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AE on Telly News (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Grant



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Isn't it amazing how seemingly rational journalists present news stories in which the evidence itself contradicts what they are saying, but they just can't see it?

For instance:

- Lawrence McGinty at the North Pole telling us how global warning is melting the ice, although he is wearing full arctic gear and says it's -40 degrees. Presumably his science degree wasn't physics!

- McGinty again telling us that polar bears are dying out, but then the Inuit tell him they have never seen so many polar bears. He ends the story by repeating that the polar bears are dying out.

- Every time journos cover bush fires, we are told that, incredibly, many fires are started by arsonists. But why are none of these people ever successfully prosecuted?

My wife wants me to stop watching TV news, but I enjoy a good rant. Any better examples?
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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I was going to comment on the arsonists myself because this is a law'n'order urban myth right up there with the "rioters weren't from round here, they were outside agitators". The prosecutory authorities will have some job proving that a particular fire was started artificially when they've already admitted that 'the majority' are natural in origin.

Arsonist 1: Let's go light some fires
Arsonist 2: Shouldn't we wait for some natural fires to break out first, just to...er...cover our tracks.
Arsonist 1: That could be dangerous.
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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A couple of days ago I asked a young Australian why 'arsonists' would start bush fires and he responded "Why do murderers murder"? which seemed to me to belong in the realms of 'we've sinned so God is punishing us'. If you can't lay the blame at the door of the Almighty, why not cite 'pure evil' unless there are some handy foreigners about to avoid further discussion.

Australian police target 'known arsonists' as soon as fires break out much as their British counterparts question known paedophiles when a child is attacked and their operations are dubbed extremely successful; why then do fires continue to ravage the land? The charge of murder caused by arson carries a twenty-five year prison sentence.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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Hatty wrote:
Australian police target 'known arsonists' as soon as fires break out much as their British counterparts question known paedophiles when a child is attacked and their operations are dubbed extremely successful; why then do fires continue to ravage the land? The charge of murder caused by arson carries a twenty-five year prison sentence.

This is obviously a British Urban Myth or more likely just sensationalist journalism which is pretty much de rigueur for the MSM (Main Stream Media) The BBC being one of the worst offenders especially when there's even a hint of a Global Warming spin.

Of the seven fires burning in Victoria last weekend one presumed to be deliberately lit. Of the others, the fire that caused the most death (over 100) and destruction (over 1000 homes and businesses) was caused by falling power lines, the others were due to lightning strikes or the result of secondary ignitions from already burning fires. A man has been accused of lighting the Churchill fire that killed 10 people. It has still not been determined whether it was a deliberate act or negligence.
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Komorikid


In: Gold Coast, Australia
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Grant wrote:
Every time journos cover bush fires, we are told that, incredibly, many fires are started by arsonists. But why are none of these people ever successfully prosecuted?

One of the things that journos don't do is promote the most obvious option. Even when confronted with it (as your North Pole post exemplifies). Sensationalism and catastrophe sells newspapers and get TV ratings. One only has to look at the continuing stream of alarmist prediction regularly gushing forth from Mick's favourite broadsheet, The Guardian, about the dire consequences of Global Warming to see that chaos sells. There's no money or ratings in 'just as it ever was' or 'move along nothing to see here'.

'The fire was deliberately lit' is journospeak for 'we were able to determine that the fire was not started by any natural causes or apparent accidental ignition sources.'

The facts are that although Fire Forensics can establish with a great deal of accuracy the 'point of origin' of fire and whether it was naturally or unnaturally lit, unless there is physical evidence or eye witness testimony it is extremely difficult to determine whether a fire with no natural ignition sources is the result of a deliberate act or just plain negligence.

In this country they are prosecuted and are usually from the local area the fire affected. In quite a few cases they were actually volunteer fire-fighters. The reason more aren't is for the simple reason that most fires are either naturally or accidentally started. Anything that is not recognised by fire authorities as a natural ignition is automatically seized upon by the media as another arsonist on the loose.

It is a wise move reinterpret the B in ABC, BBC, NBC, CBS etc as Bullshit
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Mick Harper
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It has still not been determined whether it was a deliberate act or negligence.

Well, Komoro, perhaps you might keep a watching brief. The AEL says that if he is found guilty of deliberate arson, it will be a miscarriage of justice.

In quite a few cases they were actually volunteer fire-fighters.

This is a well-known syndrome but is unlikely to be the case here simply because there were forest fires already. Pray try to find out how many people have been found guilty of murder by reason of forest-fire arson in the last twenty years in Australia. I will firmly predict...zero.
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Grant



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And another thing...

It infuriates me when I see economists explaining the credit crunch and offering solutions and prognostications. Why doesn't the interviewer say:

- as there have been only a large handful of serious recessions, on what grounds do you make your predictions? You don't have a large enough data set

- did you predict this recession?

My view is that from this point on anything could happen, and no-one has a clue. This makes shares a tremendous buy at the moment. There is at least a good chance that shares will rocket by the end of the year. (There's also a good chance that we will all be eating out of tins, but this is what makes it an economic Pascal's wager).

Warning: shares can go down as well as up.
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Mick Harper
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Yes, that is why I am the only person in the world (currently, I expect you'll all climb aboard now) who believes the bloke from Royal Bank of Scotland entirely deserves his massive pension. He was a perfectly competent (indeed apparently uber-competent) company executive who happened not to know what everybody else didn't know either.
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Brian Ambrose



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It infuriates me when I see economists explaining the credit crunch and offering solutions and prognostications.


Yes, these experts are most often the very same people who placed their heads firmly in the sand during the financial bubble, and now they're wringing their hands and proclaiming that they now have the wisdom of Solomon.

However, it is not true to say that this mess wasn't predictable, and predicted. I get Money Week magazine and ages ago the editor advised everyone to get out of stocks due to the inevitability of a crash in the markets, housing, and the financial institutions. In fact many of the contributors were extremely negative about the economy, the glut of money feeding the housing market frenzy, and the enormous leverage the banks were using with dodgy financial assets. The fact is, an awful lot of people knew it was too good to be true but they didn't want to miss out on the fun - or the commissions.
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Grant



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OK then, what's the AE position on the current biggest news story? Are we all going to die of Swine Flu? Here's my take:

Tens of thousands of Mexicans have caught this bug, but only 20 to 100 have died. In other words, it's like every other flu outbreak.

And isn't it an amazing coincidence that this has broken out next door to the country with the largest number of microbiologists, who are all just itching to catalogue the next epidemic? And don't forget the Center for Disease Control. They've been predicting it for years and now it's happened - and just next door!

This sort of outbreak happens every year somewhere, but usually it's in China or Africa and we never notice it.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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You've just earned your Applied Epistemology merit badge, 3rd class.
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Mick Harper
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I was rather annoyed that Mexico was the birthplace. It scuppered a fancy theory of mine that viruses are essentially space-debris and that it is the turning of the earth that controls the spread. I put this together to account for 'the fact' that all pandemics 'come from the east'.

However, now I come to think about it, this is the first time Australia and New Zealand have come into the firing line so early so maybe My Theory might survive.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Mick Harper wrote:
I put this together to account for 'the fact' that all pandemics 'come from the east'.


If these diseases randomly arise in the human population (from whatever cause), does it not make sense that they should arise first where the population is largest?

Pick a human being at random. Call them "patient zero". Odds are patient zero is Asian.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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This might be the case of course but THOBR offers a better (or more accurately a gloss on your) explanation. Since 'we' are at the western end of the largest landmass on earth, then we will always think that 'things' come from the east. As THOBR put it, evidence of the 'survival of a mystic sun-cult'.

But it's never us-what-done-it (even quite good stuff!) so it will be fascinating to see what happens if the USA was actually the source.
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Grant



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Mick wrote:
It scuppered a fancy theory of mine that viruses are essentially space-debris and that it is the turning of the earth that controls the spread.

I thought that was Fred Hoyle's idea.
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