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March 28, 2013

Double Post: "Scientists Warn of Ice Age" and
How Come The Media Isn't Looking For Institutional Villainy in a Sex Scandal in One of Their Own Institutions?

Headline at Germany's largest newspaper, Die Welt, which is German for "Greater Germany."

Unrelated but anyway: Why isn't the media drawing Larger Conclusions about the sex scandals at the Horace Mann private school in NYC?

Megan MacArdle notes that while the media is always willing to draw Larger Conclusions about institutions dominated by Others, they do not draw such conclusions about their own institutions:

What explains the difference? The obvious candidate is the demographics of columnists and academics who write about these things. Few of them are football players. Few of them are practicing Catholics (or social conservatives). But a fair number of them went to private school, or send their children there. Even if they are prone to question the institution as an institution, doing so would be awfully uncomfortable. And it might not do much for little Emily's chances at Brearley.

For the record, I don't think that private schools are somehow structurally or culturally hospitable to pedophiles in a way that public schools aren't. But it's worth asking why we were so sure that other institutions--ones we don't participate in--were somehow uniquely pedophile-friendly, rather than subject to the normal human instincts to give our colleagues the benefit of the doubt, and avoid scandal at any cost.

I would be more forgiving of this phenomenon -- that people are always willing to Believe the Worst about People Not Like Them -- in the media except for a couple of things.

First, the media is liberal. This means that, as liberals, they are always instructing others that we tend to be willing to Believe the Worst about People Not Like Us. That means they fully understand this basic rule of human nature -- but they do not think it applies to themselves. I suppose, being liberals, they've transcended basic human nature somehow. I suppose, for those in the media, the acquisition of a three-semester journalism degree also helped elevate them above the instincts common to all humanity.

Second, the media is liberal. That means that they are constantly applying this rule selectively to The Other... and are frequently criticized for it, and often wind up embarrassed by it, when their bias blows up in their faces. And yet still they take no actions whatsoever to correct this flaw, despite being well aware that it causes systematic errors in their reporting.

I believe the media is dumb, but I do not believe they're this dumb to not see how their low-primate pack-animal division of the world into Our Tribe and Their Tribe consistently produces wrong reportage, by giving Our Tribe too little suspicion and too much latitude while giving Their Tribe too much suspicion and too little latitude. But they're comfortable with that. Hey, as long as Our Tribe comes out on top.

Fen's Rule: Liberals actually believe none of the things they preach about.

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