Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Entropy always increases

And that goes for information too, of course. We all should be used to this phenomenon by now; whenever a scientific opinion or study is released, the press mangles it terribly, especially with its attention-grabbing, copy-selling headlines. It should come as no surprise that when a news source simply relays stories of interest to a niche group, there may be an additional loss of fidelity.

For example; there's a nice story on CNN reporting on a study from the Brown Center that shows a negative correlation between a nation's average math performance and its average enjoyment of and self-confidence in mathematics. And somehow, the esteemed editors have transformed this into a statement about people skills. (Update 11/6/2006: added link)

I would like to conclude, with overwhelming sarcasm, that slashdot editors have great confidence in and derive great pleasure from their ability to read a news story closely. But that wouldn't really be part of the solution, now would it?

2 comments:

Ryan said...

I nearly had to include myself in that august cadre of people who can't properly read an article, as my first thought on reading the CNN article was "well, that looks fairly balanced." Then I dug up the slashdot post and all became clear. I really have to wonder if that guy read the same article I did. Isn't the telephone game fun?

P. Sternberg said...

Now that I take another look at what I wrote, I was perhaps being excessively subtle. Let me poke my nose under the hood and redo the linkage.