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« Some Monday Links The RantsUnintelligently Designed Journalism »

CNN: Your 24 Hour Dead Pope Network
2005.04.06 (Wed) 14:00

Jesus Christ on a stick! Enough about the Pope already. If this was coverage of our own deaths, we wouldn't want it to be this pervasive. This has nothing to do with what we thought of the man (he had his strengths and his serious flaws), it has to do with the complete media barrage. It is absolutely impossible to walk by a television this week without seeing coverage of the dead pope and the series of events that are connected to his death. For our part, we are actively trying not to follow this story any more than we have to, and we still can't avoid it.

Against all efforts to the contrary, we know about the 117 Cardinals who will elect the next pope in one or more secret elections. We know that the secret election will take place on April 18. We know that said election is decided by a two-thirds-plus-one majority, and that after twelve days if there is no winner, the vote changes to a simple majority. We know that only Cardinals under the age of 80 get to vote, though the rest can pontificate (no pun intended) all they want on the subject. We know that most of the older Cardinals who don't get to vote are Italian, thereby making the chances of an Italian Pope slim. We know about the black smoke and the white smoke. We know that one of the leading candidates for popehood is a black man from Africa, and another is from Latin America. We know about the destruction of the Pope's ring. We know about the tons of people who are currently paying the Euro equivalent of $6 for bottled water outside of St. Peter's, and who are suffering from heat exhaustion anyway. We know that the Pope will be buried at St. Peter's, in those eerie crypts, and not in Poland. We know that Dubya will be attending the funeral on Friday with daddy Bush and Clinton in tow. We know that Condi will, as usual, be tagging along. We know that Jimmy Carter either snubbed the White House or was snubbed by the White House, and frankly, we don't care which it was.

And we know all this despite a concerted effort to not follow this story, and we know it without having to look it up — all of the above was off the cuff. That's not a plug for our stellar memories — we have had absolutely no choice except to be exposed to this deluge of unwanted information. Every internet headline blares out more datapoints, every news channel shows the Pope's body, and every news ticker ticks away Pope-related factoids. And it isn't just CNN — they just happened to be on the last five televisions that we walked past today. E-fucking-nough!

Of course, it won't end, and of course, this is no different than every other "major" story that the news channels bite onto with the tenacity of a pitbull who has forgotten how to release a bone. If they can get a higher share of viewers, they can sell advertising time, and make more money. Our question is who the holy hell actually wants to see this much coverage of the dead Pope? Are other countries around the world being exposed to the same forced barrage of media coverage as we are in the United States? Are we so stupid as a country now that this represents a week of "real news" for the masses? Are we, when it comes down to it, nothing more than accident gawkers and reality TV watchers who will gladly waste a week of time watching the same damned news over and over again? On second thought, nevermind — don't answer that last question.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Media & Censorship  % Religion  ]

Comments (4)

Chance, 2005.04.07 (Thu) 10:35 [Link] »

And the thing is we are primarily a Protestant nation that disagrees with virtually all Catholic doctrine.

And if I hear the ridiculous 1 billion Catholics in the world stat again I may vomit.

The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.07 (Thu) 14:58 [Link] »

Hey, there's one we missed on our list of things we've heard far too many times this week — the "one billion Catholics in the world" line. In fact, we just walked past the television and they said it on CNN...again.

We were also somewhat surprised by the seemingly widespread interest in the Pope here in the US. Only about 20% of the country is Catholic, and we expected more of the "evil Catholic church" sermons from the Protestants. But then, maybe we've just been reading too much Jack Chick...

Uber, 2005.04.07 (Thu) 16:45 [Link] »

No, I'm sure they won't sermonize on it but they think it.

And the stats on the churches numbers are so grossly inflated I can't believe no one dissects them critically.

Basically if you were ever born to Catholic parents or in a predominately Catholic country you are counted as Catholic. They don't count the legions who change religion, become nonreligious, or simply no longer practice catholism.

Most other denominations pick up the catholic refugees. I read on Internet infidels the number is actually 1/2-1/4 what is claimed. But yet it gets parrotted around nonetheless.

I doubt even 20% of the USA is practicing Catholic. Not with the numbers of churches closing in the northest and a much lesser presense in the protestant south.

The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.07 (Thu) 22:18 [Link] »

Exactly, Uber — there's a humongous difference between the number of people who answer polls asking what religion they subscribe to, and the number of people who actually subscribe to any religion. Polling is not an exact science, largely due to the hang-ups of those polled. We would conjecture that the only remotely truthful statistics on polls regarding religious beliefs are the ones that represent atheists — because, hey, why the hell would you lie that you are an atheist, in the current socio-political climate? In fact, the number of atheists would likely be underestimated, since many true atheists would be incorrectly lumped into religious categories. We also agree that there is a gross overestimation of the number of Catholics in the world. We think there are two major factors (among others) that contribute to these miscalculations.

First, the polls themselves are not conducted very scientifically. On one poll we read, a question was worded: "What is your religious background?" Depending on the person polled, this could have any number of meanings. For us, for example, we could easily answer "Catholic" or "Jewish" (depending on which one of us you asked), despite the fact that we are firm atheists — the point is, our "backgrounds," so to speak, do have roots in those religions, simply because our families are descended from people with those beliefs. For others, it might specifically refer to religious education or training, or current religious affiliation. Not taking all the possible meanings into account, the pollsters do not do a good job of accurately portraying their respondents.

The other factor we've considered is an odd "generational" bias, which we believe (and hope) may dissolve over the next thirty years. To illustrate: one of our members recently had a discussion with his parents in which he stated clearly, "I'm not Jewish — I'm an atheist." His parents chidingly replied, "No, you're Jewish," without giving a single thought to his own personal beliefs. The problem here is that, to the majority of the previous generation, religion is just as much a cultural identity as it is a system of beliefs. Our member's parents can't conceive that he might not be Jewish, because to them, it is their culture, and he is their son — so religion is hereditary. Uber, you're dead-on-target when you say:

Basically if you were ever born to Catholic parents or in a predominately Catholic country you are counted as Catholic.

The pollsters are belying their objectivity by buying into this cultural bias, which seems to assume that religion is separate from religious belief, and is just as heritable as skin color or height.

We wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that Uber's fractional statistics are absolutely correct, in terms of the actual religious beliefs of the citizens of our world. When you've got the gonzo PR campaign of the Catholic church, it's to be expected that they...creatively report their numbers. All part of the plan to spread Christianity — like a disease.

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