Scientific ignorance: Partially the fault of us journalists

Though I’d also blame the English department for foisting postmodernist crap on us:

Something has happened with the last generation of journalists, who have been taught the postmodern idea that there is no such thing as objective reality. But there is such a thing as objective reality – and we can measure it, and by measuring it we’ve doubled our lifespan, multiplied the productivity of our farms by 35 times, and totally changed the world. By not acknowledging that, reporters end up creating something called, “false balance,” essentially reporting on two sides of a story and letting the audience decide what they think is the objective truth or who is right. That’s really shirking their responsibility to dig and inform people what’s really going on.

via How Ignorance, Greed and Ideology Are Warping Science and Hurting Democracy | Julian Brookes | Rolling Stone.

Rules for Scooby-Doo

Direct-to-DVD/Cartoon Network films, yet another series … the Scooby Doo folks are busy these days.

But they’re often forgetting two important rules:

1. No romance. The Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. series is horrendous. It lacks the whimsy of the terrific What’s New, Scooby-Doo? series from the mid-2000s and the films of the same era. The animation is full of shadows, aiming for a “darker” feel but really making the show a chore to watch. 

But the worst aspect of Mystery Inc.: It’s a soap opera. Velma loves Shaggy, who isn’t all that interested. Scooby gets jealous and doesn’t like Velma any more. Velma backs off. Shaggy starts to miss the attention. Something is up with Fred and Daphne. Sue Ellen isn’t welcome at Southfork Ranch because J.R. is trying to protect Ewing Oil from Cliff Barnes. 

Did anyone need to see all that?

2. No actual supernatural stuff. The traditional Scooby-Doo reveal: The “monster” is unmasked as Prof. Sniffington or some other ancillary character. Velma finally shares all the information she’s been hoarding for the whole episode to explain how the whole thing was done with elaborate costumes, electronics and so forth. Sometimes, it’s ridiculous — Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? includes Velma’s implausible explanation that she created a swarm of locusts to do her bidding because she learned to breed them in science class. But that’s part of the charm. Actual zombies? Not so much.

3. Jokes and music? Good. Where’s My Mummy? and some of the other direct-to-video films in heavy rotation on Cartoon Network have preposterous plots. But they’re funny, and they usually have good pop/rock tunes. Some of the newer films keep the jokes but borrow their music from scarier films.

Scooby-Doo is supposed to be escapist fun. Not &*^*&#$ing Twilight.

Cracked’s logical fallacies and why we argue

Cue Palin (not that one) and Cleese:

An argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

It is NOT!

It is!

Not at all!

As a philosophy major who basically stunk at philosophy classes other than logic, I’ve often wanted to round up common fallacies and ridiculous argument tactics that have proliferated in the Web/Twitter/Facebook era. Cracked.com, the startlingly intellectual offspring of a magazine that long was to Mad magazine what Mad TV was to Saturday Night Live, compiled such a list:

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think | Cracked.com.

Naturally, it’s imperfect.

For one thing, fallacies are usually mistakes in logic. Most of the five “fallacies” listed here simply tell us why human beings are incapable of admitting they’re wrong. That may explain why they take a giant misguided leap in logic, but it doesn’t describe the leap in logic itself.

That’s nit-picky, though. The bigger problem is that it’s horribly cynical.

Yes, it’s still somewhat accurate. But the optimists among us have to think it’s too generalized. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be optimists, would we? (There! Refute that argument!)

And it’s also too relativist. We don’t all share the same predilection toward intellectual dishonesty. Some people are truly open-minded and willing to concede a bit of ground. Some people have made peace with the idea that lying is a good way to further their political aims.

It’s still a great read. It’s a reminder of traits that most of us share at least to some extent. And we need to fight them within ourselves. They’re really difficult to beat out of others.