Thursday, April 26, 2007

We Believe These People?

Last night on the NBC Nightly News, a talking head made my head clank when he said the speed of light was "186,000 miles per hour." That would be per second unless light had slowed down a great deal and I had missed the reports. I might not have blogged that fact except that less than an hour later, another talking head on a local news spot informed me that the device I was looking at which showed temperature and humidity was "a sling spectrometer." Clank again! A spectrometer is an optical instrument. A sling psychrometer is used to measure and/or calculate very local relative humidity and temperature.

Well, maybe, time had passed me by, but a Google search yielded only a single hit for sling spectrometer and that was in a list of things a college science class would be doing: "calculate relative humidity using a sling spectrometer; calculate the relative humidity in the classroom using data from a sling psychrometer." Most tellingly, at least for me, was: no one in the links provided had a sling spectrometer for sale.

These two items clanked in my mind with what I knew. One of them was definitely false, the other probably false. So, I was left wondering, what about all of the other "facts" these people report for which I have no framework, nothing for these to clank against?

Why do we believe these people? Why do we trust them?

No comments: