one, and honestly a bit confusing--this coming from an Iranian Muslim, mind you.) There is, nowadays, an overriding sentiment that because a.) religious institutions were corrupted and b.) people are generally stupid, that somehow this means religion promotes closed-mindedness. But any actual study of scripture and theology will often quite clearly paint a different picture. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are not theologians. Neither is Ahmadinejad, for that matter, and even Khameini, fundamentalist as he is, is remarkably pro-science. (Again, a consequence of following the doctrines of his religion. His sin is that he interprets as narrowly as he can when it comes to the social order.)

    It annoys me to no end that the world is becoming both anti-religious and anti-intellectual. And the longer we go, the more "religious" science becomes, with any dissidents in the community ostracized because of their beliefs, rather than their evidence. This movement towards "consensus" in scientific thought is absolutely horrifying: I don't give a shit if one hundred million scientists "agree" that it looks like x is happening; consensus is the antithesis of good science. Either the studies support you, or they don't--and the methodology of those studies should be attacked with such virulence that there can be no doubt remaining that they are valid. Instead, we have a cartel of scientific bodies that exists solely to insulate its members from real scrutiny, and react with the vehemence of the Inquisition if anyone dares to question the results they provide. It's disgusting.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2008 @11:09AM (#22783446)
    Lots of historical places and events reported in the bible are true.

    Some of them are versions of older true stories found in older religions and stories in the region.
    Some of them are unprovable and indistinguishable from madness.

    There is lots of good advice and the christian religion helped it's followers survive and prosper rather than die out so it is overall beneficial to its followers.

    However, some things appear very unlikely. It is very unlikely that the entire earth really was flooded underwater and the entire human genome was concentrated through one family within the last 10,000 years.

    And it is true that, to this day, a lot of religious people are rabidly anti-science to the point that it is hurting us relative to other societies around the world now. We were very pro-science in the 20s to the 60's and then somehow got off the path and have been losing our edge ever since.

    It is also true that some religious people (in power) are complete wack jobs like James Watt (sec interior) who said it was okay to sell of our national parks because the end times were near. (never mind that as a religious person he should have been husbanding the earth- not strip mining and clearing it).

    There are crazy people in science and in religion. However, science requires that other people be able to reproduce your results independently. So it corrects bias's and errors over time. Religious truth is more often based on who is the most charismatic, who breeds most prolifically, or who is the most murderous. A religion that increases followers is more true while one that loses followers is less true.

  • 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

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