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August 25, 2006

Comments

"Unfortunately, the media has a horrible track record of inaccuracy in reporting the entire stem cell field,"

Not quite, the media actually has a horrible record on lots more then the stem cell field. In general the media has abdicated any role in communicating truth prefering instead to take the easy way out and do he said/she said "journalism". We regularally get stories that are the equivalent of "Shape of Earth - Opinions Differ" in which a spokesman from NASA is balanced by a member of The Flat Earth Society.

We have generalist reporters, working on deadline and getting their paychecks from coporate owners with distinct interests.

That is why 50% of the American people still think Iraq had WMDs and why Bush got a 4% bump in the polls after the phony terrorist plot hit the news last week. Bad reporting gave us Terri Schaivo, a war in Iraq and a corrupt, incompetent President, just to name a few of the recent results of the current gutless approach to "journalism".

This may be of interest to some of us:

http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/4877_52.htm

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/d_james_kennedy_busted.php

"That is why 50% of the American people still think Iraq had WMDs..."

This comment implies that Mr. Aronson does not believe that Iraq had WMD prior to the U.S. and Coalition Forces going to war with Saddam Hussein. If this assumption is true, then how does Mr. Aronson reply to the unclassified letter from the Director of National Intelligence, Mr. John D. Negroponte, to the House of Representatives, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence dated 21 June 2006, which states:

• Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

• Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.

• Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for Coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out.

• The most likely munitions remaining are sarin and mustard-filled projectiles.

• The purity of the agent inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives, and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

• It has been reported in open press that insurgents and Iraqi groups desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.

It is my understanding the sarin and mustard nerve agents qualify as WMD. It is also my understanding that these are exactly the agents Saddam Hussein was known to possess because he used them on his own people. These are exactly the agents Saddam Hussein denied having. The reason the U.S. and Coalition forces went to war with Saddam Hussein was because he continued to play cat-and-mouse games with UN inspectors, which prevented them from verifying his denials of possessing banned weapons - conventional and WMD. We now know that Saddam Hussein did, in fact, possess conventional and non-conventional weapons in Iraq that he was prohibited from having.

I will concede that I expected to find larger stockpiles of weapons. But please remember that there is no degree of magnitude to a false statement. In a proof by contradiction, one need not demonstrate the degree to which a statement is false, simply that it is false. To state that Iraq did NOT have WMD is simply false.

Reference: http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=1078
http://intelligence.house.gov/Media/PDFS/DNILetter.pdf#search=%22iraqi%20chemical%20munitions%22

My apologies to STR for the off-topic post. I greatly value your resource and would rather not clutter it with unnecessary tangents. I think that the issue at hand in both the original post by Melinda and my tangent post has to do with the pursuit of what is true. Kudos to Melinda, and STR, for providing us with the truth and helping so many to think critically about what they believe. Thank you!

Hi Shaun, Mr. Aronson did his post on the theory that what's sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander and that special pleading is intellectually dishonest. The problem isn't the way the media reports stem cell research, it's the way they report most everything that's important.

I think it's fair to point out that there is a problem with crying hard times when the media screws up on your issue while using the same poor reporting to your advantage when it suits you.

Even Bush in his latest press conference admitted that Iraq had no WMD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1j_GUvrysA

Listen to the above; you should listen to all of it but the part at 0.44 should resolve your immediate problem with my claims. Listen to all of it though and you might understand why I'm a little peevish.

Some more information on the media:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/08/the_future_of_t.html

http://mediamatters.org/

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/better_press_corps/index.html

And all of this (WMD's, etc) has what bearing on ESCR?

Reasonable question John. I was making a broader point and Shaun appairently took offense due to a misunderstanding over the strategy and tactics relating to the various types of WMDs.

The broader point is this. We have a too often lazy and sometimes dishonest media. I expect a Christian organization to be more concerned with truth than with partisan advantage and advancing single issue politics.

It is wrong to complain when the problematic nature of our media gets your issue wrong and then use that same tendency to get it wrong to advance your own ideological and political agenda.

For eample we recently had a post expressing gratitude:

"Thank God we have excellent security professionals who thwarted this terrorist plot to blow up airliners. It must require dogged persistence and sacrifice to uncover these kinds of plots. It's a miracle to me that they have been largely successful."

Of course we quickly found out that no attack was even close to happening and that it was most likely the Bush Administration (Rove) blowing a British terror investigation prematurely for domestic political advantage (not the first time that has happened). No correction was ever published.

To give you another example. When you saw the video of Terri Schaivo attempting to "communicate" did the folks running the program ever give you the information that this video was a few seconds cherry-picked out of hours of taping? That information (in part) would have told everone that we were dealing with the random movements of a bady damaged body and that Terri was long gone.

Christian organizations were happy to use the dishonestly and senstionalism surrounding that case for partisan and ideological advantage.

Focusing on a single issue is a classic way to manipulate people. All single issue oragnizations - left and right, religious and secular - are likely to fall into this trap.

ESCR is an important issue but there are lots of important issues. and single issue and identity politcs are deadly to representative government.

Regarding what to expect from Christian organizations in general I expect them to be interested in what is true.

STR been about finding what is true. Look at what STR founder Greg Koukl says when advocates the need make sure that one has what is really true, especially where religion is concerned, since all religions cannot all be true.

Regarding a lazy and dishonest media, we could throw in the (lazy?) 'Dan Rathergate' mess and the poor (dishonest?) quality control that we've seen from Reuters recently on some of the doctored and re-run photos coming out of Lebanon.

And regarding manipulation of people, look at how quickly some folks snapped up Rathergate as the real deal when it wasn't. I expect that even after Reuters disavowed the doctored and re-run photos, there were folks who refused to believe that the Israelis weren't beating up on someone again.

Much of the media has moved away from simply giving facts to selling a position on an issue. Formerly, that was what the editorial page of the newpaper was for, but now the 'opinion' is given in the reporting as well.


John, Is there a point to your post? I notice you evaded my point which was that passing on bad journalism when it helps you and complaining about bad journalism when it's your ox being gored is unworthy of those who have a concern for the truth.

Sometimes good people do bad things especially when it seems to help a cause they consider critical. Unfortunately a moral calculus that is centered on a single issue will often come up with troubling results. I doubt there is one person who reads this who, if faced with one post-birth human and a million frozen embryos in a situation in which only one could be saved, wouldn't hesitate to save the single post-birth human and let the embros perish.

If one is making a calculation on how to vote there might be some value in tossing in other factors besides the fate of single celled entities, say the lives of American soldiers and Marines and Iraqi civilians, not to mention a real concern for our national security. Hey, just a suggestion.

Oh, and I just found this on "Crooks and Liars" (an excellent site, biw). If you voted for the "pro-life" candidate, this is what you, in effect voted not to have. This is, of course, in addition to the dead American servicemen and women and Iraqi civilians that you did vote to have.

"The National Priorities Project has a real eye-opening website that calculates the cost of the War in Iraq and them compares it to what we could do with that money.

As a resident of California, here’s what they say we could be doing:

Taxpayers in California will pay $40.3 billion for the cost of war in Iraq. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

* 16,733,296 People with Health Care or
* 627,551 Elementary School Teachers or
* 4,767,634 Head Start Places for Children or
* 25,168,314 Children with Health Care or
* 235,246 Affordable Housing Units or
* 4,390 New Elementary Schools or
* 7,685,109 Scholarships for University Students or
* 616,017 Music and Arts Teachers or
* 741,482 Public Safety Officers or
* 117,140,845 Homes with Renewable Electricity or
* 601,790 Port Container Inspectors

Go check out what the trade-offs are for your state."

http://nationalpriorities.org/

alan, for someone who keeps apologising for dragging side issues in, you sure seem determined to do it.

Hi William, my point isn't a side issue; it's central. Single issue politics are the side issue designed to distract and manipulate.

If we are going to get accurate information from the MSM, we need to demand it across the board. If we only complain when our issue is the one negatively effected and, even worse, freely pass on the bad stuff when it's to our advantage, then we will never get good information.

This is an issue of moats and beams. The error in reporting on the Science article pales in comparison when one considers that the same media culture helped get us into a losing war, unparalleled corruption and fiscal insanity.

Alan:

You wrote: "I expect a Christian organization to be more concerned with truth than with partisan advantage and advancing single issue politics.".

My response was that STR's founder Greg Koukl has spoken about the need to find what is true, especially where relgion is concerned.

You wrote:

"We have a too often lazy and sometimes dishonest media."

I supplied two relevant examples of what appears to be both kinds of media activity. Are they not relevant, did I misunderstand what you wrote, or are they the 'wrong' kinds of examples?

The statistical information is interesting but aren't those numbers a bit misleading and therefore subject to your 'lazy media' point?

First, let's consider the source of those numbers. What are the motives of the group presenting them? What does "promote social and economic justice" mean? What is your defintion of this phrase? Does this mean that we are to join the collective?

Second, does CA NEED 627,551 elementary school teachers? Does CA NEED 4,390 elementary schools?

A group opposed to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere says that the $ spent in those places should have been spent elsewhere. A similar list could be composed for WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War.

Tax dollars can always be spent elsewhere.

Melinda's original post was about ESCR.

Alan, let me see if I understand what you are saying… Your central issue is that single issue politics are designed to distract and manipulate. How do you resolve the apparent self-refutation of this statement? Your central issue appears to be a single issue reinforced with examples regarding President Bush, the war in Iraq, health care, school teachers, and others are political issues. That is, your posts relate to us your views about social relationships involving authority or power, which is the definition of political. Therefore, your central issue is a political single issue. However, you assert that single issue politics are designed to distract and manipulate. Have you designed your central issue to distract and manipulate?

The point is, as John mentioned previously, the single issue at hand is truth. What is true about ESCR? Is the human “pre-birth human” a human? Is the “pre-birth human” equal in value to the “post-birth human?” What is the nature of the unborn and can we know it? We can muddy the water with false dilemmas about the cost of the war in Iraq, but this simply distracts us from the truth. We can accuse people of being offended by “misunderstanding” us when we assert that Iraq didn’t have any WMD on one hand and that he only had various types of WMD on another, but this only comes across as manipulating the discussion regarding the truth of the issue.

Mr. Aronson, if you want to engage in honest discussions stemming from accurate information, then let us start today - right here, right now. STR has provided this resource for us to discuss the real issues and reason together freely with good information. The discussion must start with one coherent idea that corresponds to the world as we discover it to be and should probably be reinforced by a reliable authority. So let us muse together… Is the living human embryo an unborn (“pre-birth”) human person?

If being more concerned about national security, the economy, the environment, health care, taxation and the preservation of government under the Constitution of 1787 as opposed to being focused on definitions of clusters of cells makes me a single issue voter then I guess I'm guilty. Oh, and Shaun, look up reductionist thinking.

John, your examples were fine, i just sense a resistence to my larger point which is that if we pass on media lies and inaccuracies when they help our agenda and cry hard times when they harm our agenda, we harm the system.

The numbers are interesting but I wouldn't characterize National Priorities as part of the media. I see them as an advocacy organization and anything coming from them needs to be viewed in that light. Same for Cato.

California may not need any of those items in the numbers listed but an improved health care system PLUS a few more teachers and schools, including music and art education (early exposure to good music may improve math skills) and we certainly need more port security. Use your imagination and I'm sure most all of us could come up with combinations that would leave us better off.

As for other wars: Afghanistan in effect attacked us and we didn't have much choice in WWII as Japan attacked us and Germany declared war on us. Korea was likewise foisted on us. The Gulf War was mismanaged but broke Saddam and, given the threat to Saudi and the Gulf was likely necessary.

The other three wars are a problem for you. WWI is the waste of all times. The world we live in is worse off for it and probably always will be. Vietnam was a blunder and a waste.

Iraq is the blunder of all times for the United States. A war of choice, the reasons for which were errors at best and lies at worst, with incompetent planning and based on a radical and unrealistic strategic vision of the world.

Comparing bad situations in which we were forced to fight with bad decisions like Vietnam and Iraq and total insanity like WWI is pointless. if your car breaks down you have to get it fixed. That is different then choosing to put gold plated spinners on it when you might have better uses for the money.

The folks at STR are good people, of course, but single issue advocacy can cause good people to occasionally do bad things, that is why I try to keep a balance of issues as I am enough of a sinner already.

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