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3/13/2001

News Hype

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:36 am

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Here’s a CNN headline today: Mir spotted in skies over India. The article is full of alarmist hype, though it’d be hard for the average lay person to spot it. “Astronomers spotted Russia’s Mir space station hurtling over the skies of India on Monday and said the aging craft is expected to be visible to the naked eye in New Delhi for the next three nights.” This kind of reporting makes me angry. The paths of all orbiting satellites are well known. REgular readers of this weblog know how to predict when Mir, the International Space Station, and orbiting shuttles, and other major bodies will pass over their heads. Mir orbits the earth several times a day (I don’t remember how many times offhand — twenty?), passing over much of the earth as it does so. Reporting this as news, much less making it a leading headline, is nothing more than an attempt to induce panic, and as much of a champion for freedom of speech as I am, it seems to me this is akin to the old “yelling fire in a crowded theater” bit.

Surprise rebuke

Filed under:General — eric @ 2:21 am

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The fine community at Metafilter have jumped all over me when I pointed out the CNN Mir story. This caught me by surprise, so I tried to justify my position further.