Sunday, August 12, 2007


Tonight I took a break from editing and decided to watch a little TV. I don't do this often, and I thought it was time for a little change of view. I don't really find TV that interesting, save for the odd science show; for the most part, however, science shows are far too general and flashy for my taste. I want to know why they are saying what they are saying.

While flipping the channels I came across Richard Attenborough's Planet Earth, and of course I watched what was left of it, as the visuals themselves tell you a lot of about the subject matter. After that, I came across another show that, in my opinion, couldn't hope to be called a serious scientific program. It took a look at the phenomena, but tried increasingly to tie such phenomena to impending disaster. The show was about natural disasters: one about hurricanes and one about volcanoes and earthquakes. There was a lot of "scientists are saying", "scientists are urgently trying to piece together", "...are coastal cities living on borrowed time?" - otherwise leading statements that gave the impression that the science supported the view that we are on the edge of impending doom. In fact, none of the interview segments connected to the narration in any obvious way.

Watching the program about hurricanes, it is easy why some people feel often that global warming is simply alarmist hype. Many of the expositions of the subject that you find on TV, or even in some books, don't seem like they are out to convince anyone but are instead out to scare. And it is easy to see why all the misinformation spreads as easily as it does, and why it often targets the more alarmist claims: not only is it easier to refute such alarmism, but it is also easy to dismiss it if its supporting science isn't made easily accessable. "They are alarmists with no basis" cry some (while neglecting the fact that they haven't looked hard enough). The one question I have is: why aren't many people rational enough to see that they are sitting in a field with a straw man?