Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#284: Richard Moore

There are few things more detrimental to reason, sanity and the well-being of people than reporters who are absolutely ignorant of science, but nonetheless think they have uncovered something the public needs to know about (be it medicine, climate, biology or what have you). Such reporters tend to swallow the manufactroversies hook and sinker, and given some POMO background assumption that all viewpoints are equal, help present the voice of the loons as respectably as possible. The consequence is of course that readers, who cannot be expected to know the science either, may think there really is a controversy here.

The problem is exacerbated if said reporter becomes dimly aware that scientists (or government, or sane organizations) dismiss the “breaking news” he copied and pasted from the loon activists. Then, of course, he may come to think that it is his duty to crank up the volume to make the public aware that authorities don’t want you to know the truth.

Richard Moore: eat your cake. Moore is an “investigative reporter” for the Lakeland Times. He has enthusiastically endorsed the Age of Autism propaganda: vaccines cause autism, autoimmune disease, and all sorts of ills, and he sees it – apparently – as his duty to help spread the gospel. And Moore jumps in deep; not only is Big Pharma untrustworthy – they are actively killing you, in an unholy alliance with the government. And he trots out pretty much every lie ever peddled by the antivaxx movement (e.g. the numbers of cases of autism must have increased, for where are the adult autistics? Well, maybe here?). It never seems to strike him that it might be worth checking his sources. First, vaccines cause autism (and kills), then BigPharma ‘release “scientific” studies “disproving” any link between autism and mercury in vaccines”. See? Conspiracy proven. Of course, being completely scientifically ignorant, Moore is unable to point out any actual scientific flaw in any of the studies, but since they don’t agree with the position he has intuited himself into, there must – must! – be a conspiracy.

Moore is not alone, of course. The attitude is frighteningly common. With respect to antivaxx, the most egregious examples include the delusional and utterly moronic reporter (who currently enjoys intimate ties with the antivaxx organizations) Sharyl Attkisson in addition to the usual suspects, already covered or to be covered, Kirby and Olmsted. Steve Wilson of WXYZ-TV in Detroit is another example.

Diagnosis: A very common example of investigative reporting gone awry because the reporter is completely ignorant about the topic and assumes that if two fractions disagree, then their viewpoints are by default equally valid and justified. I am willing to claim that reporters like him constitute one of the major threats to modern civilization.

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