Monday, March 14, 2005

Go Lebanon! Go away Junk Science.

I confess after the first anti-Syrian protests in Beirut, I was elated. Then I was chastened and discouraged by the following pro-Syria demonstrations. Sure, the second set of protesters looked more like hired commandos than locals, but there were so many of them... Today's new anti-Syrian protests are at least twice (some say three or four times) the size of the Hezbollah hurrah.


I'm back to Bashar-bashing. May Lebanon be restored to a beautiful garden cultivated by its own people.

Jeff Jarvis has a great round-up from Lebanese who are blogging this event.

In other news, the NY Post published this op-ed below about an extremely iffy linkage between breast cancer and second-hand smoke. What's noteworthy is not that such unexamined crap became a story among the MSM who all have health segments to fill. What encourages me is that this response to the bad science could be made so quickly and vigorously.

Americans become conversant with unfamiliar issues through media coverage: tsunamis, judicial filibusters, hybrid vehicles. That's not such a terrible method if the information provided is accurate. However, I think we could all become more discerning when digesting the "new research" blurbs by learning or refreshing our understanding of concepts like peer review, statistically significant sampling, double-blind studies, and hypothetical extrapolation. Many of the practices that make good science are intuitively sensible, so it wouldn't take much enhanced exposure to get more people to start asking questions about the methods behind the "facts" they're presented.

A more scientifically-savvy (even logical) populace may not avoid all the junk science, but it might keep some of the unfounded doom and panic stories off the teleprompter and heap scorn upon the talking heads who propogate such garbage. But of course, which media giant wants that?

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