Desperation

Okay, so I’m sucking at trying to maintain two different blogs so far. Occasionally, though, I come up with an idea I think I can share across the two formats. Here is one of them.

http://depressionlighthouse.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/desperation/

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The Absolute Last Post You Will See Here About Doug Phillips

Okay, I get it. Doug Phillips was a bad dude. The stuff that came out public concerning his affair and how that related to his Doug-Phillipsresignation from Vision Forum Ministries was just the tip of the iceberg. The affair that he claimed did not involve knowing a woman “in a biblical sense” actually probably involved just that. There was a weird gap between when he stepped down as an elder at his church and when he stepped down from Vision Forum. He was cocky and arrogant. He may have exaggerated his accomplishments. And, in the end, he alienated some of his closest friends and allies.

Really, I get all that. Now let me say this: People, get over it and move on with your lives.

Ever since I wrote a post titled Common To Every Manthis site has attracted readers looking for information on Doug Phillips. My top post from the past week was basically just a link to an article WORLD Magazine wrote on Phillips; I barely even wrote anything myself. I only wrote the first post to express a sense of caution I think every man ought to employ in realizing that none of us should ever be arrogant enough to believe we are safe from the type of fall Phillips experienced. I believe his is a cautionary tale, and I only shared the WORLD article because I respected the manner in which it was written.

This is not a Doug Phillips-related blog site. If news is reported, I’ll read it, but I’m not going to share any more links. It’s bothersome to me how many people seem to be trolling WordPress looking for information about this man. Maybe people are still trying to figure the whole thing out. Maybe they’re still disappointed. Maybe they’re intent on feeding their negative feelings toward him. Maybe they just like to gossip.

Whatever the case may be, I’m out. It was an awful affair (no pun intended), and it hurt a lot of people. It may have even shaken the faith of a great many. There are other more pressing matters worth our time, though. Love your families. Follow your passions. Read edifying things. I don’t know, go outside or something. There’s no point in beating this thing to death anymore.

Keep praying for Doug Phillips. That is all.

Dig A Little Deeper

Eating too many carrots can cause infertility in men. This astonishing finding was recently revealed by Dr. Henry Slevin of the carrots-pf-lgInstitute for Vegetable Studies in Butler, Wyoming. The study, titled “Excessive Consumption of Raw Vegetables and the Side Effects of Said Consumption,” was presented during a nutrition conference in Bangor, Missouri, last month. In it, Dr. Slevin outlined the unintended side effects of consuming a number of vegetables, but it was his finding on carrots that drew the most attention.

All of the preceding paragraph is true… Well, except the part about the carrots. And there’s no Institute for Vegetable Studies, which, consequently, means there’s no Dr. Henry Slevin that works there. It wouldn’t really matter anyway, though, because there’s no Butler, Wyoming, for it to be located in. And if there’s no Dr. Slevin, there’s obviously no study on the excessive consumption of raw vegetables, which would also mean it was never presented at any conference, which would be just as well, since there’s no such place as Bangor, Missouri.

I’m nearly positive, though, that if I carried on with what I was saying, someone would believe me. Someone would stumble across my blog, somehow link their fertility issues to eating too many carrots, share the link on Facebook and Twitter, and make this thing go viral. If I did a really good job, it might even merit its own Snopes.com entry. And not a word of it would have been true. Not a single word.

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)I say all this because I’m beginning to be very bothered by how there seems to be an article floating around on the internet to back up whatever belief or preference I have concerning a certain subject. For every article chastising parents for not vaccinating their children, there exists an article linking childhood vaccinations to all sorts of ills. For every article on how President Barack Obama has caused the national deficit to skyrocket, there exists an article showing how he has drastically reduced government spending. And as this past week concluded, I was treated to equal numbers of articles proclaiming Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest peacemakers of our time and, alternatively, someone who’s more questionable deeds and philosophies have been conveniently forgotten.

We all have our soap boxes. Just today, I was torturing my poor wife by making her listen to my views on why increasing the minimum wage wouldn’t be such a great idea. We’re all passionate about things. At what point, though, does our passion make us prey to those who live simply to self-promote? At what point does our desire to prove we are right supersede our critical thinking abilities? At what point do we allow for alternative views rather than simply cherry-picking bits and pieces to prop up our own philosophies?

I wouldn’t label myself an expert on journalism, but I did learn one thing from my years of working as a newspaper reporter: Never accept something as fact without verified attribution. If I’m reading an article and it says, “Studies show…”, I immediately want to know what studies and who conducted these studies and what is the reliability of those dispensing the information. Woodward and Bernstein may have had their Deep Throat, but if the paper trail didn’t lead anywhere, Nixon would probably still be in office.

Here’s what I think is happening and what I think needs to happen: We are destroying discourse by simply searching out the information we agree with, and we desperately need to begin to dig deeper when it comes to what is fed to us. I appreciate good arguments, but I worry when we live in a world when all I have to do is open up my web browser to find an article to support my position. I don’t even have to do any research; some man or woman has already told my why I’m right. Link … share … done.

If you’re someone who does believe strongly in a cause or position, by all means, don’t stop sounding the alarm. I greatly respect the independent pursuit of knowledge and the benefits it yields. This is how the world is changed. If you’re someone regurgitating the party line, though, it’s time for you to get informed. Why do you believe what you believe? Stand ready to make your arguments, and don’t rely on someone else to do it for you. If you’re going to die on a hill, bring your own ammo to the fight.

Now that I’ve got all that off my chest, I’m going to get a mug of coffee. By the way, did you know drinking too much coffee can kill you? Or is it that drinking lots of coffee will help you live longer? I should probably look that up…

That’s Just Not True

I am several years removed now from being a “professional journalist.” Granted, my stint among the ranks of the fourth estate was relatively short and certainly didn’t cause any regimes to crumble, but I did write stories for a newspaper and I did get paid for it, so I’m not inaccurate in applying those two words to myself. And even though my experience took place in a small-town newspaper, I would still like to think I picked up a few things about how to conduct yourself as a journalist.

The term “journalist” is becoming harder and harder to define, as these days it can refer to anything from a television reporter to a newspaper writer to some dude who writes a blog out of his basement. As a result, journalistic standards have, to put it mildly, tanked in the last few years. The really disappointing aspect of this is how major news networks have stooped to employing tactics which should not only be beneath them but should generally be off limits to anyone purporting to report the news. This can range from sensationalism to shoddy fact checking to glaring bias to … well, you get the point.

One of my personal pet peeves is when a journalist does not have his or her references in order. In print, this is easy to spot. Anytime I see the words “studies show” or “many believe” or any implication of hard data, I demand (in my head anyway) to see some validation of those phrases, whether that’s in the form of a survey or a random sample or something to prove the information wasn’t just plucked out of the air based on hearsay. With video, though, the problem becomes even worse, as the opportunity for exposition is stunted by the time constraints of staying on a television schedule. A television reporter or anchor may be legitimately unprepared to make an argument based on actual data, but they can often mask this fact by controlling how the news is presented.

A prime example of what I’m talking about occurred yesterday (Or, at least, I think it was yesterday. That’s the dateline I keep finding on this story. None of the entries I’ve read has the date this occurred anywhere in the stories themselves. Grrrr…) as CNN anchor Carol Costello decided to abruptly end an on-air interview with American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer. Fischer was on the network via telephone to discuss why the AFA objected to Mix It Up at Lunch Day (which you can read more about here).

Fischer and the AFA contend Mix It Up at Lunch Day is designed to promote acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle through the public school system. The discussion quickly veered into Fischer’s own beliefs concerning homosexuality (which include some interesting thoughts on Hitler), with Costello very obviously establishing her disagreement with her guest. The interview came to a sudden stop, however, when Fischer attempted to discuss the “known health risks” of a homosexual lifestyle.

“I’m going to end this interview right here, because that’s just not true,” Costello said. “I’m sorry, that’s just not true. Mr. Fischer, thanks for sharing your views, I guess.”

Costello made instant headlines with her actions, being portrayed for the most part as a courageous journalist who stood up to an unreasonable interview subject. Only one problem, though: She wasn’t correct.

I am not out to begin a debate on whether or not the homosexual lifestyle is “right” or not. What I want to focus on here is whether or not what Fischer stated was “just not true” or if it had some validity to it. Costello did not cite any sources or data when she cut Fischer off, and Fischer was not allowed to give any detail on what these “known health risks” are, so we are presented with a situation where a journalist left her viewers in the lurch concerning the facts of the situation.

Here are just a few quotes I found on the Internet concerning homosexual relations and health risks:

  • “Homosexual men are at significantly increased risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, anal cancer, gonorrhea and gastrointestinal infections as a result of their sexual practices. Women who have sex with women are at significantly increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer than are heterosexual women.” – Medical Institute for Sexual Health
  • According to the homosexual newspaper The Washington Blade: “A San Francisco study of Gay and bisexual men revealed that HPV infection was almost universal among HIV-positive men, and that 60 percent of HIV-negative men carried HPV.”
  • At the recent Fourth International AIDS Malignancy Conference at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Andrew Grulich announced that “most instances of anal cancer are caused by a cancer-causing strain of HPV through receptive anal intercourse. HPV infects over 90 percent of HIV-positive gay men and 65 percent of HIV-negative gay men, according to a number of recent studies.”
  • “As with most forms of sexual interaction, anal sex participants risk contracting sexually transmitted diseases; anal sex is considered a high-risk sexual practice because of the vulnerability of the anus and rectum. The anal and rectal tissues are delicate and do not provide natural lubrication, so they can easily tear and permit disease transmission, especially if lubricant is not used. Unprotected anal sex is considered the riskiest form of sexual intercourse…” – Wikipedia

I’m not going to go on and on about this. The point is there exists significant data stating that homosexual sex can indeed have health ramifications. Now, perhaps Costello assumed Fischer meant homosexual sex could have an impact on the society at large and objected to that theory. Maybe she was trying to make the point that only certain types of homosexual sex carry risk. If she did have a legitimate argument with Fischer’s statement, however, she failed to make it, favoring instead to simply cut him off in mid-sentence.

Again, I’m trying to focus more on the job being done here than the issue at large. In my opinion, this is very sloppy journalism not only on the part of Costello, but also on the part of CNN. It’s obvious from the word go Costello did not agree with what Fischer was going to say. If the AFA’s position was so offensive, why did she agree to the interview in the first place? If you’re going to give someone a platform, they should be treated with some level of objectivity, which clearly didn’t happen here. It almost seemed as if the whole interview had been set up just to present Costello with the chance to hang up on Fischer.

The sad thing is, because of the intense public feelings on this issue, Costello is being hailed today as some type of journalistic hero by outlets such as The Huffington Post. Whatever you may think of her politics, she certainly put the new school of journalism on display. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t true.