Sunday, August 31, 2008

Huh

The Internet is an amazing place. As in, amazingly weird. A number of websites are running with rumours that Sarah Palin's youngest child is, in fact, her grandchild born of her daughter Bristol. I'm not providing any links, nor will I mention it after this one and only post. But I wanted to bring it up because I think it highlights the odd dynamic of the Internet: tiny, vocal, crazy-ass minorities can nevertheless be numerous enough on the Internet to appear more impressive than they are.

So we get never-ending rumours about Barack Obama's birth, and now no doubt Sarah Palin's daughter. We get the spectacle of the media inventing 9 out of 10 angry Hillary supporters of the PUMA mold, and of course we get it in larger ways too: the "controversy" over climate change is just this phenomenon writ slightly larger.

Journalists need to develop new filters for the Internet age, and one of them is this: just because a nominally large number of people say something, doesn't mean they're important.

5 comments:

Gar Lipow said...

I think you ought to crosspost this to Gristmill.

Gar Lipow said...

Just realized I did not explain why I thought it belongs there. I think the comparison between rumor mongering on the low end of the food change, (the Palin grand-Baby,Muslim Obama) and global warming denial may break through to people who don't "get" why scienc and "skepticism" should not get equal time. By having both a Republican and Democratic example, you suddenly have a comparison between denialism and at least one thing most people think should not be given the spotlight. That is if you are a Democrat or a sane Republican you don't think much of the Muslim rumor. If you are a Republican or a sane Democrat you don't think much of the grand-baby rumor. It is a really good concrete comparison that might reach people who don't want to put a lot thought into the scientific issue.

john said...

It's difficult for me to claim that I'm raising it once and only once if I raise it on my far-more-prominent position at Grist.

Gar Lipow said...

OK, all right if I link then? Cause I think the comparison with global warming is a really good one.

john said...

Go ahead, by all means.