Booker is in form, as usual, as he talks about Nelson Mandela: media narratives are “fraudulent concoctions of artifice”, and a prime function of journalism, to see through them. The writer Nicholas Taleb has long sections attacking the narrative problem—our ‘crippling dislike for the abstract’ becomes the excuse for journalists to weave narratives and ‘convey the impression of causality’.The story of global warming is inextricably linked to the narrative.
In academic circles, it is openly conceded that global warming is imperceptible and ‘unobtrusive’ at human timescales. It is not ‘visible to the public except through the media’ (e.g., see page 28 here). While with all issues, newspapers educate their audience to some extent, nowhere as in global warming have newsmen so completely embraced the teacher’s role. And yet, as journalist, he or she is supposed to cross-question the same source, check its claims and report on it.
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