Sunday, November 12, 2006

Myths in the Media and in Public Thought

Did you know almost everything you know is wrong? So says 20/20 consumer advocate John Stossel in his new book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. And he has a good point with a strong case.

I have been flabbergasted how so much of what the media reports and how they frame debates is distorted and misrepresented. Headlines announce news and without reading the whole article or digging deeper into facts, you walk away with a distorted view. Or, the bias of the media outlet slants the issue the way they want. The result is many of us are duped. Stossel exposes this phenomenon with his fact-finding investigative approach. Here are some samples of his findings:

Myth: DDT is dangerous to the environment. Truth: DDT saves lives.
I've been telling this story that DDT is way overhyped as a killer. It's only dangerous at very high levels and when public policy banned it years ago, it proved devastating for Africans. If the US funded DDT spraying, we could prevent the spread of malaria, but we don't and millions die.

Myth: Gas prices are going through the roof. Truth: Gasoline is a bargain.
When adjusted for inflation, we still pay little for gas. In fact, factoring inflation, gas today is 69 cents cheaper than 1981!

Myth: Outsourcing takes American jobs. Truth: Outsourcing creates American jobs.
Outsourcing helps the poor in the developing world and lowers prices and helps us consumers. Lower prices means we have more money to spend. Outsourcing also enables businesses to expand operations and create new and better jobs for Americans.

Myth: Republicans shrink government. Truth: Republicans say they will, but don't

Myth: Government helps the needy. Truth: Government hurts the needy by vomiting the public's money everywhere.

Myth: Politicians (e.g. President and Congress) run America. Truth: The people run America.

Myth: Public schools are underfunded. Truth: They have lots of money.

Myth: Business rip us off. Truth: Most don't.

Myth: Experts can cure homosexuality. Truth: Experts delude themselves.
(My thinking on this one has changed and I agree with Stossel - see Mel White).

Myth: (a) Global warming is happening because of fossil-fuel burning and (b) signing the Kyoto Treaty would stop it. Truth: (a) Maybe and (b) Hardly.
The evidence points that it doesn't. See Canadian scientists statement. Kyoto would hurt the poor.

Myth: Polygamy is cruel to women. Truth: The women aren't complaining.

Myth: John Stossel is a conservative. Truth: John Stossel is a libertarian.

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