Friday, May 01, 2009
Jon Stewart & John Ellis & LHC
The Daily Show has shown a bitterfully funny caricature of the methods how the media love to manipulate with the public perception of science these days.
The journalist, John Oliver, attempted to picture the LHC scientists as untrustworthy jerks. The main victim was John Ellis, the second most widely cited high-energy physicist after Edward Witten (48,000). He is quite a character - but an extremely serious scientist, too. The journalist did the best he could to show that Ellis didn't even know what a Kelvin degree was. ;-)
On the other hand, Walter Wagner, the advocate of the idea that there is a 50% risk that the LHC will destroy the world, was shown in his suit and in shining colors. He is a true expert: in fact, he was even allowed to work as a high school teacher for a while!
The punch line of the show was truly symptomatic. The horny journalist proposed Walter Wagner to save the humanity by penetrating his a****** - a plan that was estimated to have a 50% chance to succeed, too. Mr Wagner politely rejected the offer.
But the journalists have clearly been offering the very same thing to the a******s of P.W., L.S., James Hansen, and other people whose approaches to science, the "sins" of the scientific industrial civilization, the catastrophic future, and the media have resembled those of Mr Wagner for many years.
I am not sure whether a smiling face would be fully appropriate here because this fact is unfortunately damn real and very consequential, too. My feelings are very mixed: it is no longer the type of humor that I can happily and spontaneously laugh about - even though, in this particular case, I am certain that the Daily Show is actually on the same side as I am (not only because of the very last sentence).
By the way, the LHC magnets have already been fixed; see also Tommaso Dorigo's blog.
Hat tip: Cosmic Variance