I was listening to NPR this morning on the way in to work.
Now your first question is probably, “Why are you, an upstanding, conservative, Texan listening to NPR?” The answer is that I have grown so used to listening to talk radio during my commutes that I find it hard listening to anything else. On a normal day I would listen to the local sports talk radio station but on the weekends they usually pipe in a Sporting News Radio feed that I have little interest in. So NPR is my fall back and I usually find it’s smug snobbery amusing.
Anyway, I’ve always been fasinated by the dumb things that people say, especially when said on TV or Radio – where you would think that people would be on their A game since they know they’re being recorded. There were two episodes that made me do an audio version of a double take.
The first was on the program “HumanKind” which is a very touchy-feely new-agey show. The guest was Rob Warden who has been an investigative journalist and now works for the Center On Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. He dedicates his time to exonerating wrongfully convicted felons (a worthy cause, no doubt). He described all of the different cases he’s worked on in the last thirty years and then the interviewer asked what percentage of prisoners are actually innocent of the charges that put them there. Rob said that it was generally believed about 5%, but that a new study posits that it could be as high as 10%, and that he believed that 10% was probably close to the correct number. Later on in the interview he said that in all of his years covering police investigations he had never seen a competent police investigation. That’s when I did the double take. So let me get this straight Rob. In your opinion there are no police investigations in the past 20 to 30 years that have been handled compentently and yet you agree that there only 10% of the prison population that are innocent? The cognitive dissonence in those two statements is astounding. Can you really believe that there are no competent police investigations and that only 10% of the prison population is innocent at the same time…I guess if you work for Northwestern.
The second was during an NPR news segment. They had a guy on from an Information Technology think tank and he was commenting on Obama’s SOTU statements about China’s, Germany’s and India’s economic and technological growth and how those countries weren’t playing for second place. Then the president said that he would not accept second place for America (cue applause)! Well this guys says, “…I think the president is right, we should not accept being second to none and right now we are second to none…” The funniest part about it to me was that the interviewer let this guy go on saying “second to none” (he said it four or five times) without correcting him – she just left him out there flapping in the wind. I guess think tanks are scraping from the bottom of the barrell these days.