Thursday, October 05, 2006

Both Sides

Read this article.

Do you notice anything wrong? Probably not. It's extremely subtle. Read this:

"Some of the social conservatives say studies show there is an overlap between pedophilia and homosexuality, a charge gay groups dispute vigorously."

It's not technically a lie. But it's far from the whole truth. "Gay groups" dispute that charge?

This is a problem with the way we get our facts - we don't get all the relevant ones. Joe Everyman, who has had no prior contact with homosexuals in any way (that he knows of) reads that, and assumes that the answer is up in the air, or worse, that there may be some merit to those social conservative "studies." In fact, the way it's reported, the other side comes out much worse - the social conservatives have "studies," the "gay groups" merely "dispute" them. Well, clearly the social conservatives are the ones doing their homework!

What the story glaringly fails to point out, is that it is not "gay groups" which "dispute" those "studies." It is the entire body of relevant and credible scientific data which discredits, disproves and demolishes those studies.

I understand that the intention of this piece was to give "fair coverage" to both sides. But shouldn't at least some aspect of the concept of fairness be about the truth? Shouldn't simply reporting the facts - in this case, that there is absolutely no link between homosexuality and pedophilia and there's not a lick of credible scientific evidence to support such a claim - be the goal?

Let me give you another example of this ridiculousness, so you can fully appreciate what I'm saying here:

"Flat-Earth society members cite numerous facts which prove that the Earth is flat, a claim that scientists dispute vigorously."

Yes, scientists dispute that vigorously. Because it's wrong. Reporting factual errors when those errors are obvious and well-documented is not biased. It's journalism.


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