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Author Topic:   Media coverage of the evolution controversy
Syamsu 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3632 days)
Posts: 1914
From: amsterdam
Joined: 05-19-2002


Message 16 of 31 (181940)
01-30-2005 9:54 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


I think it's more interesting the way creation vs evolution is handled in movies and novels. My impression is that on the whole Hollywood is on the side of the creationists. Evolution is mostly associated with extreme violence, criminality, meaninglessness, purposelessness, immorality, chaos etc. Creation is associated with God, marriage, family, order, peace, love, purpose etc.

Survival seems to be a more common theme in movies nowadays, which is closely associate to darwinism, which often get's a mention. There seems to be less emotionality / stupidity of characters as before in those kinds of survival movies, when they're faced with lifethreatening danger, which is a shame. The focus is more on clever people how to technically survive, and also on teamwork a lot. See the difference between the Towering Inferno, and a modern survival movie like Deep Impact. In the Towering Inferno it is much exaggerated manly man, and womanly woman, and in Deep Impact it is more about a bunch of nerds really.

It would be fun to have some actual quotes of evolution and creation in movies. I remember the X-men, Fight Club ofhand as talking about evolution, selection. A novel that vaguely talks about evolution vs creation is "survival of the fittest" by Jonathan Kellerman. A threatened boy more or less chooses between religion and science, and chooses science. There's also a short history of eugenics especially as it relates to psychology in that novel.

So if Hollywood at all promotes evolution, it strikes me as unnatural and teachery ("survival of the fittest",Kellerman), or alternative (Fight Club, X-men). But they don't seem to promote evolution as mainstream, or standard. It is of course impossible when you have a book like "the selfish gene",Dawkins widely circulating among creative people, to have evolution theory be associated with anything good in a Hollywood movie.

regards,
Mohammad Nor Syamsu


This message is a reply to:
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Arkansas Banana Boy
Inactive Member


Message 17 of 31 (182196)
02-01-2005 2:37 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


I watched a ABC Nightline show a couple of weeks ago about the Dover, Penn evolution controversey. The story seemed pretty even handed. It seemed to focus on the mean spiritedness of both sides( a creationist schoolboard member asking a science teacher if he had ever been accused of child abuse; the ACLU threating to shut down the school district with a costly lawsuit, etc).

The main weakness to me was that little time was spent on any arguments for or agaist, and precious little science invoked on either account. But all in all it was valuable to see the current spin on the emotions stirred up.

It also seems that we only see such shows or see letters to the editor during the slowest news cycles. I rarely see any evo/creo articles in any format during the months leading up to elections.

As a last point it was mildly amusing to see that rural Pennsylvania has some similar viewpoints as the usual southern historical bastions of creationist thinking.

From near the buckle of the Bible belt

Arkansas Banana Boy


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berberry
Inactive Member


Message 18 of 31 (182200)
02-01-2005 3:01 AM


The most glaring error I see in media coverage is a misunderstanding of the word 'theory'. A law enforcement definition seems to be preferred to a scientific definition, and this error is seldom pointed out.


Keep America Safe AND Free!
  
Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 31 (182297)
02-01-2005 11:00 AM


The most common accusation that I encounter against media portrayal of the issue is that it doesn't present the so-called "scientific arguments" against evolution or for alternative theories such as intelligent design. For example, when National Geographic came out with a feature article last November titled "Was Darwin wrong?", I checked out the forum hosted by the NG website. I repeatedly came across posts from creationist readers who were outraged to find National Geographic to be so heavily biased in support of creationism. A good example is the most recent post (at the time of this writing):

quote:

I am amazed at how quickly this forum got off the topic of "Was Darwin Wrong".

I was disappointed that this article was so biased in its support of Darwinism. It's not just the American populace who have trouble accepting evolutionism. Many evolutionists & former evolutionists are recognizing big problems with the theory - for instance Michael Denton. Evolution is far from being universally accepted by scientists. There was no mention in the article about the question of how life originated in the first place. Science doesn't have a clue, much less a theory. There was also no recognition of the fact that many respected scientists are now leaning toward Intelligent Design.

Even the famous atheist Anthony Flew has concluded that life could not have originated by chance or naturalistic means.


What's apparent, especially to readers who really do know what evolutionary theory is about, is that there isn't any unfairness in the media. Rather, there's just a perceived bias because of the unfortunate ignorance that so many fundamentalist christians/creationists have regarding regarding true scientific opinion on these matters. This is due in large part, no doubt, to the ID propaganda mill.


  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 20 of 31 (182305)
02-01-2005 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by Syamsu
01-30-2005 9:54 PM


It is of course impossible when you have a book like "the selfish gene",Dawkins widely circulating among creative people

Read it yet? just curious.


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Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 31 (182323)
02-01-2005 12:25 PM


This article seems to be broadly relevant to the topic:

Blinded By Science: How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality
http://www.cjr.org/issues/2004/6/mooney-science.asp


  
contracycle
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 31 (183026)
02-04-2005 7:17 AM


There is an idea that modern news reporting contyains a major methodological flaw. And this lies in the doctrine of "balance"; that is, when you present an idea you must also present a contrary idea. Unfortunately, this means thats the weight of evidence for the two ideas appears to be the same - they appear to stand on equal footing, even if they do not.

Christinaity is also possessed of a massive persecution complex, and combined with the above I think you can see a pernicious feedback loop in which the persectuion complex is aggravated by apparent "balance", which appears to validate its position.


  
satrekker
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 31 (183431)
02-06-2005 5:24 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
01-30-2005 9:08 AM


{This post is off-topic and has been used to start a new thread at Evolution is a Religious Issue. Please reply there. --Admin}

"Anyone who doubts this is a religious issue need only spend a little time here watching the less experienced Creationists talk about God and the Bible in threads that are strictly about science."

This is the real crux of the debate. It is a God issue. Evolution requires a staggering amount of faith, moreso than creationism in my opinion, and since God alone, or nobody if you are an atheist, was present "in the beginning," neither side will be able to "scientifically" prove their assertion. It is from this viewpoint that I am contemplating the practicality of participating in these discussions. It really is a God issue.

I imagine that I will be criticized for the following unsupported statements, but please permit me a few cursory observations regarding this site:

1. Horizontal variation within a genotype is quite a different thing than vertical evolution. Genetic mutation leading to increasingly complex processes/organizations is illogical and "unscientific." While being overly simplistic, reading about the assertion that taking 200 steps backward (negative result of a mutation/Devolution) and one step forward (some perceived "beneficial" mutation/evolution) has resulted in intelligent life from a primordial soup is outright comical, except for the fact that it has so many proselytes.

2. When you boil evolution down to its quintessence, all you really have is spontaneous generation standing upon some magical amount of time that is "theorized" to overturn everything that current, repeatable, observable, scientific inquiry tells us - life does not come from non-life, or for that matter something from nothing, which would by definition speak of a First Cause, but I digress.

3. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It's a bit late, so I'm not going to elaborate. A rudimentary understanding of physics, I hope, will render this citation self-evident.

I apologize in advance if this post is a bit off topic and out of place.

Regards,
Bryan

This message has been edited by Admin, 02-06-2005 09:17 AM


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CK
Member (Idle past 2170 days)
Posts: 3221
Joined: 07-04-2004


Message 24 of 31 (183438)
02-06-2005 6:21 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by satrekker
02-06-2005 5:24 AM


The old ones are the best.
This reply is off-topic. A new thread has been begun on this topic at Evolution is a Religious Issue. Please reply there. --Admin

quote:
3. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It's a bit late, so I'm not going to elaborate. A rudimentary understanding of physics, I hope, will render this citation self-evident.

Yes a rudimentary understanding of physics does make that citation self-evident but sadly not in the way I feel that you wanted it to be.

Please tell us what conclusions you have drawn from the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

(handy tip: many creationist sites use a version of the 2nd law that they have made up rather than the real thing.)

This message has been edited by Admin, 02-06-2005 09:21 AM


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gnojek
Inactive Member


Message 25 of 31 (214034)
06-03-2005 8:36 PM


Speaking of EVC in the media, did anyone catch Lou Dobbs a few weeks ago? I did, and now folks are making fun of it.

I never thought of Lou Dobbs as being a creationist, but it sure seemd like he was on their side.

Here's a "transcript."

http://www.re-discovery.org/dobbs_1.html

I was rolling while reading this.


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EZscience
Member (Idle past 3196 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 26 of 31 (214044)
06-03-2005 9:09 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
01-30-2005 9:08 AM


Percey writes:

Science has a much tougher row to hoe than Creationism. To recruit a new Creationist needs only ignorance, while science requires a willingness to work and study for years.

Well said. In essence, you point out that the current challenges to evolutionary theory reflect a greater challenge facing our society (in this case, specifically American society) the challenge of educating our masses. Religion doesn't seem to help much in this regard...


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EZscience
Member (Idle past 3196 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 27 of 31 (214047)
06-03-2005 9:39 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by gnojek
06-03-2005 8:36 PM


Lou Dobbs the un-scientist
I read that entire transcript you posted and was horrified.
It really cast Lou Dobbs in a new light for me.

In direct relation to my post below, what hope do we have for educating the public about science when this is the level of understanding displayed by a supposedly respected journalist?

Things are not looking up...


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berberry
Inactive Member


Message 28 of 31 (214075)
06-04-2005 12:30 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by EZscience
06-03-2005 9:39 PM


Re: Lou Dobbs the un-scientist
I heard about this when it happened. It appeared on several popular blogs. I've never paid a lot of attention to Dobbs, although if you ever watch him at all it's hard to escape the idea that sometimes his thinking can be a bit provincial (look for transcripts of his shows where a major topics was immigration, there've been lots of such shows).

The only cable news show I watch with fair regularity is Keith Olbermann's Countdown. I give MSNBC considerable credit for having that show on the air. Olbermann can be silly at times, but he's the only cable news talking head (at least that I'm aware of) who's been brave enough to openly ridicule creationism.

Speaking of MSNBC, they've been devoting more attention to the evo v creo debate than the other networks. There's a whole section of their website devoted to it (I linked to it a couple weeks ago in the 'Favorite Websites' thread). Here's an interesting article that was added just today. It talks about the struggle some creationist kids go through, since many of them seem to understand the concept of what is and is not science, but who come from families where there is overwhelming pressure to disavow evolution.


Keep America Safe AND Free!
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hitchy
Member (Idle past 3160 days)
Posts: 215
From: Southern Maryland via Pittsburgh
Joined: 01-05-2004


Message 29 of 31 (214657)
06-06-2005 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by gnojek
06-03-2005 8:36 PM


Lou Dobbs--the opportunist
I have watched Lou Dobbs every once and a while and noticed that he is an opportunist based on public opinion poles. Even when he "looks" like he is opposing something, like CAFTA, he is actually following along the lines of public opinion. He is a shill for the ignorant masses. He obviously has no scientific training. I thought, though, that Ruse didn't do much with the short amount of time he had. I think that is one of the problems with this debate in the public media--it is a battle of sound-bites. Try summarizing evolution, natural selection, etc. in a two minute sound bite. Most of these explanations require more info than available in even an hour-long show. All the opposition does is the Rove tactic of distorting a point and then repeating it over and over again as fact. An uncritical, or overly "fair and balanced", media is not doing its job as a watchdog of bad ideas or policy.
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mick
Member (Idle past 3029 days)
Posts: 913
Joined: 02-17-2005


Message 30 of 31 (214687)
06-06-2005 1:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


the BBC
Hi guys,

I just read through some of the posts from American media and was appalled.

I'm sorry to all the Americans here, but you will seethe with jealousy when you see how a real public service broadcaster treats the subject. The BBC "evolution page" is available here

If you check out "the Darwin debate" you will also find that members of the public who posted questions to a panel of experts were quite well informed and asked very interesting questions.

The BBC does a great job and it's one of the things I truly miss when I'm in North America.

Mick

added in edit: I just wanted to point out that the website I cited originated from an entire weekend of primetime TV being devoted to evolutionary biology a few years ago.

added in edit, a second time: it's worth reading the transcript to a TV debate on evolution chaired by a journalist somewhat better skilled than Lou Dobbs, hosted on the BBC site here

This message has been edited by mick, 06-06-2005 01:43 PM

This message has been edited by mick, 06-06-2005 01:51 PM


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