That's why news porn is so successful

by Rudd-O published 2007/08/23 11:41:07 GMT+0, last modified 2013-06-26T03:24:27+00:00

No, neither nudity nor sexual acts. News porn. What gets people off when they see news is scandal and exaggeration.

Bruce Schneier exposes just two red herrings TV and newspapers love to quote:

Here's another example. What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for "20/20," I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I'm sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident.

Bird flu was called the No. 1 threat to the world. But bird flu has killed no one in America, while regular flu -- the boring kind -- kills tens of thousands. New York City internist Marc Siegel says that after the media hype, his patients didn't want to hear that.

"I say, 'You need a flu shot.' You know the regular flu is killing 36,000 per year. They say, 'Don't talk to me about regular flu. What about bird flu?'"

Current hot-button issues:

  • abortion and contraception
  • terrorism
  • drug use
  • firearms
  • violent action games and movies
  • sex

are decoys used by newsrooms to fill their space and time quotas. The newsrooms are focusing on all them, and completely forgetting about all the issues that matter much more in terms of quality of life and the health of society. We, across the world, have been paying attention to these "decoy conversations", devising whole bone-headed policies, around them. It's about time we stopped.

When was the last time a news story focused on how many lives are lost to drug wars (territorial feuds and revenge killings)? Perhaps lives ruined through lack of access to hygienic abortions (most poor people suffer from this) or contraception? Lives saved by the use of firearms in self-defense (tens of thousands in the U.S. yearly)? Kids playing violent games who don't get involved in school shootings (about 99.9999% at my last assessment)?

So, the next time you see something dramatic reported on the news, don't just blindly nod and think "yes, someone should do something about _". Think, and see if the frequency of the danger warrants doing something, or focusing on something else instead. Think, and see if the policy we as a society apply to that issue actually makes sense.

Don't take the fact that news channels peddle something as it being frequent. The numbers are out there -- just look for them.

Oh, by the way, houses with pools are more dangerous that houses with guns. That doesn't mean I will not get myself a pool. Neither does it mean I will rid me of any guns.