Brain Drain

Brain Questions

Ah yes, the evil, evil mainstream media…how dare they wreck our lives by filling us with unfounded fears of climate change?

Wait…exactly what is the mainstream media, and why do they want to lie about climate?

Says here that the mainstream media are the media distributed by the largest channels, and therefore most likely to reach the largest number of media consumers. I’m not sure how one consumes media (Eating a newspaper?) but apparently a lot of people do, and that’s raised concerns among liberals and conservatives alike that the tide of public opinion could be unfairly affected if too many media outlets are run by too few people with a too-similar set of core beliefs. If you ask who’s running this Big Brotherish behemoth, the liberals will tell you it’s the conservatives, and the conservatives will blame the liberals. In other words, they both say that the mainstream media is not controlled by their own side. It’s nice to see them agreeing on something.

Does the mainstream media lie? Well, that’s sort of like asking if sharks eat people. Some sharks eat people, but it’s not fair to think that any given shark is a man-eater unless you have strong evidence to that end. Similarly, it seems cynical to develop a knee-jerk distrust of every mainstream outlet just because some of them have a long dark history of ethically questionable decisions and sloppy reporting.

But let’s get to the meat of this issue: climate change. If I distrust the mainstream media outlets on issues like politics, economics, and wars, must I also disbelieve the mainstream accounting of climate change? Well, as it turns out, the mainstream media are not my only source of information regarding this most important issue.

See, the scientific community has independently established the reality of climate change. It’s happening, people. Science-based websites like RealClimate make this abundantly clear, for anybody who cares to look. If mainstream media’s story on climate change mirrors that of climate scientists, then yes, I trust mainstream media as far as climate science is concerned. If mainstream media’s perspective on climate change does not mesh with that of actual scientists, then I distrust mainstream media. It’s really that simple.

Now some climate deniers will no doubt say that the climate scientists are bought and paid for by evil liberals who want to tax corporations into the ground, all under the guise of protecting the planet. In this paranoid delusion, mainstream media is simply the megaphone through which the liberal elite broadcast their lies. Of course there’s no merit to this fantasy. Skeptical Science explains succinctly how consensus is built in the scientific community, and how improbable it would be for a small cadre of paid-off scientists to swing the tide of scientific opinion. Any way you slice it, the verdict is in: climate change is real, people are causing it, and the mainstream media doesn’t enter into it (insert obligatory joke about blowing hot air). Regardless of whatever other lies mainstream media tells, their position on global climate change should be evaluated only in light of the available science.

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