Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Teach the Controversy

When one is seeking to mock Americans, one of the first things that comes to mind is the irrational zeal with which too many of them try to protect their interpretation of a bronze age work of fiction against the peril of reality (in the form of evolution). One of the famous ways in which these zealots go to promote their agenda is their ongoing campaign to teach "intelligent design" in the science classroom along with evolution under the guise of "teaching the controversy". Of course, they neglect to mention the weakness of their argument, in the sense that there’s no controversy at all.
Lately, it seems, Australia is starting to learn the bad things from the USA. We seem to be having our own versions of teaching the controversy, with announcements made last week that people high up on the ABC’s food chain have ordered to give equal representation to both sides of the climate change debate.
Which side do they mean? I can only see one side. Oh, are they referring to the rabble that likes to make arguments but has no evidence to support their claim, the side that likes to twist the facts and often resorts to pure lies? Should they be given any air time?
If that is the case then why are we to limit the covering of both sides of the controversy to climate change alone? We could start with the weather forecast, for example. Immediately after the weather man gives us the Weather Bureau’s forecast for tomorrow we can have some hand picked morons off the ABC management give us their views on tomorrows weather. And since we need to make sure everyone is represented we can have one of those lunatic doom sayers come in to tell us there is not going to be a tomorrow anyway so why bother with the weather.
Of all TV stations, the ABC – being non commercial – should be the first to realize not all claims and not all opinions are equal. Some are supported by evidence and some are not; just as you won’t give air time to someone claiming the earth is flat, you should not give air time to greedy bastards saying there’s no such thing as man made climate change. Until, that is, they can come up with reputable proof; I would advise us all not to hold our breath, though.

As things are, it is obvious the ABC only bothers covering “both sides of the controversy” even when there is just one clear side on some very select issues alone. Sadly, these seem to be issues relating directly to science and religious belief; it is only in areas where people’s irrational faiths may be offended that the ABC goes out of its way to teach both sides of the controversy. One of these examples was climate change, as discussed above; the other is the way the ABC covered the Global Atheist Convention taking place in Melbourne during the last weekend.
Melbourne’s weekend news on the ABC covered the convention, as it should, with a relatively long item (newsworthy items are hard to come by on a weekend). The item showed Richard Dawkins, as expected, and some atheists saying a few sentences here and there. But then the item took a turn and went off to St Paul’s Cathedral, an Anglican church in Melbourne, to talk to some Sunday worshippers and their opinion of the atheists’ convention as well as talk to the head of the Anglican church in Melbourne. The church bit consisted a significant proportion of the news item's length, pretty incredible given where the real news item was in the first place!
And what did the church goers have to say? Nothing different to the usual propaganda you get from those advocating the teaching of “both sides of the controversy”. They had one moron claiming atheism is the next golden calf (and comfortably forgetting the majority of the world's population would say the same about Christianity). For the record, I’m allowing myself to say the guy’s a moron because on my daily commute to the train station I’ve spotted him many times outside the church shouting out Jesus’ virtues and handing leaflets damning people to an eternity in hell if they fail to put their faith in Jesus. For all intents and purposes, the guy's a terrorist: he doesn't explode, but he does do his best to terrorize innocent people.
Not that the head of the Anglican church was any better in his arguments. Essentially, he said that a movement based on being anti something cannot get anywhere, failing to notice the silliness of his argument: First, no one would raise such an argument against a movement that is against road tolls, so being against something is not necessarily bad. Second, and more importantly, between Dawkins and the rest of the conventioneers everyone agrees that atheists are pro rational thinking; so stop being a moron and stop spinning your web of lies.

I can understand why the Anglican dude is saying what he’s saying. There is a reason why he and his bed mates want to delegitimize atheism: He’s afraid. So afraid his church went out and published "The Case for God", a collection of silly articles full of wishy-washy arguments that stand to nothing. And they did so solely to counter the convention.
They’re all afraid.
Check out The Age’s coverage of the convention. The Age is Melbourne’s second biggest daily distributed publication and the number one when excludes trash, yet it handed over the task of covering the atheist convention to its religious editor, Barney Zwartz.
The result is similar to what we have seen from The Age four years ago, when it was handed the task of covering the Australian team at the Football World Cup in Germany: reporters who generally make their living covering Aussie Rules football produced some feeble results, treating football like an infected rat. A rat that could jeopardize the world they live in.
Same for Zwartz, only that in the case of the latter he doesn’t even need to hide his contempt for atheism. He had been criticizing the very idea of the convention long before it took place, and now that it did he continued in the name of giving each side their share of the limelight. Even when the topic at hand is an atheist convention, he went on to prove again and again how hard it is for him to remain neutral.

What can rational people do in the face of such hostile media coverage? I say, give them a taste of their own medicine. Till they choke on it.
We need to educate people to realizing religion is no sacred cow. We need to make people realize everything should be questioned, religion included, instead of cowering under some politically correct agenda that forbids us from touching religion.
We need more of these conventions.

1 comment:

Moshe Reuveni said...

Interestingly enough, a day after this post was published PZ Myers came up with a very similar post here:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/03/bad_bad_media.php

Also interesting, and further proof to my claim that the atheists have received ill coverage by the biased media, is provided by the following post:
http://www.youngausskeptics.com/2010/03/nazis-earthworms-and-dodgy-journalism/
The issue at hand was Richard Dawkins calling the pope a Nazi; as the video shows, and in total contrast to all the news coverage, Dawkins was referring to pope Pius who was the pope during World War 2 and who is now up from sainthood.

If you can't trust the press, who can you turn to in order to ensure you have solid views of the world's latest developments?