Tag Archives: debate

Media Bias Is Not What You Think

Often the mainstream media is accused of being biased. This accusation normally comes from conservatives.  Of course bias depends somewhat on your point of view. We talk in terms of left or right. That assumes some center and a person’s, or groups views are either left or right of center. In truth we are each biased as to where the center is, or should be. We tend to see left or right in relation to our own position or the position of the people with which we surround ourselves. If most people around us have a particular viewpoint we see that as the norm but it could be way to one side or the other.

So is the media biased? One report looked at the political affiliations of the journalist. The results show that Democrat journalists consistently outnumber Republicans.

From the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/05/06/just-7-percent-of-journalists-are-republicans-thats-far-less-than-even-a-decade-ago/

political-affiliation
Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

That would lead us to conclude that there is a significant Democrat bias among reporters. Other research tends to support this conclusion also. If you watch the news attentively you can see the bias. Some is very obvious others are much more subtle but the bias is always there.  By the way, don’t be deceived about the designation of “Independent”. People, especially reporters, like to think of themselves as neutral and objective, but just because a person calls himself or herself independent does not mean they are neutral or objective.  When interviewed about their particular views and voting habits they nearly always fall squarely into a Republican or Democrat stance.

When it comes to politics and social issues we are taught to think in terms of Republican or Democrat, left or right, Conservative or Liberal. The media is thinking about something totally different. There is something that matters much more than who becomes President. What matters most is ratings, viewership and advertizing sales.

The media has many biases but the most important is creating a story that will make people tune in.  Notice how this has played out in this election cycle so far.  There were a dozen or so candidates for the Republican nomination but which one could they make out to be the most “controversial”, who would give them the greatest number of provocative sound bites. The obvious choice was Donald Trump and Trump knew it. If he could keep feeding them material then he would get free coverage on the news. From my estimation Trump got three times as much media coverage as all the other candidates combined.

Was any of it about real issues? Not really, it was about off handed remarks blown out of proportion to create some new “controversy”.  It was never about substance.

As we got to the Republican convention, Trump clearly had the nominations, but the media created a hype that somehow Cruz would try to pull a coop. Of course it made for a good story, and people tuned in to see what would happen but it was all media hype. Then there was the big “controversy” as to whether or not Cruz would endorse Trump.

If the primary media bias was about liberal of conservative polices then that would have been the content of the reporting, but it never is. It is always about superficial hype.

The same was true of the Democratic campaign. The Democratic leadership always wanted Hillary. It was always assumed that she would win the nomination. They have been working toward this sense Bill was President. Bernie Sanders was too extreme and never had a chance, but that does not make for a good news story. So Bernie became a big news story. They reported on his dedicated and energized youthful followers. They created a “real” threat to Hillary’s candidacy. Even at the Democratic Convention the media created a story. ‘Will Bernie endorse Hillary?’ ‘Will his supporters back her?’ The drama continues on the convention floor. Viewers stay tuned to see what will happen and the advertizing dollars keep rolling in.

Everyone thinks that in a presidential election either the Republicans or the Democrats win. The real winner is the media. Each party raised hundreds of millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter who wins the media gets it all. The more “controversy” they can create the more viewers they have; the more viewers the higher the cost for advertizing.  The media loves “Raciest” Trump and “Crooked” Hillary. Keep the scandals rolling in and the money will roll in right behind it.

Trump will say he hates the media and how biased they are. The media loves it and Trump loves the coverage it gets him. Trump challenges the media to show the record breaking turnout to his rallies and the pathetically poor turnout to the Hillary rallies. The media never shows the crowds. Trump says it is because they are biased toward Hillary. That may be true but mostly they are biased toward creating the appearance of a close race. As long as the race is close the viewing audience will stay energized.  If it looks like slam-dunk for Trump then the race is over and no one will watch.

For sure the media is bias. For sure they lean to the left. But the biggest bias is not what you think. They are biased toward themselves. They are biased towards controversy and the all mighty dollar. Who will win the race? The media will.

Bill Nye, Ken Ham Debate

Creation / Evolution Debate

A few days ago I watched a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

Bill Nye is famous as the host of Bill Nye the Science Guy, Ken Ham is the director of The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The debate between these two didn’t begin at the Creation Museum. It started when Bill Nye made a U-tube video under the Big Think label. Ken Ham later responded with his own U-tube video. The exchange continued until it culminated in a challenge to a formal debate.

My interest in the debate was not so much about learning something new; I am familiar with most of the arguments on both sides. My real interest was in critiquing the arguments and point out the fallacies on both sides. I am happy to say that the debate was pretty straight forward and kept to the main points without slipping into false arguments and name calling.

I have decided not to go into the specifics of the debate, which would be too tedious. You can watch the debate for yourself online. I am sure there are plenty of people commenting on the arguments and who won and who lost. Instead I will comment on the original comments that led to the debate and why we debate these things at all.

Behind this debate is Bill Nye’s stance that Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design are not scientific theories and should not be taught in schools. He takes it even further to say that to teach such things undermines science as a whole and would slow down, stop or even reverse America’s progress as a world leader.

I would like to pose another question.

Why do we teach the origin of the universe, the world, and man in schools at all?

In third grade we spent a great deal of time teaching about dinosaurs, making papier-mâché models and dioramas. If we really care about America’s future wouldn’t that time be better spent teaching the students to read at grade level, or studying the biology of animals living today. Of what practical value is studying dinosaurs? Rather than studying the evolution of man, why don’t we spend the time teaching the anatomy of man? Students in America can name more extinct plants and animals than they can live ones. They know about “millions of years” of rock formations in the Grand Canyon but they have no understanding of the chemistry of concrete or ceramics that they encounter every day. They know about trilobites but don’t know how to treat an insect bite. Maybe the reason we are falling behind the rest of the world in math and science isn’t that we are not teaching enough evolution, maybe it is because we are wasting our time teach evolution rather than real, practical science.

Back to the question, why do we teach origins at all? It seems that it has almost no practical value. In fact it appears to me that it is a total waste of time. So why are people so adamant that evolution be taught or creation be taught? Ken Ham is right is his analysis to this question. The reason that we teach creation or evolution is that they each reinforce a world view. And that world view is the filter through which all other learning takes place.

Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design reinforce the idea that there is a creator God. There is meaning and purpose to our existence; we are not just a complex set of chemical reactions. There is a God who created us and we are responsible to Him. If we are to understand creation then we must understand the creator. The convers is also true we can enter into a better understanding of God by understanding His creation and what it teaches us about Him. Stated differently, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Following closely on creation is the fall of man. Man is a fallen and sinful creature desperately in need of a savior. Without God and the work of Jesus we are utterly lost.

Evolution reinforces the principles of humanism and naturalism. The universe has come into being through natural means. There is no evidence of a creator, there is no need for a creator as an explanation of anything that we know. Everything that we know and can know is found through what we can observe in the natural universe. There is no spiritual realm at all. Based on the laws of evolution everything is improving and moving toward levels of higher complexity. Mankind is the pinnacle of evolution; we are at the top and we are responsible only to ourselves. God is non-existent or irrelevant. In the words of the humanist, “Man is the measure of all things”.

So that is it in a nutshell. The only reason to teach origins is to establish a world view. The Christian wants to teach creation to establish a Christian World View, where we are responsible to God. The Evolutionist wants to teach evolution, where we are only responsible to ourselves.

What do you think? Should we teach Creation, should we teach Evolution or should we just stop teaching origins at all and let the students bring their own world view into the classroom?

Leave God Out of It

Recently the Supreme Court heard arguments about same-sex marriage. The public discussion among Christians and non-Christians said something like this. ‘We live in a secular world and the courts in America don’t make rulings based on religious principle, not everyone believes in God, therefore we must leave God and the Bible out of the debate.’
This has become a theme in America, “Leave God out of it”. At first it sounds reasonable. I mean in order to participate in a debate the individuals must have some agreement as to what is accepted as facts and what is not. Otherwise you simply get individuals asserting that something is true and the other denies it. You get an argument but not a debate that can come to reasonable conclusions and acted upon.
The problem here is TRUTH. Somehow we forget that the goal is truth not opinion or what we would like the truth to be. Once I was an alternate on a jury. Every once in a while the prosecuting attorney would allude to something about the defendant. The judge would immediately stop him and say that it was not permissible evidence. After a while it was evident that the attorney felt that it was important information that would sway the jury toward a conviction. It was also evident that the judge was irritated with the prosecutor. As a juror I felt that there was something very wrong with the situation. I felt that there was some element of truth out there that I was not allowed to hear. Someone had decided for me what information I could consider or not, and it was clear that the reason was because it would bear on my decision. I felt insulted that someone had decided for me because they didn’t trust my judgment, and yet I was to decide the fate of this man without all of the information. The responsibility rested on me but certain pieces of information were deemed as inadmissible. I could make a wrong decision that endangered people’s lives. It didn’t seem fair to me. If I am responsible for the decision then I should be able to decide what information is pertinent.
When it comes to legal or public debate about issues, we say ‘leave God out of it’, as if He doesn’t exist or is unimportant. The reason given is that not all people believe in God. That is odd. Well over 80% of Americans say they believe in God. So statistically less that 20% of the people are dictating the terms of the debate. The word atheist means “without god”. Why is it that in a nation that is mostly theist we discuss issues as atheists? Why is it that in a democracy we let the minority dictate to the majority?
If God doesn’t exist then maybe He should not be part of the discussion. But He does exist and to pretend that He doesn’t is to live in a fantasy world. That doesn’t sound right does it? We are so used to the atheists telling the believers that they live in a fantasy world, it now sounds strange to be telling the atheists that they are living in a fantasy world. If God exists, and most Americans say He does, then to live as if He doesn’t exist is to live in a fantasy.
But people do live as if God exists, even atheist do. You see if God doesn’t exist the alternative is a naturalistic world view. Each person is a product of biology. They are built on a chemical formula determined by their DNA. Environment adds in some additional variable to complicate the matter. The bottom line is we are just a complex series of chemicals interacting with the environment. The environment itself is just a complex series of chemicals interacting within a seemingly endless chain of variables. All that appears to be thought is just chemical reactions in our brains. There is no mind. There is no free will. We don’t make decisions. Chemical reactions happen that appear to us to be free and independent thought. Our whole idea of right and wrong is an illusion; possibly evolutionary tools developed over eons to sustain the survival of the species. Actually even that language doesn’t work, because words like “tools”, “developed” and “survival” imply intentionality, purpose and meaning. In a naturalistic world none of those exist. Things just are. Thought, meaning, purpose, right and wrong, even personhood are all illusions—pure fantasy.
If there is no God then there is no right or wrong. The whole idea of having a discussion is irrelevant. What is the point of debating something if there is no independent thought? What is the point of trying to reach the right conclusion if there is not right or wrong?
Very strange! The whole idea of having a debate is dependent on a belief in right and wrong. It rests on our ability to think independently and to make value judgments. Both of these cannot happen in a naturalistic world. They only exist in a world where God exists, and yet we say that God is not relevant to the debate. Very strange indeed and totally incongruent! If debate exists then God exists. If God doesn’t exist then real debate does not exist. We appear to actively “participate” in independent thought, reasoning, discussion, debate, and decision making, but it is all an illusion, just a fantasy. If debate exists and God exists then God must be taken into account.
Next time someone tells you to “Leave God out of it.” Think about how ridiculous that statement really is. Then have yourself a good laugh or maybe you should cry for a world that has lost their mind.