Monday, September 13, 2010

Tell me if you've heard this Government Gag...

I'm not usually here to talk politics, but when it infringes on the right to information, the suppression of science for the benefit of a party's ideological views, I make an exception.

We learned yesterday, via the Vancouver Sun and Slashdot, that the Canadian Government was "muzzling" its scientists, so that no "politically sensitive findings" could be sent out to the media without approval. This resulted in some red tape nightmares, of course, and has the article goes on, we clearly see that it may be their (the Government's) gateway to control any findings made by taxpayer-funded researchers*.

The funny thing is in all this, and by funny I really mean, patheti-sad, is that this is not the first time the Conservative government pulls this kind of hoodwink on Canadians. Indeed, back in 08, we found out, via the media, that they were establishing new "government approved lines" for Environment Canada's scientists!

Do any of you remember that? Not me, or at least not clearly, and that's what scary in all this: The current Government has been slowly bending and circumventing laws and regulations to infringe on our liberties and rights, only so they can have a tighter message, closer to their ideals. May it be via these scientific gags or prorogation of parliament anytime things are not going their way, the current Government seem to bask in a "get out of jail free card" that allows them to scrub out any media "faux pas" so that we forget so easily, what happened, last year, last month or last week.

In closing, I am aware that no body of Government is perfect and that there will always be influences on our leaders, and law makers but they should be above most of these influences. They are paid to do so, they are elected to do so. Not to masquerade decisions as political when they are really ideological. Not to take the voice of research&reason, shape it into a "party line" and send it back, polished and spun so no feathers are ruffled, no lobbyist insulted, no one enlightened by findings and discoveries that might challenge preconceived notions.

We certainly wouldn't want that now would we?

*this would be as severe a matter if the scientist were not tax-payer funded.Just sayin'

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It SHOULD be called ghost lab, only for the immaterial presence of science

It seems that the Discovery Channel as fallen into the "trend" of bathing in the murky waters of pseudo-science with this show called Ghost Lab.

The show (and here I really thought it would be otherwise) looks tastes and smells like any other ghost-busting, ghost-chasing, EVP, speculation-filled glob of misdirection.

After seeing a few shows and being swamped with gems like: "I just felt something on my hand. It could have been a bug...but I don't see a bug! (this said in a dark room only illuminated by a hand held flash light and a "nightvision camera spot")" All of this drowned in a "scientific" veneer because they use (i.e. drown you in their overabundance of) "sophisticated instruments"* like tape recorders, heat sensors and many other baffling pieces of technology!

The majority of the problem, in this instance, is WHERE we find this generic paranormal dry cracker; we would expect something of the kind when channel surfing to A&E, TLC or (and this breaks my academic heart to say) the History channel but to find this kind of show on a channel that usually prides itself on conveying scientific facts and well detailed research, it leaves you with an after taste of bad programing or even maybe a quest for the $ at the expense of the quality that should and has been offered to their viewers.

This is not to say that everything that comes to the screen of Discovery is 100% incensed in the scientific method, far from it. The wild cards or odd ducks are, more often then not, found in the one shot specials or mini series and still keep some facts in there soup of far out speculations and somewhat misleading assumptions. Ghostlab is an ongoing show, a constant series of episodes filled with misinformation and empty techno-babel that hooks the young and reinforce the preset pasterns of the amateur paranormal enthusiast tethering on the fence.

If Discovery wants to "reach out" to people interested in paranormal phenomenons and exhaustive theories, they would be the perfect vessel to promote shows like The Skeptologists or something akin to the National Geographic Channel's Is it Real.

These show structures don't stop at the "we may never know" line. Instead ,they lay down the facts and more probable explanations to help the viewer establish a clearer picture of the evidence which hits the pallet much more akin to a Discovery-esque vintage.

In the end, there are more pressing matters in the world then the winter-spring line up of a cable channel but when you stop and realize the power of the medium television his, will be and has been since its inception, making sure it spreads a bit more critical thinking then Factless speculation-fueled nonsense.

Back to the Future of science and critical thinking

It's been a while here at the Shield since the last post took place. I won't go into a long diatribe on the where, when and why, just that after moving, having a second child and rearranging my life on some levels I finally pierced through the veil of the essential things that needed to be done and I am back on track with the hard questions and probing observations on the media, people and the world that surrounds us!

When I track back to my original post I see a continuation in my meanderings, a focus that seems to be present in what I have done, if so very little, so far. In any case, be sure to see more coming soon for The Shield still reflects Strength through transparency-Freedom through Doubt!