Monday, December 03, 2007

A pro/con sham

On Sunday, the San Antonio Express-News ran a canned editorial feature on its Views section front about clean air legislation under a pro/con format. They didn’t post it online, but it is essentially the same as what ran in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch a week earlier.

Here is the thing that always galls me about this - They get a reknowned scientist who is an expert in this field to write an op-ed piece, in this case it is Michael E. Kraft, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Then they turn around and for the con view do they get another academic whose studies have pointed to an opposite conclusion? No. They get some right-wing hack from a “conservative think tank” to review the article and then pen a rebuttal.
That always seems to be the pattern. For the “liberal” side you have a dispassionate academic and/or scientist applying their research to real world situations, and for the “conservative” side they go to an ideological warrior, funded by the oil industry, with no real expertise in anything but churning out propaganda and disinformation.
While I am glad to have the intelligent person who actually has a clue on my side, this is still not a fair fight in that they are pitting apples against oranges. The academic is not being paid to push a specific agenda like the "think tanker" and thus doesn't always come across as having the slam-dunk answer to everything. So people who don't know any better at best walk away thinking the two sides are equally correct when there is really no comparison.

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