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"Judge For Yourself!"

Question: Since when is a streak of light on a pane of glass a news story?

The depressing answer is as of lunchtime on the 28th of January. Specially featured on the BBC News homepage (and currently their most-viewed video 'news' item) is a story of undiluted hokum. It's an all too familiar concoction involving a chance pattern of light on a window which just happens to bear the vaguest resemblance to a human form. Must be a ghost then eh!

It's bad enough having to put up with the avalanche of idiotic and credulous television shows (Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters, etc, etc) that somehow manage to bypass Ofcom broadcasting regulations on factual accuracy by playing the 'entertainment' card. But what about when reputable and supposedly trustworthy news gathering organisations begin to churn out such material? Don't they have a moral duty not to behave in such a way that actively promotes - however slightly - blatantly unscientific, irrational non-explanations?

It's such an irritating 'news' report it would take too long to describe all that is wrong with it. The part that sticks out as most irresponsible is the injunction to viewers to "judge for yourself", with its implicit meaning that there is no right or wrong answer and that proclaiming 'Yes, it's a ghost' is somehow equally valid as accepting the only real, true valid explanation: a chance streak of light (and not a particularly good one at that!)

Or am I overreacting? Are such stories as this just a "bit of harmless fun" as the BBC news editor concerned would doubtless say? Do stories like this actively contribute towards the strong culture of resistance that rationalism and science continue to encounter?



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