Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mike Zazaian, Are You For Real?

Make sure you read the post, "Article From Tech Free Press" before reading this one. It should be located just below this one, but will eventually slip off the first page.

Okay, now that you have that out of the way. What do you think? Do you think the world's going to end? Well, the collider is online by now, so obviously the world isn't going to end. I posted this article as a demonstration of precisely what is wrong with news today. The point of checking a news outlet is so that the populace can know what is going on around the world.

What should we expect from the news? In my opinion, it should be a presentation of facts and not an attempt at drama. Of course, we're all people and we all have opinions and writer's are going put their biases in their news reports. I ask you what are the biases of this Mike Zazaian based on this article? What were your initial impressions of the article aside from the fact that he and his editor let a misspelling of the word "discrepencies" get past themselves, and of course, he uses the word "disasterous" twice.

Is that even a word? I'll give you a hint: No.

Of course, that's just my being picky about the lack of technical professionalism in the article and we're here to discuss the biases of the article. Why am I concerned with this? Obviously, because the article is stupid and treats you as though you're stupid. Granted, 95% of the people reading the article probably are stupid and take the it at face value, but that's another post altogether. Fortunately, my friends are not, and I can gripe with them here.

Anyway, I've already let it slip that I think the writer is solely going for an overly dramatic story. It is possible he thinks a story about a new supercollider is boring and he feels the need to spice it up. Honestly, supercolliders are boring. If you're not an egghead physicists into the very most up to date research, it's never going to affect you. Sorry, to disappoint everyone. It's the truth. Nothing this machine will ever do will ever affect anyone you know.

So what issues do I have with this article? Let's start with the beginning. It's in bold; it grabs our attention and such. It promises, "physicists express concern", and based on the title of the article, "World's Largest Supercollider Could Destroy the Universe", I can only assume that physicists are concerned that their work could destroy the universe.

However, let's take a closer look at the article. There are two quotes. The first is a press release from CERN that tells us what we don't know about the universe. Gee, what a surprise that we don't know everything about the universe. In a nutshell, this is why physicists want to perform these experiments with these big expensive machines, I'm glad the author reaffirmed this for us all. As I said, most people are stupid and need to be reminded that there are still mysteries in the universe. You know, like Bigfoot and Chupacabra.

Anyway, I'm still worried here. Our universe might end. So I read on to the second quote, where, AHHHHH! We get our promises of the title fulfilled and this Ran Livneh person tells us that some wacky shit might happen and we could all die.


What ever are we going to do?

But we pause, and we all say in unison, "Wait a minute. I was promised physicists were going to tell me the universe is going to end." (We all said that right?)

This Ran Livneh person is a software developer, not a physicist. Who is this person to tell us what any physicists would say? If this is true, how come Mike Zazaian isn't quoting a physicist?

Okay, I'll ruin the magic. It's because any physicist worth their salt will say that there is no chance that mini-big bangs and micro blackholes are going to get out of control and destroy the universe in a supercollider.

Sorry, I know it's not a very interesting story if we don't jazz it up a bit, but even a person as ignorant as me about physics (which I guess, isn't ignorant compared to the average person, but I am pretty ignorant as far as physicists go I assure you) knows that the energy of the collisions within a supercollider are so small compared to what goes on near a black hole or what went on during the big bang, it's not even going to register on the universe's radar. In fact, these collisons will probably be orders of magnitudes smaller than what goes on in the upper atmosphere of the earth from the radiation of the sun, so why is Mike Zazaian writing this article?

We all know why. Because Journalism is dead. It's all about wowing the reader. Getting them psyched up about reading the article, no matter how dumb it has to be made to do it. Journalism isn't about presenting information. There's little educational value in an article because the journalist generally has no idea what it is they are reporting on and has to jazz it up so apathetic readers like themselves can stay awake through the entire article.

Journalism is about entertainment and we all know sex and death sell. If only Mr. Zazaian could have made the supercollider sexy. I may not have noticed how dumb his article really was.

After looking through the site for a bit, I noticed quite a few of the articles were written by Mr. Zazaian and the site hasn't posted anything in over a year and a half. I suspect the site was a project of his and either he or it or both burned out. I was pretty tough on him in my criticisms, but I also feel that people need to be quite a bit more critical about what they're reading. I just happened to pick this article because it rated highly in my search. A lot of people get sucked into reading schlock with such titles. I read it because I knew from the title it would make good critical fodder. I had no idea it was such a cornucopia at the time.

Hopefully, within the next year and a half people will read this blog post and learn a little something about reading into the stuff they are reading.

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