Jan. 14th, 2012

realthog: (Default)
A story that was briefly big in the rightish media last August was the NASA study which said that aliens, seeing our burgeoning greenhouse gases, might recognize us as a technological threat and mount a pre-emptive attack. Outfits like FOX News and Forbes leapt in with both feet, fulminating along the lines of "those wacky scientists" and "why are our taxpayer dollars being spent on garbage like this?"

Had they thought about it for more than a split nanosecond or so, they might have wondered if it could really be true that NASA had issued such a study, and done some checking.


It was a fun study written by a bunch of scientists and bloggers to amuse their friends. One of the scientists, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, happens to be a postdoc at NASA. That's the extent of the NASA involvement.

It took FOX almost a full day to register the disclaimers being issued from all quarters, not least from NASA and the source of the original misleadingly subedited article itself, the Guardian.

This might all hardly be worth recalling -- after all, a story that FOX News and the other rightish "news" sources got something completely wrong falls into the "Dog Bites Man" category of headline -- except that, during the course of that day, FOX anchor Megyn Kelly, one of those FOX pundits you reckon is probably still learning how to read a wristwatch, put a three-question poll up on her blog. The responses to the three questions, as posted on FoxNews.com (and reproduced lovingly by Media Matters), were:

Suggest NASA find better ways to spend taxpayer money: 88%
Immediately increase efforts to curb greenhouse gases: 0.74%
Develop weapons to kill aliens FIRST: 11.26%

The adroit mathematicians among us will immediately recognize that the final figure is over 15 times greater than the one in the line before it.

Now, obviously it wouldn't be quite fair to say that 15 times more FOX News viewers are worried about alien invasion than about climate change, but it gives us at least some glimmering of an indication of the extent to which FOX News has misled its audience on the subject of climate change: clearly, to these viewers, climate change belongs, as it were, in the land of the fairies.

There is, of course, a certain degree of schadenfreude to be derived from the fact that FOX News viewers cluster disproportionately in those parts of the US that are likely to get hit hardest in the next decade or two, but that's unfair on their poor, benighted children, whose fault this is obviously not. Also, of course, people will be suffering all over the world, and some of them far worse, because of these bozoes.

March 2013

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