Monday, September 17, 2007

Mark Shea falls victim to the disease that he's diagnosing

So I check Mark Shea's blog daily. OK, several times a day. He's got great stuff and I appreciate his sense of humor. In fact, I get a bit bummed when he doesn't have the time to post. He reads a ton on the 'net and lots of folks email him stuff so his site is a great nexus. He posted a nice article from today that he wrote. On this article, I have a point of contention though. In order to point out how biased the media is about Pope Benedict XVI, he did a number of Google searches about him, like "Benedict XVI" rigid, and recorded the number of hits. So if lot's of folks think Pope B XVI is a rigid sort of guy, then there would be lots of hits. One problem, he did this for Google, so that's the entire Internet, not just what the LA Times or NY Post think of him. It's all the random left wing bloggers, all the whacked-out Fundies who think Jack Chick has a true vision, and all the random pages with lists of search terms hoping to catch traffic. All it would have taken would be to click the "News" link on the top of the Google search page to get an idea of how often that set of words was used by media types. Of course, the numbers given would have been much smaller, but a true indication of how prevalent those terms are used by the media, not the 'net. OK, I think I've beat the Internet <> Media drum. There's another issue that I have with this. He never gives those numbers any context by comparing them to searches that would be considered kind. So, no listing of how many hits "Benedict XVI" loving would show. In fact, that search gave more hits than the top one on his list. So going by the logic that he presents, there's more a feeling that the Pope is loving among the media than a feeling that he is rigid, more than he's "cracking down" on anything, in fact. Clicking on the "News" link here again gives a similar ratio of hits, although the numbers are much less impressive.
So what's the point? Isn't it OK for Mark to take a bit of license? I mean, I'm saying that the ratios don't change when we go from searching the whole 'net versus searching news articles, so he's not really twisting anything or presenting false info, right?
OK, technically, he's not lying or anything, but the gist of his article is about how unbelievably dumb the media is about religion. His reason? "
They huddle together in packs, quoting each other and loading up their computers with macros that spit out the required text without their having to fire a single neuron to write it." Uhm, Mark, isn't that what you kinda-sorta did here? You took some Google hit numbers out of context, and they were the wrong numbers, by the way, and then said that they proved something that they didn't prove. I agree totally with the rest of your article, but using the Google examples as support only weakens your point and shows you as guilty of the very same slovenly approach to information that you are accusing the media of taking.
I wrote him an email about it, don't know if he'll respond. Busy guy that Mark. I pray he's really, really busy, doing things that bring him mucho $$ and that the Providence of God is shown again in his life.

PS. I didn't know that this would get picked up by Technorati. My apologies if this seems a bit mean. I have the utmost regard for Mark. I even tipped him (too bad I'm a lousy tipper).

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