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March 07, 2007

Media equivalence

I want to create a new term, media equivalence, for debates about the problems of civilization, technology and society. We currently have the term moral equivalence

From wikipedia, moral equivalence is a term used in political debate, usually to characterize in a negative way the claim that there can be no moral or ethical hierarchy decided between two sides in a conflict, nor in the actions or tactics of the two sides.

I propose that media equivalence be used when discussing the major problems of civilization, technology and society that it characterize in a negative way the claim that problems that are currently receiving airplay in the media are somehow equivalent to major problems (or are incorrectly linked as relevant to aspects of the debate because it is a top of the mind problem) of civilization, technology and society.

An example would be when one is talking about the sources of global electrical energy and the societal and global problem of air pollution which kills 3 million people per year (world health organization source). 85% of the global electrical power comes from fossil fuels. Someone could bring up a complaint against nuclear energy as a solution that they do not trust the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC will regulate and monitor the nuclear industry with the same assiduous attention to detail as the Army used at Walter Reed.
Note: the actual referenced discussion is paraphrased.

The Walter Reed incident being a current media scandal in 2007. However, this incident of some hospital rooms being in bad repair and having some cleanliness issues is nowhere near the same scale of the societal problem being discussed. No proven linkages to actual deaths caused.

The entire Iraq War is actually a much smaller problem than societal energy choices as well by many measures.

1. Iraq War is in many ways a by-product of historical energy choices.
2. Far fewer deaths per year than air pollution.
3. Likely fewer long term effects.
4. No potential for global climate change.

Walter Reed is a very small incident related to a smaller problem.

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