Monday, 14 March 2011

Way to trivialise tragedy, people

When catastrophes occur, we turn to the media to learn more.

How sad that the media aren’t up to it.

Instead of a dispassionate recitation of facts, commentators feel they have to emote uncontrollably.

Rather than describing the context of their carefully-chosen pictures, TV stations instead scroll the same out-of-context images of destruction so frequently as to make them into wallpaper.  Wallpaper in which, by the frequency and context in with the scenes are shown the viewer might almost forget that thousands of people are dying.

Using pictures of tidal waves sweeping away cities as advertising for upcoming coverage—or of planes full of passengers flying into buildings as a backdrop for economic commentary—these are the work of people without a soul.

Instead of rational analysis, we get disaster porn.

There are many things that piss me off about disaster commentary as it’s presently done. Showing people dying as if it’s unimportant pisses me off the most.

But there are more things than that about disaster commentary that piss me off. Here’s a few of them:

These are the sort of people who like to interpose fantasy in front of reality. Who never really know what’s going on. Who at times of tragedy like to push their limp little barrows, or simply open their mouths and let the wind blow their tongue around.

When catastrophes keep occurring, when sharp thinking and rational analysis is more important than ever, I have no time for any of them.


  1. If the answer is Nick Smith then it must be some dumb arse question!!

  2. Thank you Peter - well put.
    In addition to giving us disaster porn ~ includes gross intrusion on personal grief ~ there is a neglect of news elsewhere.
    Pike River saturation cover ignored North Korea threatening nuclear war.
    Christchurch saturation cover ignores Arabic uprisings.

  3. For a lucid, rational, layman's explanation of the level of danger from Japanese nuclear power stations, see this article. It adds weight to your 'nuclear v hydro' comparison.

  4. My brand new TV (which rocked to but not over the edge of the cabinet it stands on in last months earthquake) has been living more precariously as my blood boiling at the hysterical lies being peddled about Japans nuclear plants tempted me to kick it.

  5. @WWallace: Nice link with a thorough explanation, thank you.

    Even as I write this, TV3's lead news item shows they desperately need to read it.

  6. I have just turned the TV off in disgust at both channel's 6pm coverage. The first night of the Japanese earthquake, my young daughters asked me, "why doesn't that news helicopter go and rescue those people on the roof that they're filming?" Why indeed?

  7. People saying "at least it's good for the economy!"

    These idiots need a good kicking. How about if somebody took Alan Bollard into a back alley and kicked him half to death, breaking a couple of limbs, fracturing his skull and causing severe internal bleeding....

    How would he react if we visited him in hospital the next day and said "Gee Alan, what a great stimulus your body's cell-regeneration and immune system has had! You must be really pleased with how things have turned out for you!"


  8. Then there is disaster tourism, such as high profile UK and US news anchors flying to Japan to make it relevant for us - as if Japanese TV channels don't have plenty of coverage that could be translated (and NHK already does it).

    I don't even want to guess if TVNZ has sent some clone to Japan to make the story "relevant to NZers" treating the viewers as adolescents.

  9. On queue:

  10. Robert Winefield15 Mar 2011, 04:13:00

    Amen! Fox News Bimbette was huffing and puffing the other night about Japan building it's reactors on a fault line next to the coast.

    Go read a geology book and look at a topographical map you cloth eared, block-head.

    When will reporters remember that they are our eyes and ears only. Tell me what you see and hear, I don't give a fig what you think or feel.

    And if you can't do that, sod off and go find work as a tooth whitening model.

  11. What's with all the picking on the Ring guy?
    He's got some theory that he thinks can predict earthquakes, well good for him.
    Never thought I'd see NotPC joining the schoolyard bullies picking on the slightly strange kid.
    Screw you, and Nick Smith, go join him in his dumbarse stunt.

  12. Jon said...
    What's with all the picking on the Ring guy?
    He's got some theory that he thinks can predict earthquakes, well good for him.

    Ken Ring doesn't have a theory. In fact, what he has is a hunch about future events and the likely connection of those future events to the physics that govern the laws of the universe?

    Do you see the difference? Psychics & paranormal proponents have been proposing that quantum mechanics explain pre-monition, psychic powers, materialization, psycho-kinesis and all those bullshits? That's a hunch, which means that if you look closely at their claims, there is nothing there to connect quantum mechanics to their views. None whatsoever. You won't find the (schrodinger) wave-equation being connected to the brain and how brain-waves is modeled by schrodinger's equation. If you don't believe me, then try reading some of those claims on the internet which there are tons. What you find is indeed that quantum mechanics is invoked, but they don't show if the brain emits waves that obey or shown to behave like schrodinger's equation.

    Ken Ring does the same. He invokes the moon connection without showing any physics of how the moon may be linked to earthquakes via first principles, ie, show that earthquakes equation involves the gravitational laws.

    Now, I hope you understand. BTW, get prepared to take a flight from christchurch for a Ken Ring follower, solely on Mr Ring's hunch, that's what you call a theory sir.

  13. Jon, I just might want to add. Linking physical laws to any cause of a physical observable such as earthquakes is what theoretical physicists/scientists do all the time. That's what you call a theory. The theory is then tested against available data. If there is a high correlation of match, then the theory is said to be correct (well, nothing is 100% correct, because theories keep changing all the time either being abandoned or revise when new evidence or data is shown to contradict the theory).

    The theory will also be tested against new phenomenon that it wasn't intended to account for in the first place when it was first formulated. If it keeps passing those tests in those new areas , then scientists gain more confidence in the theory in that it is being a correct theory of the physical phenomenon that they think the physics of the observable that the theory is trying to model.

    So, I hope that you understand what a theory is and what a hunch (or figment of imagination) of someone has about a physical observable.


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