Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anatomy of a Media Bias Poll

As you can imagine, I get a lot of "media bias" experts reading my blog. This one's for them.

Recently, a study came out that showed McCain had far more negative coverage than Obama. "That proves it!" I said. "Liberal media bias!"
"Not so fast," they said. "The coverage was negative because McCain's campaign wasn't doing well."
So let me get this straight: to gauge media bias, someone counted how many positive and negative stories were written about each candidate? Am I the only one that sees the uselessness of this study?

For all my media bias expert friends, let me tell you how to put together a "media bias" study:

Determine how an organization reports, or fails to report, similar situations of candidates of both parties. If they don't report the same way for each party, there may be bias.

If McCain is closing in on Obama, but he is still down, do they report, "McCain down 3" or is it "McCain closing the gap" or "Voters moving to McCain." Do they report it differently for each candidate? If so, there may be bias.

If two candidates are inexperienced, is their inexperience lampooned equally in the editorial pages? Is it reported equally? If not, there may be bias.

If two candidates (or spouses) have done drugs, is it reported the same? If not, there may be bias.

Are unsubstantiated rumors about both candidates given the same amount of attention? If not, there may be bias.

If, after answering these questions and more, you determine that there is a pattern of reporting similar situations differently (e.g. with either a positive or negative slant), then you have proven that there is media bias.

Has no one done this study? (If it has been done, has it been reported?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Judgement Day Is Nothing Like An Ice Cream Sunday

We learned in yesterday's priesthood lesson about the degrees of glory we may receive when we are resurrected. The teacher asked if those who did not receive celestial glory would forever be in torment. I suggested they would not. I believe that everyone will receive the glory, and corresponding existence, they truly want. As Moroni said concerning those who did not believe in Christ, "Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell."

I believe we will receive the glory of the law we are willing to live.

It is true, we may torment ourselves in this life and in the next, as we prepare for judgement and consider the joys we may have attained and the Father we rejected. But come judgement, I believe everyone will be satisfied with their final lot.

In church, I gave a much shorter answer than that, but that was the gist.

Then another guy raised his hand, who likes ice cream a lot more than I.

"Hank," he asked. "What's your favorite ice cream?"

"I don't know. Maybe chocolate."

"With hot fudge?"

"I guess."

"How would you feel if I was sitting here eating chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, and you had plain old vanilla?"

And I thought to myself, "I wouldn't care, no, not one bit. But you shouldn't be eating ice cream in the primary room."

The judgement of God is not like ice cream. The atonement is not like a pickle.

My weakness is that I don't appreciate these types of simple analogies, while those who are newer to our faith and struggle with the concepts find them very helpful. While I was rolling my eyes, a gentleman at the front of the class said, "What that brother said, that was right on." And I knew he wasn't talking about me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No such thing as a mustard tree?

In Matthew 13, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, "but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

(Jesus also likened faith to a mustard seed, but didn't talk about it turning into a tree.)

So has anyone ever seen a mustard tree? A Google search turned up a number of Oak Trees, and this picture of a guy standing next to... a bush.

So why did Christ say the mustard seed grows into a tree?

One explanation is that the growth of the kingdom of heaven is miraculous, growing beyond what would be expected.

Another might be that Christ was talking about a large mustard bush that could handle birds.

I like the former explanation, but who knows for sure?

Let me know if you have a better idea.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nurture vs. Nature

I'm not a big fan of bathroom humor. Most fart jokes, poo jokes, etc. etc. just make me groan. Mari, being the decent woman she is, has never passed gas in her life.

So we were very surprised the other day when Des passed gas then looked at us and laughed. I didn't teach him to laugh at farts-he just instinctively knew it was funny.

So why is bathroom humor instinctively funny? And if it is natural to find it funny, should we really be unlearning the funniness of it as we grow older? Should the rules of etiquette be revised to account for what seems to be a natural an irrevocable law that bathroom humor is funny from birth?