News Mash: News illiteracy on the rise!

I've personally been off WotM for some time now, and actually find myself smiling at my podcasts directory, as I have a dozen hours of material to go through. Why I smile, I don't know. I'm weird that way.

A reader of ours sent the Watchdog crew a message concerning a recent gem in WotM news coverage. Yes, they do news. Science news when they disagree with the results, religion news, funny news, religious news, politics when they pertain to religion, etc. Inspired by this message, I decided to check the show out with my own ears. It's amazing! So let's examine the hour 2 news bit on WotM Radio on October 15th!
I can reed news reel gud

It's that time of the year again when the Nobel prizes start rolling out. Let's see how WotM's unbiased news hawks cover some items of this most exciting of ceremonies!

Tony Verkinnes, WotM news anchor and stoic counterweight to Todd's exuberance, sits in his chair, prays to God that his mic won't fail and starts his reporting. The news item that's at hand here concerns the fact that Al Gore won the Nobel peace prize, which is odd to Tony, because global warming is a fairytale. Of course, it couldn't have anything to do with someone working to encourage people to work together in harmony towards a good cause, being rewarded for propagating such selfish ideas is outright silly! Tony also passingly mentions that Al Gore kills babies, so he surely cannot be a man of peace. How relevant to the story, I'm glad you managed to sneak that in, Tony.

Tony finds relief in the fact that other Nobels go out for silly things too. Actually, he goes on to build a case that the whole Nobel ceremony has withered into a shebang of silly, and this to him perfectly discredits Al Gore's ideas in the process. For example, the Nobel of medicine, was awarded to a pair of researchers investigating the side effects of sword-swallowing and the literature prize was awarded to a linguist on her research on the word “the”. Now if anyone at WotM had paid more attention, they would have noticed, that among these prizes, we find that the peace prize actually went to the Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for suggesting the research and development of a “gay bomb”. What? No Gore?

Of course no Gore, because I'm going through a list of the Ig Nobels. Tony just somehow “forgot” to mention this? This strikes us as an attempt to poke at the scientific community, trying to somehow signal to the listeners that “Gosh, those scientists are a kooky bunch”.

The Ig Nobel prizes, if you do not know (shame on you), are a spin-off and parody of the “real” Nobel prizes. It's a play on words, as you can read it as “ignoble”. The Ig Nobels are handed out by actual Nobel prize winners, to scientists and researchers for research that “first makes people laugh, and then make them think”. Did you know, that a hamster gets over a bout of jet lag faster when he ingests male potency medication?

Now let's not be hasty and throw blame around before we've considered the possibilities. I see a couple of possible scenarios here:

A) Maybe WotM studios received this list of prizes from someone that intentionally left out the crucial two letters “Ig”. Maybe it's not all their fault? Still, it's the Nobel prizes. Once. A. Year. Pretty much everyone runs into them in some form or another, digital or cellulose, it's not too hard to do a little background checking on something like this. If this is the case, it's a prime example of what I consider to be one of the most damaging effects of fervent fundamentalism: you lose your critical faculties. Hear/read something, eat it up, just as long as it sounds good to you. An example of information illiteracy and reader bias.

B) They read a story on the Ig Nobels and just ignored the letters"Ig", because of course that's the Nobels the story is written about, since they have never heard of the Ig Nobels. Ig is just something that they don't have to worry about. Mash the two stories together in your mind and you're good to go! A failure in fundamental literacy, the words are there but they are not heeded.

C) They intentionally didn't discern between the events because they are pushing an agenda and needed something to stick it to some liberal wackjob whose pitch-black soul is fueled by satanic ectoplasm that he extracts from the succulent eyeballs of cute little babies.

D) We listeners were undergoing a mass hallucination when in reality Tony was actually making perfect sense, covering the Ig Nobels in a sound and lightly humorous fashion as they should be.

None of these sound too good. I'm especially worried about the fourth one. Can you come up with more?

We've sent WotM Radio requests to address this issue on the show, as what they are doing is, intentionally or unintentionally, deceiving their listeners, peddling a distorted view of science by offering a misrepresentation of the facts. Nothing new there. Except that we now know that with the Fundie(â„¢) method, you can get up to 78,5% more logical fallacies into two minutes of speech!

Nobel Prizes, official site
Ig Nobels at Wikipedia
The news bit in WotM, at beginning of the show