It’s a Wednesday morning and I’m driving to work. It’s no normal Wednesday, but the Wednesday after the 2012 Presidential Election. It’s not my normal route, but my normal Wednesday route since I have to swap vehicles with my wife. In front of me I see a car with a bumper sticker that reads, “I don’t believe the Liberal Media”.
It got me thinking… and we all know how dangerous that can be.
Last night after President Obama was announced as having won, Facebook exploded with commentary. In one status post discussion, all of the “President’s lies” was brought up, which of course I found humorous since the Romney/Ryan campaign set all kinds of records for lying.
Politicians all lie in that they will distort facts to convince you to vote against the other guy. It’s part of the game. But in general, these distortions are somewhat based in fact. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”… Many of the truths we cling to depends on our point of view. This “truth” is what allows politicians to get away with what they do. But the Romney/Ryan ticket told flat out lies and when called out by the “Liberal Media’s **FACT CHECKERS**”, they doubled-down on the lie and turned it into a commercial. There is “My point of view” and there is dishonesty.
Many of the truths we cling to depends on our point of view – Obi-Wan Kinobi
Naturally I had to call out my friend and ask him “What lies?” And he brought back the mystery surrounding the Benghazi Embassy attack and for evidence he provided a URL to an article on The Daily Caller (http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/02/benghazi-cover-up-par-for-the-course-for-team-obama/). I did not recognize the site. It didn’t seem to me a major media outlet like NBC, CNN or the New York Times. The site is owned by Tucker Carlson, one of the more Right Wing pundits who works for Fox News and one of the site’s main contributors is the infamous Ann Coulter who’s views are among the most extreme of the extreme right. I torted back: “How about a source that’s not a right wing opinion blog?“ and of course my friend basically replied that when he found one “worth” reading he would reply.
Is there really a “Liberal Media” or is it people don’t like what they hear and shun it? I work in mass media and have for years and I can tell you those who report the news do their very best to be accurate and sometimes the facts can be “An Inconvenient Truth” as I steal the title from Al Gore’s movie on climate change. That movie could not have been titled better. It’s a truth that many people don’t want to here. It’s easier to say “It’s just the spin” from “the other side” than to re-evaluate what you understand and believe and to accept that you are wrong.
This extends beyond media coverage that is “inconvenient” to your way of thinking. It impacts Science. It’s easy to want to ignore science when it tells us that things are wrong. A good example of this is how the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) reacted to a scientific report on how fast the ocean levels are rising. North Carolina depends a lot on tourist economy from its coastal beaches, which are under a direct threat from sea level increases. What did they do? Instead of reacting to the science by enacting laws to protect coastal communities with more regulations and building codes, they tried to enacte a law telling scientists how they had to provide the data in a way that the data was modified to fit the needs as if these scientists were out to get the tourism business. A variant of the bill passed.
Look at many of the “Red States” that are trying to discount evolution and science in favor of a more religious view at how we were created (and this is a blog post for another day, but the Bible never said **HOW** God created man. Science never tries to answer the **WHO** created man question. Can’t we get along already?)
When we can’t understand something because science is hard or when that science tells us something that we don’t like, it’s easier to shoot the messenger than accept the message and say that the messenger is doing it for some political gain. However, and this is the key understanding that you need to know about scientists… They are motivated to get it **right**. Nothing is worse for a scientist to try and prove something only to be proven wrong. Their motivation is different than most people. They strive for accuracy and the science community is based on findings being analyzed by peers and that analysis being analyzed by other peers.
Not everyone is motivated by money or power. Many, including scientists and journalists, are motivated by the truth. Lets look at a prime example in this election: A young number crunching geek named Nate Silver. He writes a blog for the New York Times (strike one, he works for the Liberal Media!) and he’s into numbers in a big way. During this election cycle, his numbers provided a very inconvenient truth to the Romney/Ryan campaign in that they were going to loose (and badly in the Electoral College). The Right Wing tried hard to dismiss his research and number crunching. But as Bill Clinton simply spelled out in his convention speech. “It’s Arithmetic”.
The religious among you won’t want to hear this because God is infallible, but guess what? Math is infallible. Math is absolute. It is accurate. Of course with some areas of mathematics, in particular Probability and Statistics, there are unknowns involved and people can skew numbers to make the “numbers” say what they want. But when you run into a person like Nate Silver, who has only one agenda… which is “To be right”, you have to look at his numbers and respect them. His numbers were not going to elect President Obama. If anything, they were likely to hurt the President by giving his voters the idea that he’s going to win and they don’t need to vote.
Nate Silver won this election. Not for a Right Wing or a Left Wing. Not for conservatives or for some socialist liberal agenda, but he won being “Right”. He won for the data. He won for Science … and for the Liberal Media.
“Huh? How’s that?” You ask?
Because Nate Silver is about the truth, however inconvenient that may be. Science is about the truth too and so is mass media. CNN wanted their election coverage to be accurate (though to be honest, I don’t want to see the Florida county map again for a long time… Thanks John King!). Reporters want their facts to be accurate. They want let you know the truth.
And truth isn’t a liberal concept… It’s a human concept. You may not like it, but you can’t change it.
Who won this election? The geeks did! Math did!