Thursday, February 8, 2007

Data Fabrication and the Power of Media

For the past three weeks, the news of this popular health-related TV show faking the numbers for several data has been everywhere from TV to papers pretty much everyday.

The central focus is on this topic about "natto" (fermented soybeans) having great effects for losing weight, and while other sources prove that natto does have some diet benefits, this show was over-exaggerating the numbers for data on experiments and also had false Japanese subtitles for the words of an American professor spoken in English so that his explanations would sound more convincing for the show.
Later on it has been found out that the same show have aired false information several times on different topics.

Airing false information nationwide itself is a big problem, but what made the issue bigger is the fact that this TV show is very popular among the country's people because it talks about health issues. Ever since the show was first aired in 2005 it has maintained high viewership and its influence is big enough to make dramatic changes in certain markets (especially food). For instance, say the show scientifically explained that grapefruit helps losing weight (note: this is just an example, not necessarily the truth) than the following week grapefruit will sell flying off the wagons and supermarkets and fruitshops. This was actually the case for natto, too.

I suppose that this show could have so much influence to the public because it focuses on daily problems that a good lot of people are concerned more or less, and because it provides solutions using cheap and available stuff for the general public. It also recruits examinees for the tests from common people that can be your nextdoor neighbor or even yourself - of which now, I am unsure how much is true.

The Power of Media ---
Well the other media and people accuse the data fabrication as if it was a vicious mistake only this program had made, but I'd say that most if not all of the shows of the same sort are doing the same. They're just probably not busted yet. I hear people say "don't believe everything on the Internet" but I think that the same thing can be said for every kind of media. People believe too much of what's said in the media and are influenced too much, I think. I have a feeling that we're losing ability to observe matters objectively.

Um... that's about it. There wasn't really a central point to discuss nor to make. I just wanted to let out my thoughts regarding this news.

Today's update on Japan Mode: Country Names in Kanji - since we had non-Japanese names in kanji and Japanese popular names published, I thought I'd add some country names written in kanji. Unlike the kanji name conversion requests these kanji combination aren't something I nor my staffs came up with, and are put together 99% pheonetically so they look kind of messy. In any case, come have a look!

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