Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm Not So Sure

So between reruns of More Extreme Marksmen on Sunday night, the History Channel runs a show about Bernie Madoff and then one on the overall economic collapse. They were interesting enough, but I came away with a general feeling that the next thing that I needed to do was go and verify what they'd presented.

No, this isn't because they screwed up the Sears Tower thing - rather, it was because they started off my saying that Madoff had swindled people out of some 65 billion dollars. To get this figure, people have calculated the money that people would have received, had Madoff actually delivered on the returns he promised. But, economists have said that this isn't an accurate or appropriate way to determine the damage. They also ran interview footage from an author whose only claim to any expertise seemed to be that he was writing a book on Madoff that hadn't been published yet. No other credentials were presented.

The purpose of informational media is to tell you things you don't already know - otherwise, while it might be really interesting, it's really no different from entertainment media. To that end, you have to have a certain amount of confidence that the information that's being presented is accurate. Otherwise, what's the point?

1 comment:

Catnapping said...

that's how the news strikes me, anymore...like Entertainment Tonight.

i can remember the first time i saw that show. tom got stationed at camp pendleton, and it was a local thing still...on every night. like what celebrities were doing was actually important.

people do like to gossip. and to more and more people...that's what the news is to them...gossip. i mean that both ways...yes, the media has made it so, but also the public seems to want it that way.

i think maybe there's just only so much information humans can handle. i mean, it's already been shown that we cannot handle the stress of large populations. we're crappy at maintaining relationships in large groups.

we cannot keep track of everyone's status, and their relationship to us (who'd married to whom...cousins, aunts, and in-laws, etc). and since we use information in our social interactions...i wonder sometimes if we react to information overload the same we do with overpopulation...backing off...looking only for the superficial stuff?