Monday, December 12th, 2011

"Some Experts Say"

A wonderful example of the dying art of "newspaper objectivity." Gosh, it's a conflict! Some people think that staring at a screen instead of the road while driving might be less safe; some other people think that the number of accidents won't change if your state outlaws texting and emailing while driving. Thankfully we have been presented with both opinions and can now just sit here in silence.

17 Comments / Post A Comment

brianvan (#149)

I, for one, will not sit at home in silence, but will go outside to attempt the daredevil feat of crossing the street while a dozen inattentive drivers approach well above the speed limit.

freetzy (#7,018)

It wouldn't make the roads any safer only because police are too busy texting while driving to write tickets.

Flaneur (#998)

Drives me crazy, and I'm in the business. As with that Romney ad misusing Obama's comments about McCain's campaign: It was objectively taken out of context, but the straight news stories all had to couch it as "The Obama campaign says it was taken out of context." There is observable reality, and reporters should feel free to observe it. The cult of objectivity enables too many scoundrels to hide.

@Flaneur I've had this argument a few times with family members in the news business that “objectivity” often obscures the truth is situations by claiming that there are always two valid opposing arguments, because by squeezing reality into a pro/con both-opinions-are-valid schematic is in fact no longer objective because it forces a framework that might not be there at all.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@happymisanthrope Also: God forbid that a given issue can be looked at from more than two views. They wouldn't be opposing each other directly enough then, and thus not result in a heated enough argument, which in turn may result in the worst outcome of all: an actual resolution! How would anyone make any money in the news business, or politics for that matter, then? A socialist hell would ensue!

Astigmatism (#1,950)

"But two studies show traffic safety has not improved in states with bans on cellphone use and texting while driving, according to two studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which car insurance companies fund to research ways to reduce the number of traffic accidents.

'Lawmakers should not expect a big safety payoff from these laws,' said Russ Rader, the group’s spokesman. 'We’re just not seeing the effects we thought we would.'"

I clicked through to laugh at the silly Miami Herald for quoting fake science by dental practitioners to offer a "counterweight" to reputable, published, peer-reviewed studies by smart people who study this for a living, but this is kind of the opposite, in that the smart, experty people are saying the think you're mocking, while the thing you and everyone else are assuming based on common sense turns out to be just an assumption and apparently wrong.

Media: not quite failing to inform yet!

deepomega (#1,720)

@Astigmatism: Yeah, and honestly of all the organizations to get this study right, the IIHS actually has a vested financial interest in good data.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Astigmatism This. Faux objectivity of the "Earth flat or round: views differ" sort is maddening and ought to stop. But sometimes, views differ because the facts aren't really settled. This seems like one of those times.

deepomega (#1,720)

Isn't the real story here "Everybody loves texting bans, but there is no evidence that they make anyone safer"?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@deepomega Here is the story: if you are enough of an idiot to not fear death from texting while driving, you are enough of a dummy to not fear getting ticketed for it. I'm still for the ban, though. No such thing as too much tax on stupidity.

Moff (#28)

@Niko Bellic: PRECISELY.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Niko Bellic Am I the only one who thinks giving cops revenue collection duties is probably gonna lead to people getting shot?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@deepomega I suppose you could argue that thinking that if a traffic cop let's a texting driver go by he could use the extra few minutes to prevent a shooting is somehow more reasonable than thinking that extra revenue could help finance social (and law enforcement) programs that would prevent shootings. It would just smack of a bit too much of an ideological point of view not very popular among the rest of us here that yeah… you could very possibly be the only one.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Niko Bellic I don't like guys with guns and handcuffs being in charge of collecting taxes for the government, at their discretion. I'm not sure how anyone would think this is some sort of conservative point of view. The police have more than enough power, and creating laws whose sole outcome is collecting revenue makes this worse. Would you say the same thing about a smoking "tax" that was actually a traffic violation enforced by the cops, too?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@deepomega I'm not just talking out of my ass. In socialist countries of northern Europe, traffic violation fines are calculated based on the offender's total net worth. So, if a cop sees two different vehicles speeding, he will likely go after the more expensive one. Of course, Swedish or Finnish cops don't sound as scary as our "guys with guns and handcuffs" since they don't get to use those items as often (now why would that be?).

Moff (#28)

What they should do is put a whole bunch of reporters on one of those driving courses and make them all text nonstop while they drive around each other at high speeds. Even if that doesn't yield any solid scientific conclusions, I can see some good coming out of it.

Texting doesn't run over people. People run over people.

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