NPR -getting harder to listen to opinion shows

  • #1
FlexGunship
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Oh my science... I literally can't turn NPR on anymore during lunch. The opinion shows have turned to pure garage. Usually the Diane Rehm Show is on when I go to lunch, and it's never her guests that are the problem, it's her and the absurd callers. Worse still, the guest on the show almost NEVER calls anyone to task for being such an idiot.

I sometimes make a Google+ post (or Buzz) about something particularly stupid I hear, so here are a few real winners:

Topic: Rising Cost of Oil - A caller asks: "one of the reasons why oil is so expensive is becasue they build such huge refineries. If we all just had a small refinery at home then we could purchase the crude ourselves and make gasoline without the middle man. Why aren't these home refineries available?"

There's so much wrong with this. The economy of scale drives DOWN the cost of products. Furthermore, do you know how difficult it is to refine crude into gasoline?! The byproducts alone would kill you in a week if an explosion doesn't get you sooner.

Topic: Plastic in the Pacific Ocean - A caller says: "I've been as much as 50 miles off the coast of Cape Cod and I've never seen a big patch of plastic in the ocean."

Okay, wrong ocean... and he never mentioned a "patch of plastic." I can just imagine the caller standing in his kitchen with a smug look on his face and his hands on his hips.

Topic: Plastic in the Pacific Ocean - A caller asks if we're going to have to start filtering our drinking water because there's so much plastic in the Pacific Ocean.

I actually turned off the radio at this point. Have you been known to drink a lot of sea water? Even fresh water goes through an incredible amount of filtering and treatment before it gets to you. Desalination plants don't even generate drinking water, do they? And if they do, I'm sure it's CLEAN! It's not like the filtering process is ONLY going to leave chunks of plastic in your water. There's sewage in the ocean and you're worried about plastic?

Topic: Reducing Emission in Cars - A caller suggests we go back to the "simpler engines" of the 60s because he doesn't remember there ever being emissions problems with his Dodge Dart. The cause of all the problems must be the electronics they put in new cars.

No comment.

Topic: Air Travel Safety - A caller calls for no other reason to scold everyone for flying as a form of travel... in defiance of her god. She goes on to claim that 9/11 was punishment for human flight before she is disconnected.

Meh... maybe. I've heard crazier...

Topic: The Internet (and specifically infrastructure) - A caller suggests that the internet is just a fad and that once enough people get ripped off by having their credit card numbers stolen it'll go away. "There's no reason to worry about internet infrastructure, we won't need it in 20 years."

What do you say to a person in such strong denial? I imagine she lived in a cabin in the woods and still believes the telephone is a fad.


Anyone else listen to this stuff? It's been getting progressively worse and worse.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Evo
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That's pretty bad.
 
  • #3
FlexGunship
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That's pretty bad.

The two worst things about it are (1) the guest on the show never just says "oh, that's a really stupid thing you just said," and (2) these people can probably vote.
 
  • #4
Evo
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The two worst things about it are (1) the guest on the show never just says "oh, that's a really stupid thing you just said," and (2) these people can probably vote.
#2 Is what really scares me.
 
  • #5
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Topic: The Internet (and specifically infrastructure) - A caller suggests that the internet is just a fad and that once enough people get ripped off by having their credit card numbers stolen it'll go away. "There's no reason to worry about internet infrastructure, we won't need it in 20 years."

How can a radio show host respond to that without telling the person that they are wrong, and still maintain an ounce of credibility?
 
  • #6
FlexGunship
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#2 Is what really scares me.

If you get a chance, listen to the Diane Rehm show tomorrow. Here, in NH, it's on from 11 of the clock to noon of the clock.

Today, Diane had something to say about glass... I haven't the faintest idea what it was. Her guest was raising concerns about plastic in the ocean, and she says: "What about glass?" That was her entire question... her guest was caught a little off guard and went on to say that glass is more expensive than plastic, and it creates dangerous fragments if it's dropped, it's made from silicon (technically silicon dioxide)... basically just looking for anything to say about it.

How can a radio show host respond to that without telling the person that they are wrong, and still maintain an ounce of credibility?

To be fair, Diane Rehm is older than the star that went supernova and created the atomic copper from which wires today are made on the recently (from her perspective) cooled Earth.

Diane Rehm is old, is what I'm getting at. Her guest on the other hand certainly should have slapped that caller down. For sure.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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the guest on the show never just says "oh, that's a really stupid thing you just said,

I was once listening to an interview of singer Monica Mancini, who is composer Henry Mancini's daughter. She was asked, "One thing I just gotta know - in Moon River, what on earth is a huckleberry friend?" She replied, "I think you'll have to ask Johnny Mercer's daughter that."

(For those of you born after 1975, Johnny Mercer was the lyricist)
 
  • #8
D H
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I don't quite know why NPR is trying to emulate right wing talk radio. Right wing talk radio makes right wingers look real dumb. All that NPR has proven here is that left wing talk radio makes left wingers look just as dumb as their right wing counterparts. Nobody seems to have grasped the simple rule that giving a million people a voice doesn't add necessarily add one iota to the quality of the dialog.

They should have just asked us at PF to do the math for them. It's real simple math:

1,000,000 × 0 = __________
 
  • #9
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At least you can still get fair news from NPR during the news hours. I don't listen to DR anymore, but I used to. She used to be good... she wouldn't let her callers or her guests get away with anything. But I presume she's better at non-scientific studies. She should stick to policies and governmental issues rather than anything too technical. Typically, there's never enough time in any news show to go over what needs to be said in order to make an accurate statement about anything scientific.
 
  • #10
DoggerDan
I like this show: http://www.npr.org/2011/11/01/141803766/interrupting-violence-with-the-message-dont-shoot

I heard it this afternoon while driving home from the mountains. "In Cincinnati, for example, there are about 60 defined gang groups with about 1,500 members. [The people] representing less than half a percentage point of the city's population are associated with 75 percent of all of Cincinnati's killings," he says. "And no matter where you go, that's the fact."

So, if just ten percent of the entire population stood up against them, the gangs would be outnumbered 20:1. If you're interested, you ought to read what they did to combat the problem.

It proved effective.
 
  • #11
Astronuc
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I don't quite know why NPR is trying to emulate right wing talk radio. Right wing talk radio makes right wingers look real dumb. All that NPR has proven here is that left wing talk radio makes left wingers look just as dumb as their right wing counterparts. Nobody seems to have grasped the simple rule that giving a million people a voice doesn't add necessarily add one iota to the quality of the dialog.

They should have just asked us at PF to do the math for them. It's real simple math:

1,000,000 × 0 = __________
I tend not to listen to talk radio shows simply because not the brightest folks call in with an opinion, and it seems the same people call in regular to share their lack of wisdom, as well as their inability to think critically, if they can think at all.

I did however call into a talk show on the regional public radio station when the same guy called in to the show after having called in earlier that morning for a shorter call in spot. Since I had not called in before, I was one of those selected for a slot to discuss the topic. So I spent my time correcting the BS (misinformation and misrepresentation) that he had been spewing. The host of the show then proceeded to ask me question, more like an interview. He invited me to participate in a debate, but apparently changed his mind thereafter, since he didn't follow up with me.
 
  • #12
FlexGunship
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Oh, here's another gem that I found from a year ago:

Topic: Making Nuclear Power Safer -A caller informs both Diane and her guest that he gets his electricity "from the wall" and he doesn't see why that's not good enough for everyone else. I don't remember it perfectly, but I also have a note here that says he become confrontational when questioned a bit further.

Yeah, so... that might be one of the reasons why so many people seem to protest every kind of power plant (even wind, lately).
 
  • #13
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Wall power is my favorite kind of power too... and its clean!
 
  • #14
Evo
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Wall power is my favorite kind of power too... and its clean!
Yeah, I've used wall power all of my life.
 
  • #15
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I use pure, organically grown wall-power.
 
  • #16
phinds
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I so loathe and detest Diane Rehm that it makes me cringe when I surf through her show accidentally. I find it astounding that you can listen to HER much less to her moronic guests.
 
  • #17
Evo
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I so loathe and detest Diane Rehm that it makes me cringe when I surf through her show accidentally. I find it astounding that you can listen to HER much less to her moronic guests.
Why is she on? Can't people start a write in campaign to raise the bar and lower the boom on her?
 
  • #18
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I've often thought about calling in and stating (truthfully) that I would contribute a couple of hundred dollars if they would fire her, but I never have.
 
  • #19
Pengwuino
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Someone needs to record a bunch of stupid callers so they can be played for students in my class to show how stupid people are.
 
  • #20
Why is she on? Can't people start a write in campaign to raise the bar and lower the boom on her?

The people who call into her show are also probably the same people who actually spend time writing their politicians about the content on the radio channel their taxes pay for. That is why I am thinking she is being "polite" to said people.
 
  • #21
FlexGunship
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I've often thought about calling in and stating (truthfully) that I would contribute a couple of hundred dollars if they would fire her, but I never have.

I did that with Carl Brady (the NHPR fundraiser guy), because every time he said the phone number, which started 1-888- his voice would get SUPER nasally on the eights (think plugging your nose and yelling). It was so bad that I called in an said I would donate if they told him to speak in a more normal tone.

I don't know if I had any effect, but he doesn't do it anymore.

Someone needs to record a bunch of stupid callers so they can be played for students in my class to show how stupid people are.

You don't have to record them, just listen to ANY show. You don't have to plan it or anything.
 
  • #22
phinds
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The people who call into her show are also probably the same people who actually spend time writing their politicians about the content on the radio channel their taxes pay for. That is why I am thinking she is being "polite" to said people.

Have you ever LISTENED to her? You COULD be right, but I think she's polite to them just 'cause she's an idiot.
 
  • #23
turbo
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Most of the people hosting these radio shows are morons, IMO. They are filling air-time to keep their jobs, and they are less concerned with accuracy and good content than with controversy and banter. Look at Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. Can anybody stand to watch the "idiocy on parade" that they and their producers serve up?
 
  • #24
FlexGunship
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Most of the people hosting these radio shows are morons, IMO. They are filling air-time to keep their jobs, and they are less concerned with accuracy and good content than with controversy and banter. Look at Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. Can anybody stand to watch the "idiocy on parade" that they and their producers serve up?

I think NPR opinion shows (and Fox opinion shows) are more dangerous because people seem to mentally equate them with news. In fact, most gripes with "Fox News" are really with the million opinion shows they run each day. The same is true of NPR. NPR is the best news reporting agency in the U.S. in my opinion, but their opinion shows make them look like crazy left-wing terrorists.

Today she's doing a show on Greece's upcoming austerity referendum, and something about someone who wrote a memoir.
 
  • #25
phinds
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Most of the people hosting these radio shows are morons, IMO. They are filling air-time to keep their jobs, and they are less concerned with accuracy and good content than with controversy and banter. Look at Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. Can anybody stand to watch the "idiocy on parade" that they and their producers serve up?

Although I agree w/ you about those two, I have not found any problem with any of the other hosts on NPR and I've only have to grit my teeth a LITTLE bit with the hosts on POTUS, none on the BBC or CNN, so as a rule, I disagree w/ you.
 
  • #26
turbo
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Although I agree w/ you about those two, I have not found any problem with any of the other hosts on NPR and I've only have to grit my teeth a LITTLE bit with the hosts on POTUS, none on the BBC or CNN, so as a rule, I disagree w/ you.
I wish we could clone Bill Moyers. He was never one to play the "moderator" and invite a right-wing flack and a left-wing flack onto his show and let them duke it out, like Gwen Ifill and other lightweights. By the time guests came to his tapings, he had more insight into the potential results of their positions than the guests themselves had. I found that quite refreshing, and would watch programming like that all day, if it was available.
 
  • #27
phinds
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I wish we could clone Bill Moyers. He was never one to play the "moderator" and invite a right-wing flack and a left-wing flack onto his show and let them duke it out, like Gwen Ifill and other lightweights. By the time guests came to his tapings, he had more insight into the potential results of their positions than the guests themselves had. I found that quite refreshing, and would watch programming like that all day, if it was available.

No arguement there.
 
  • #28
DoggerDan
I think NPR opinion shows (and Fox opinion shows) are more dangerous because people seem to mentally equate them with news. In fact, most gripes with "Fox News" are really with the million opinion shows they run each day. The same is true of NPR. NPR is the best news reporting agency in the U.S. in my opinion, but their opinion shows make them look like crazy left-wing terrorists.

Today she's doing a show on Greece's upcoming austerity referendum, and something about someone who wrote a memoir.

So you think Megan Kelly is out to lunch?
 
  • #29
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Wall power is my favorite kind of power too... and its clean!

Yeah, I've used wall power all of my life.

I use pure, organically grown wall-power.
Wall power is not sustainable!! You Americans and your big walls. What if everyone wanted a wall? Wake up sheeple!
 
  • #30
FlexGunship
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Wall power is not sustainable!! You Americans and your big walls. What if everyone wanted a wall? Wake up sheeple!

Do you know how big the CEO of Lutron's house is?! You're just feeding his pockets every time you install a wall outlet. Forget big oil... down with big wall outlet!
 
  • #31
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I think that the show and the callers have been misrepresented.

But see for yourself; here is the transcript of what the OP is calling "idiotic."
DR show said:
JOHN
11:40:38
I've been sailing the Pacific Ocean for the past 20-some years, back and forth between China, the Islands and California. And a number of us out there have always heard about this garbage patch out in the middle of the Pacific, but none of us have ever seen it. And we've pretty much gone up and down every latitude due to different weather conditions, but we've never seen this garbage patch.
MOORE
11:41:03
What's the height of your deck off the water?
JOHN
11:41:08
Oh, probably 100 feet.
MOORE
11:41:10
Yeah, well, see I'm six feet off the water. And so I see these little things floating by, but when we talk about a garbage patch, we're not expecting you to see things touching each other. We're not expecting you to see a mat of trash on the ocean. What we're talking about is maybe one piece per square meter and, at that, maybe the size of a quarter or smaller or a little larger. That's predominately what's out there.
MOORE
11:41:37
So you get out up 100 feet off the water, it's really tough to see this stuff, but, yeah, I mean, you're not saying …
JOHN
11:41:42
Well, I'll been through the Mediterranean and it's really obvious. You know, you go through the Straits of Gibraltar and that is really bad there, but …
MOORE
11:41:51
Yeah.
JOHN
11:41:51
… in the middle of the Pacific, it's relatively clean. I mean, you see some flotsam and jetsam now and then, but nothing that you'd call a garbage patch.
MOORE
11:42:00
Yeah, well, that's a very good point. You don't need a gyre to create a mess in the Mediterranean because you've just got a tiny little outlet. So, yeah, anything that gets thrown into the Med is gonna get stuck there. And you've got an older civilization, you know. Asia just came on board with embracing the consumer lifestyle in the last decade. So they're just starting to generate more of this stuff.

REHM
11:53:58
What about glass? What about glass? What happens to glass?
MOORE
11:54:02
Glass breaks. It has sharp shards. People drop stuff and it causes a big problem, but glass is remarkably inert when it comes to food contact. So it's a wonderful way to deliver beverages.
REHM
11:54:15
But what happens to it when it gets into the ocean, if you reverted to glass?
MOORE
11:54:21
Well, it's certainly not going to biodegrade. What's gonna happen is it's gonna become part of the Earth's crust, which is from whence it came. Silicon is a very major part of the Earth's crust. Glass is made from sand and it's not a pollutant, as such. It's quite inert. So it's not a big problem.

I think someone has grossly misrepresented what he heard.

But maybe I am wrong.
See the whole transcript and please point out to me the idiots.
http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2...l-outlook-plastic-pollution-oceans/transcript
 
  • #32
FlexGunship
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I think that the show and the callers have been misrepresented.

I suspect that transcript has been cleaned up appreciably. That's much more intelligible than the conversation I heard on the radio.
 
  • #33
Chi Meson
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Flex,

Your description of what was said does not even fit into the same ballpark as what was on the transcript. There's "clean-up," and then there's "change completely."

And I just listened to the recording of that show. The transcript is precise.
 
Last edited:
  • #34
D H
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Where else but NPR's Science Friday could you hear a discussion of Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 191101 (2011)?

Here it is: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201111043 [Broken].
 
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  • #35
turbo
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Thanks, DH.

We won't find that for a long time (infinity!) on the commercial networks.
 

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