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March 30, 2011


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Bob Kerns

OK, CBS is just getting ridiculous.

They now have a photogallery titled Radiation sickness: 8 terrifying symptoms, clearly intended to terrify people.

It's highly doubtful that any of the photographed people actually suffer from radiation exposure (except technically for the guy with the sunburn, which appears to be due to poor application of sunblock, and is not in a pattern you'd expect from radiation burns).

The photos are all credited to istockphoto -- no actual photojournalists were employed in the making of this feature.

Hal Horvath

Both media and no doubt many popular blogs had a field day distorting and sensationalizing. While the NYTimes picked up speed and got better as it went along, one semi-popular econ blog (Naked Capitalism) I had read and commented at for years (since 2008) went for speculative, sensation stuff, and finally into a fully paranoid style in the sense of Hofstadter I think (I've just started reading that old book).

I don't mind saying I was banned (the first and only time in more than 10 years of commenting on dozens of sites, and I often make many comments in one thread). Putatively, I was banned for making more than a dozen comments in one thread with my link attached to my name (of course the name URL link is entered automatically each time after you enter the info one time). "Link whoring" was one of the labels she pasted on me. She is a clever polcemist of course.

I was quite impressed with the quality of your own comment there (3/29 at 4:50pm), and noticed the next day that your name also had links removed when I came back to click through.

I feel confident in retrospect I was excommunicated for using the term "jaundiced eye problem," though I did not realize how it might offend at the time I wrote it. As I see it, that is only a typical problem most people must battle occasionally. I could as well have said "We need to step back and consider." I think 'jaundiced eye' must have hit a nerve.

Frankly I feel relieved. It was too much work psychologically to ignore the personal attacks -- I didn't yet realize it was simply the paranoid style I was battling.

But it is also tragic. Unfortunately, we seem to be seeing the rise a real trap for the Left for those with IQs over 120. Not a good thing for a nation -- the typical reader should be busy talking to neighbors, writing letters to editors, but instead is led into a maze of paranoid style mental traps.

I hope I'm wrong. What is your opinion?

Bob Kerns

Andrew Revkin has an opinion piece on the NYT site nailing CBS on the headline.

They've since re-titled it Japan: 3 workers "drenched" in radioactive water. I'm not sure when they finally made the change - long enough for me to think they weren't going to do it, anyway.

Andy Wilhite

Hello Bob, I found your site looking for good Python snippets and came across this article of yours, which I think is highlighting a very good point! Why would they want to create a news article...that is not based on the news? I it more sad that they had to change it to something relevant such as the 3 workers that were hurt - After the fact of the original article? It made me think.. so thank you!


Bob Kerns

Hal, I missed seeing your comment earlier, sandwiched between the spam submissions. Sorry for the delay in approving it.

It's ironic that you discuss having been banned for "link whoring". I swear I wasn't banning you! :)

Bob Kerns

Welcome, Andy. Odd that you should end up here, looking for Python snippets. I'm curious just how that led to me? I don't do a lot of Python -- but I sure wish I could replace all the perl code in my life with Python!

Unfortunately, I think the rise of Blog Journalism has led to a general lowering of the minimum standards for journalism. It's ironic, because the best of the bloggers go to great lengths for accuracy, transparency, and accountability -- often inspired by scientific rigor.

Yet the advent of such blogs hasn't raised the bar. Instead, the ability of anyone with half an opinion to blog fantasy as fact, has lowered the bar for everyone.

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