Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Laughing at The New York Times 

Friday's New York Times has two laughable, hilarious, roll-on-the-floor headlines. First, it says that "Ohio recount gives a smaller margin to Bush." How much smaller?
The recount, conducted over the past three weeks, showed that Mr. Bush won Ohio by 118,457 votes. Most county elections officials completed their recounts last week, but the state had to wait for Lucas County, where Toledo is located, to complete its tally. Lucas County reported the results of its recount on Tuesday.

The secretary of state's office had earlier reported that Mr. Bush won Ohio by 118,775 votes and plans to record the newest tally officially later this week.

The 318 vote reduction in Bush's margin amounts to 0.0058% of the total vote case in Ohio, and 0.27% of the size of the margin of Bush's victory. Both of these percentages are so miniscule that they are far within the margin of error of the recount. So while it is literally true that the recount gave "a smaller margin" to Bush, the change was so slight and so meaningless statistically that it is ridiculous for the Times to have framed the story this way. The real story is that the recount in Ohio revealed substantially no change in Bush's margin of victory.

You might even say that this headline is true, but inaccurate.

But that's not all.

The Times slapped the headline "The Year The Earth Fought Back" over Simon Winchester's op-ed article about plate tectonics, and the possibility that this year's spate of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are part of a cascade of linked events.
Given these cascades of disasters past and present, one can only wonder: might there be some kind of butterfly effect, latent and deadly, lying out in the seismic world? There is of course no hard scientific truth - no firm certainty that a rupture on a tectonic boundary in the western Pacific (in Honshu, say) can lead directly to a break in a boundary in the eastern Pacific (in Parkfield), or another in the eastern Indian ocean (off Sumatra, say). But anecdotally, as this year has so tragically shown, there is evidence aplenty.

Plate tectonics as a science is less than 40 years old. It is possible that common sense suggests what science has yet to confirm: that the movement among the world's tectonic plates may be one part of enormous dynamic system, with effects of one plate's shifting more likely than not to spread far, far away, quite possibly clear across the surface of the globe.

Winchester makes passing reference to the Gaia Theory, which holds that the earth is an eternal living organism, but he never suggests (as Gaia lunatics propose) that the planet has some sort of consciousness that is visiting retaliation for man's environmental depredations. The idea that the earth "fights back" reflects the liberal guilt of a newspaper that serves the most physically unnatural city on the planet. If the Times readers believe that the earth really does "fight back," and I do not doubt for an instant that many of them do, why are they living on a densely populated slab of bedrock almost entirely covered in concrete?


By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Wed Dec 29, 11:22:00 AM:

The Gaia school is interesting only when they discuss the earth as one unified system. The whole 'Earth consciousness' thing sounds like a spiritual matter that calls for consulting with a druid. However, to suggest that anything on earth doesn't affect everything else is the naive view.

I heard that Gaia fellow on BBC's The World, and he was very careful about trying to stay in the realm of the provable. The interviewer really wanted him to say that the earth spirits are angry.

Yeah, the recount was a non-story, but the voter fraud story isn't going to go away...  

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