Thursday, January 06, 2011

Is there some kind of intelligence test you have to fail to be on FOX?

Shorter Bill O'Reilly:
"Fucking magnets - how do they work?" (for the meme-challenged, go read this)

One of my father's favorite jokes goes something like this:

"The Thermos is one of the greatest inventions of modern man and also one of the world's great mysteries. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, but how does it know?"

To you and me and my dad - and anyone else who managed to pass science class in elementary school - this is a funny joke. I suspect it might be the kind of conundrum that would keep Bill O'Reilly up all night.

I know, I know - someone on FOX News saying something stupid is so rare it only happens on days that end in a 'Y' - but big bad Bill outdid himself this week, further proving that the Enlightenment of the 17th century hasn't quite caught on in some segments of North America.

Leaving aside O'Reilly's usual abrasiveness and tendency to ask a question and then refuse to allow the guest to answer it, and his boneheaded, reducto ad absurdum insistence on blaming the victims of every con artist in history, and his eagerness to take offense at a campaign by a group of atheists that is obviously intended to provoke controversy and encourage people to admit the emperor is stark naked, let's look at his oh-so-clever dismissal of atheism.

Quoth the Billo:

"I'll tell you why [religion is] not a scam. In my opinion -- alright? Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that. You can't explain why the tide goes in."

 To quote a prominent political figure "Yes, we can" - I guess Bill's unfamiliar with the old adage that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. This is shooting fish in a barrel with a grenade launcher. I can't believe I have to point this out, but we've known how and why tides work since Newton laid it all out in 1682. Maybe this a result of Bill's antipathy toward Islam - he just doesn't trust math because it is all done with arabic numerals - or maybe he thinks gravity, like evolution is just a theory. And yet, Billo makes an obscene amount of money talking on the TV and is considered by millions to be a smarter than those pinhead liberal eggheads.

Hat tip to the Booman Tribune


Informed Despite Education said...

Next time maybe he will tackle a real problem, like trying to figure out why the sun revolves around the earth. There is a reason that partisan politics is so prevalent in the developed world, how else would ambitious stupid people make a living?

Lorne said...

I enjoyed your post, but in addition to the patent stupidity of people like Bill O'Reilly, the fact is that Mr. Silverman did not really acquit himself especially well either (although of course, the opportunity for rational discussion is almost non-existent on Fox.)

Both host and guest indulged in some very basic fallacies of reasoning; O'Reilly, as is his wont, persistently appeals to people's passions and prejudices by misrepresenting and baiting Silverman, while the latter indulges in gross overgeneralizations, as when he claims that "everyone knows religion is a scam."

As well, both take a very absolutist approach to the issue, insisting that theirs is the only correct view.

What a waste of time! At the risk of taking an absolutist stand, the video just reinforces my view that Fox is not a network worth watching for people with critical thinking skills.

Edstock said...

Like Bugs says, "What a maroon!"

Someone once said of someone, "The closest he'll get to a brainstorm is a light drizzle".

Well, with Billo, all you get is a light fog.

Dana said...

The glories of television. And increasingly of newspapers too.

There's no distinction made any more between entertainment and news.

All that matters is ratings and ad sales rates and the devil take the hindmost.

You and I, our fellow citizens of the world and democracy are becoming the hindmost.

It's only going to get worse too.

Blade Runner is looking more and more prophetic.

Niles said...

I don't know, Ms. Dana. I don't watch Fosh and yet I know Mr.Billo is an idiot. However, I haven't come to this conclusion because of tv or the newspapers. I know it because of the new communication media. This blog is a sterling example of the nanosecond speed of text and video being passed around as mocking 'oh no, he didn't'.

Of course, Mr. Billo knows he's a snakeoil salesman and is counting on there being enough people not hooked into the new media to keep him rolling in fiduciary clover. Which circles back to the article title question.

I'm not sure it's an intelligence test so much as literacy test.

I could wish everyone in the world would have an intertubes fairy drop wifi and a comlink on them, but the extra tough step would be getting people to the level of 'actively reading' their comlink resource.

Literacy is still a big block in even our 'first world' society, even in the upperclasses. How many hanging around just this one blogsite have heard the nervous and breathy variation of "have you read all those books on your shelves?".

Passive listening is so much easier than active reading and an illiterate or low literacy person falls into a trust trap of needing a narrator to be telling them the truth. These are not the geeks that burn rubber for research sources every time they're piqued by something. (A fine example of this google warpspeed is the slapdown of the link to info about tides in your article). The real crime Mr. Billo commits is selling literacy as an outlier 'elitism' to further his and Fox's own profit motives.

Sadly, there are sections of the US where the only local airwaves are carrying him and Rush Limbaugh(and people wonder why they're so popular), but I keep hoping the internet stays ahead of the corporate need to strangle it and gets less expensive. It is the Little Blue Books of our age.

Greg said...

@Lorne. Silverman was not overgeneralizing. He just wasn't allowed to finish. I've had many of these discussions before and I know exactly what he meant to say.

"Everyone knows religion is a scam, Bill. As a Catholic, you know Islam is a scam, Scientology is a scam, Jehovah's Witness's and Heaven's gate and David Koresh are scams."

We make the exact same argument about atheism: "We're both atheists with regard to 99.9% of all of the gods and religions that have ever been. I just go one god further."

So, no, it wasn't overgeneralizing. He just didn't get to finish his point.

Rev.Paperboy said...

O'Reilly never lets anyone finish their point, that's his schtick. Silverman obviously didn't want to call out the host and get into an argument over tides but you can see in his face that the minute O'Reilly starts in on his "tide goes in, tides goes out, never a miscommunication" dingbattery, Silverman is thinking "WTF? Tides? what he hell is this goofball nattering about?"