How The News Makes Us Stupid

There is just a lot of ingrained boneheadeness built into the way we get our information today. Two examples from casual info-snacking this morning:

1. Obama, for the 234th time, declares that “Drilling offshore will not do a thing to help with gas prices today.” To which the thinking person can only say, “Duh. Of course not.” Talk about a straw-man debating tactic–as if anyone has said that starting new drilling today, Wednesday July 16, will bring new oil gushing in by the weekend. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the vegetative state, just how dumb and uninformed does he think voters are? Apparently a 9. My recent take on our energy dilemma, and our range of unpleasant choices, is here.

2. A reporter on National Public Radio, which you’d like to think serves a fairly well-educated audience, wraps up a report on McCain and Obama’s foreign policy plans with this comment about the dangerous border areas of Pakistan, a haven for Taliban fighters and the  possible site of Obama’s Cave.

“Both candidates have said they would do something about Pakistan,” the reporter chirped. “But neither one has said just what they would do.”

Well, it’s certainly possible that neither candidate knows exactly what he would do about this trouble spot. It’s almost certain that neither candidate currently has access to all the secret intelligence we have about that area–or at least we hope we have, though given our intelligence screwups over the past few years, we may have zippola. And, finally, the reporter may not know that in this interconnected world, it’s not a good idea to blab about your military plans to blast the bad guys, because if NPR listeners know those plans, so do the evildoers.

And so it goes.


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