A little more on the confusion-inducing media

Constantly fails the exam? I’d hardly call eleven times constantly. I mean, if you eat roast beef eleven times in your life, one would hardly say that person constantly eats roast beef.
~Rimmer, “Red Dwarf”

I was going to make a full post of this, but I’m feeling rather lazy today and I don’t feel like ranting about the news media again.

But what I will say is this: If you’re going to make a statement including hard numbers, like, say, the one I saw on the news last week (I should’ve written it down) that said something like “Radiation levels in seawater near Fukushima 4,574 times average,” then you’d best be prepared to either back it up or at least tell us what the hell the actual number is. (Run on sentence for the win.) Telling me something is 4,574 times average doesn’t mean much when I don’t know what average is. (See the “Red Dwarf” quote above.)

In response to this, the guy who writes xkcd offered up a helpful radiation chart to hopefully put things into a little more perspective. That’s not to say the Fukushima reactor disaster is just a walk in the park…it’s merely to remind us that the news media has more than a tendency to be vague and purposefully misleading. There is a reason you won’t see them link to a primary source, and it’s not to “protect” said source.

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