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Cut a little deeper

I was a little bored by the prologue, introduction, and first chapter of It Ain't Necessarily So . As a critical analysis of the media, the book seems to be a bit too radically opinionated to me, as well as frustrating in its organizational structure and methods.

The three sections that I read were repetitive, continuously blaming the media for failing to put statistics in the news in the appropriate context for their audiences, but providing few suggestions for improvement beyond the typical 'stop it' and 'do the opposite.' Even after the authors admit that the press releases provided for journalists by businesses and other organizations can cause the problems they're exploring, they push the responsibility back onto journalists, offering a very general solution of "better reporting" (Murray, Schwartz, and Lichter 32).

Obviously, I haven't finished reading the book yet, so I can't pass final judgment -- but so far, I've found only a common sense analysis that doesn't really whet my appetite for further investigation. Not to mention, the one-sidedness irks me a bit.

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Chris, you're right -- the authors are more interested in pointing out the problems than in suggesting solutions, but that's because they aren't writing for journalism students -- they're writing for people who've been trained (by the media) to believe what the media presents. While most of the time journalists get it right, when it comes to science, and statistics in particular, even the best journalists can learn something from the warnings in this book.

I find it curious that none of the authors are journalists. Lichter and Schwartz have doctorates in political science and Murray has a Ph.D. in social anthropology. Nevertheless, they call themselves, "interested and observant outsiders."

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