5 Things Media Wants Us To Fear
Modern media thrives off of controversy, hype and fear. People are more likely to tune in when a negative, scary news story lights up their television screens. Politicians thrive off of some of the same things. Agendas are driven by fear, crisis and emotional reactions. These are just five of the top things that media and politicians want us to fear the most.
From MSNBC telling you horror stories about the Koch brothers to Fox News telling you about the evil antics of George Soros, one message that's common in mainstream media is that you're supposed to fear exorbitantly rich white guys.
What's supposed to make these diabolical billionaires even more scary is their investments in political movements. Like the rest of us, these billionaires put their money into things that are important to them. The only difference is that they have more money than the rest of us, mostly because they've earned it. The Koch family invented a new method to refine oil and George Soros knows how money works and where to invest it for maximum return. According to media, when these billionaires donate to political causes like the rest of us, it means trouble. The Kochs invest in conservative and libertarian movements, while Soros invests in progressive and liberal movements. Both have been accused of using their wealth to control policies in Ottawa and Washington.
There is no doubt that money matters and the people who have the most also have more influence. In a democracy, this isn't as true as it might be in a textbook oligarchy. Undoubtedly, the super PACs and think tanks with the most money will have the widest audience, but that doesn't necessarily mean their audiences are buying what's being sold.
During the 2012 US presidential election, the Koch brothers put millions into Republican PACs, hosted fundraisers and donated to Mitt Romney's campaign. Mitt Romney went on to lose the election to Barack Obama. In 2003, George Soros made “removing George W. Bush from office” his main objective. Soros put millions into progressive think tanks and organizations like MoveOn.org and American Progress. Despite his efforts, George W. Bush went on to win the 2004 presidential election against John Kerry.
Another billionaire Americans are supposed to fear is Rupert Murdoch. Although his conservative Fox News network rakes in more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined, Democrats won the past two presidential elections and two of four congressional House elections since 2006.
Aurora, Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech. Those are familiar mass shootings in the United States. The foiled Halifax shooting in Canada is another one to add to the list. The times when guns and armed citizens have actually saved lives go mostly unmentioned by mainstream media. When Detroit's chief of police, James Craig, suggested that law abiding citizens should arm themselves, it should have caused controversy. It didn't, because US media barely made mention of it.
Conveniently, around the same time of Craig's suggestion in January of 2014, gun sales across America and Michigan were already soaring. By August of the same year, Detroit reported 37% fewer robberies and 30% fewer carjackings than the year before. Although there is no way to know how many criminals were actually deterred by armed citizens, Detroit's police chief didn't hesitate to attribute it to Detroit's soaring gun sales.
Statistically, higher gun ownership per capita doesn't result in higher gun violence and homicide. While gun sales have been soaring in the United States, violent crimes have been declining. The United States has the highest level of gun ownership in the world, but crime isn't rising. Venezuela and Honduras have only 5-10 guns per 100 citizens (compared to the US's 90 per citizen) and have five times more gun related homicides than the US. Statistics like this make it clear that guns aren't the real source of violent crime.
Americans and Canadians would be better served if their media focused on the real sociological causes of violence, like poverty and mass incarceration.
The recent media hype about anti-vaxxers has become as ridiculous as the anti-vax movement itself. Anti-vaxxers can be put in the same category as 9/11 truthers and people who believe that reptilian shapeshifters are trying to brainwash their children and barbeque their kittens. They're downright goofy and completely misinformed. However, to be fair, some of their fears are rooted in some truths. Furthermore, their existence poses no more of a threat to unvaccinated children than children who aren't vaccinated for medical reasons.
The thimerosal controversy is the basis for most anti-vaxxer nonsense. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that is harmful in large doses, but it was removed from most vaccines due to the controversy. By 2001, thimerosal was removed from most vaccines to improve public confidence in vaccination, even though studies linking thimerosal to autism had been thoroughly debunked. Tiny amounts of thimerosal can still be found in some flu and tetanus vaccines. Most vaccines still contain formaldehyde, which is toxic in large enough doses. Such ingredients help fuel the anti-vax movement, but without such preservatives, vaccination wouldn't be possible.
To give some credence to anti-vaxxer arguments, there have been studies showing a higher incidence of cancer among people who were given a contaminated batch of the polio vaccine between 1951 and 1961. But don't take my word for it. Read the scientific conclusion here. Aside from that, most vaccines are safe and have saved millions of lives worldwide.
At the end of the day, there are children who are too young to be vaccinated and children who have serious allergic reactions to vaccines. Unfortunately, these children pose the same threat to each other as the children of anti-vaxxers. It is true that a higher percentage of vaccinated adults and children would reduce the overall likelihood of disease, but unvaccinated children will always be at risk – with or without anti-vaxxers. In many cases, those who are vaccinated can still carry, transmit and get sick from viruses that they've been immunized against. Even the theory of herd immunity can't eliminate the considerable risk posed to those with weak immunity.
2. Climate Change
Although the media hype has slowed over the past few years, politicians and organizations still preach about the dangers of CO2. As the years have passed, the so-called science of Global Warming has unravelled and caused the public's faith to shrink. At the beginning of the 21st Century, no religious extremism was capable of topping the zealotry of Al Gore's Global Warming cult. Although a majority of North Americans believe that the Earth's climate is changing (as climates do), today only 46% think it can be blamed on human activity.
The media still engages in the very same tactics when it comes to humiliating and lampooning anyone who strays from what's supposed to be the commonly held belief. It's no different than other human behaviours throughout history. The lynch mobs have always wielded the power to influence majorities using fear. If you don't fear their cause, they'll make sure you fear them. Most journalists and scientists have witnessed the consequences of questioning climate change science, even when data has been directly tampered with. Over time, most end up choosing their careers over the truth.
Even after emails between top climate scientists were hacked and leaked, the media and several climate research groups that rely on government funding have worked to spin the damaging leaks and smear anyone who touts the emails as evidence of data manipulation. The emails revealed climate scientists bemoaning their inability to explain a lack of warming as a “travesty”. To make the emails even more damning, one scientist suggested that he had changed data to “hide the decline”.
“I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onward) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.”
Then, acting the opposite of innocent, they tried to hide their data manipulation and their own doubts about global warming by ensuring that their emails got deleted.
“Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He's not in at the moment – minor family crisis. Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?”
The emails also reveal the scientists' fantasies about beating up climate change deniers and their efforts to shun certain scientists and scientific journals that don't agree with them. The Telegraph's James Delingpole dissects the emails more thoroughly here. Feel free to read it yourself.
Anyone who refers to these emails will get a reply from a climate cultist that sounds something like, “Dude, those emails have been debunked. They were totally out of context and, like, every single scientist in the universe says climate skeptics are, like, totally distorting everything that was said in those emails. Global warming is totally real and I want to, like, totally punch you in the face right now.”
Even though more evidence of tampering has continued to surface, nothing seems capable of stopping the fear mongering. Whether global warming is real or not, there is a clear agenda to ensure that we believe humans are the cause. If humans are the cause, we can dole out endless amounts of taxpayer cash to climate research groups to fix the problem. We can tax carbon to put more money into government coffers and media can continue to spin climate change as an apocalyptic threat. The idea of being able to stop climate change creates a Hollywood-style narrative that includes bad guys, good guys and a happy ending.
Thirty years from now, climate scientists and media will pat themselves on the back and say, “See? Look. CO2 emissions are down 500% from 2015 and global warming has stopped. The Earth is back to normal. We've done it! We're saved.” Then media and scientific communities will work to concoct a new global threat. Maybe by 2045 it will be an invisible alien civilization that only scientists can see and that requires humans to adopt global communism in order to be accepted into some Galatic Federation Of Advanced Civilizations – or face war and annihilation.
The recent trend of denying that Islam is the source of ISIL is completely foolish and ignorant, but those who believe that all Muslims are terrorist sympathizers haven't met many Muslims. There's an important differentiation that's ignored by media when it comes to Islam and terrorism. When police shoot unarmed civilians, there are two extreme reactions. One side will generalize all police as the problem while another will deny that there is a problem at all. Both sides are wrong. The same happens when it comes to Islam and terrorism.
Watching or reading any conservative media source will leave you thinking that Islam is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. If you think liberal media has a different point of view, you're wrong. Both liberal and conservative media are guilty of ignoring the anti-terror sentiment expressed by millions of Muslims around the world. Liberal media may avoid using terrorist, jihad and Islam in the same sentence, but they know what religion is responsible for producing most of the militants and jihadists that are appearing in headlines– and they know that you know. These same televised liberal culprits are the ones that refuse to show you thousands of Muslims protesting against terrorism on European streets. Clips of such protests can mostly be found on blogs and alternative internet news sites – not on CNN, Fox News or Canadian news programs.
When ISIS called for uprisings around the world, Canada saw one gunman storm parliament in October 2014. The next big news story in Canada involved a foiled mass shooting – organized by young, white neo-nazi goths. Before the Ottawa shooting, an armed Christian went on a shooting rampage in Moncton.
There is no question that the Islamic State operating in the Middle East is a threat. There's also no doubt that Islam is at the root of the movement's core beliefs. But there's no reason to believe that all or most Muslims condone the Islamic State's actions. It is true that up to 1000 Danish Muslims attended the funeral of the Copenhagen gunman, but the 1000 who attended only represented 0.4% of Denmark's 210,000 Muslims. Many who attended the funeral also came from elsewhere. Although 1000 is an alarming number, most of us don't apply the same generalizations when talking about other religious or cultural extremists. When an extremist Christian movement called The Army Of God took responsibility for the Olympic Park bombing of 1996 (and various other attacks), there wasn't a willingness to generalize all Christians. When widespread child abuse was uncovered within Catholic establishments, there wasn't a willingness to generalize all Catholics as pedophile sympathizers because they didn't rise up in protest.
Just like extremist Muslims, many other religious extremists have used verses from their own holy books to justify acts of violence. Often times, such verses are taken literally and out of context by latent psychopaths who are looking for excuses to kill. We seldom – if ever – expect one billion Christians, Catholics or Atheists to fill our streets in protest when someone under their banner commits a series of crimes. Muslims make up 23% of the world's population, but they're still outnumbered by Christians of all denominations and by Hindus, Buddhists and people who don't identify with any religion. In comparison, a majority of the world's homicides are still committed by non-Muslims.
The last reliable estimate puts ISIL's membership at 200,000, or 0.01% of the global Muslim population. A recent Pew survey found growing concern about extremist violence in Islamic countries, like Lebanon, where 90% surveyed fear that extremist violence will spread to their country. When we mute the lopsided narrative and take a look at the facts, we see a majority of Muslims who are just as outraged and horrified as the rest of us.