Does TV Educate Or Entertain?
Television dominates the flow of information. However, it doesn’t educate. It’s not here to teach us the fundamentals. It’s not even here to report on current events. It’s here to entertain us. And for corporations, it’s an advertising avenue.
The news is after our money. Their purpose is to glue us to the screen long enough to build ratings so they can sell ads —which is their primary business. This business model, this profit motive, causes them to be biased. In fact, the news business isn’t the news business anymore. It has morphed into the media business.
In addition, the news likes to take things out of context and blow them up for their own political agenda. It will create controversial stories to gain viewers even when there is no controversy! They do this because putting someone down sells more than a positive story.
The news can’t be a boring educator with credible people calmly debating issues. People want to be entertained! So, the news supplies this demand and the ratings go up.
It’s us that decides en masse with millions of keystrokes and the clicks of our remotes who and what is shown. It’s us that votes for the charlatan instead of the scientist. It’s us — and the punditry and the press — who are responsible for dumbing us down.
TV Is The Enemy Of Reason
As television grows, reason is being pushed to the side. In fact, TV has become the enemy of reason! The media doesn’t check whether facts are real. A host isn’t judged by his command of the issue, but purely by whether he can move the ratings. We stopped rewarding intelligence with success. The more a host can move the ratings, the more he’ll be on TV. And the more he educates, the less he’ll be on TV.
In fact, a host is deemed more of an authority the less he knows about a given topic. Thus, he can make his decision by listening to the panelists. This gives him the air of being unbiased and fair.
In short, the uneducated are now favored over the educated. The potion seller over the informed. In fact, TV is the biggest seller of potions on the busiest street!
This potion dispensary has become the primary engine for validating ideas and people. It’s now a major instrument of influence. All someone needs is a book deal and they can be on TV. It doesn’t matter if the book is true or not. As long as it has a nice cover and the author has a suit, the book becomes “common sense” and the author becomes an expert, with or without expertise. Charles Pierce said it best, “A charlatan succeeds only in Idiot America.”
Once on TV, the charlatan becomes mainstream so fast that the previous quack disappears. However, if everyone can become an expert so fast, then nobody is! The worst thing you can be in a society where everyone is an expert is an actual expert.
TV & It’s Role With Democracy
Entertainment instead of education damages democracy. A free society needs the latter and not the former to govern itself. Lack of education leads to dysfunctional journalism that fails to inform people. And when the people aren’t informed, they can’t hold the government accountable when it’s incompetent or corrupt.
It’s not that there’s less information on television than there once was. It’s that there’s so much information that “fact” is now defined as “something believed by so many people that television notices their belief. And the truth is defined by how fervently people believe it,” said Pierce. In other words, TV has turned most of us into idiots.
Debates On TV
There‘s no empirical debates or discussions on TV anymore. All we have are shouting matches and loud tantrums — a battlefield!
On top of that, debates no longer consist of a for and against side moving forward to an educated, empirical and scientific conclusion. Instead, both sides lack the humility to accept that they’re wrong. This has stopped all important public discourses.
Even when we have debates, TV dumbs them down. A story about the unemployment rate is a story about whether we have a job instead of a story about the economy and the science behind the unemployment rate. A story about the national debt is a story about whether we can afford the interest payments on our house instead of a story about if the national debt is allowed to be at this level.
In other words, instead of an in-depth report by highly cited academics on the economy, we get two “pundits” who each wrote a book and will now scream at each other.
We don’t need to be credible to be on television anymore. We don’t even need to be informed or honest.
What’s worse than all that is that even after new evidence comes out and it’s reported on a couple of channels, all the other channels act like there is no new evidence. They just keep shouting and wailing the same old stories.
As Andrew Cline, Professor at Washington University, said:
Television is an emotional medium. It doesn’t do reason well. This is entertainment, not analysis or reasoned discourse. Never employ a tightly reasoned argument where a flaming sound bite will do. The argument of the academic is sort of dull, but a good pissing match is fun to watch. To admit anything more complicated is to invite the suggestion that you may be wrong, and that can never be.
Free yourself from this tyranny of consumer culture. Overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines and TV that has hypnotized us from our childhood. Stop buying potions from the charlatan!
I’m not saying we can’t trust the news corporations. I’m not saying the media is 100% false. I’m saying the media isn’t 100% true. And, that it’s not an avenue for education. I’m saying conduct your own research and use your intelligence.
If we want education the old time-tested advice remains true, we must read books. In fact, without a foundation based on books, we’re letting the news corporations brainwash us.
To your success,