Why I am an atheist – David Lever »« Atheism+?

The stupidification of all media

I saw that Doonesbury made a joke of it, so I had to look it up. It’s true. Americans were surveyed to see which presidential candidate they thought would handle a UFO invasion best.

The channel surveyed 1,114 Americans in late May to get their thoughts on all things alien in anticipation of the channel’s upcoming series "Chasing UFOs." It even asked which superhero Americans would turn to first in the event of an alien invasion. (It’s the Hulk.)

Obama was particularly strong on the issue with women, with 68% saying they favor the president when it comes to dealing with flying saucers. And 61% of male respondents agreed. Obama also did well among Americans older than 65, with fully half of those surveyed casting their lot with him.

I really don’t give a damn which candidate won, any more than I care which comic book character they think would best fight little green men.

No, what made my eyebrows rise was the perpetrator of this idiocy.

National Geographic Channel found that nearly 65% of Americans surveyed said they believed that Obama was better able to handle an alien onslaught than the Republican presidential candidate.

The National Geographic Society is not synonymous with the National Geographic Channel, which is largely owned by News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s sinister organization. But still…National Geographic has their good name attached to this garbage? For shame.

Comments

  1. WhiteHatLurker says

    Which superhero was second? I mean with alien superheroes out there, I’d’ve figured one of them to be there before an Earthling like Hulk. Kal-el, why have you forsaken us?

  2. Joey Maloney says

    Seems to me it’s actually a good way to get at people’s attitudes about each man’s competence, by picking a fictional disaster that’s free of any political overtones or partisan associations (such as a terrorist attack).

    That’s just for the first question. For the question about which superhero would be best…I got nothing.

  3. kreativekaos says

    What? You mean no one of the 1,114 surveyed mentioned the ULTIMATE superhero— Jesus??

    Statistically, I would have thought a representative sample would have had at least 60% plus championing one of the deities or their reps to bitchslap the onslaught of alien ‘terra-squatters.’

  4. machintelligence says

    So now it’s not just internet polls that we should ignore.
    Has the popularity of Superman dropped in recent times? He would be my choice, unless the invaders were from Krypton (which was supposedly destroyed some years back.)

  5. F says

    I dunno, mang, wouldn’t one of these be better for the job?

    But yeah, if we are limited to the given choices, why not Obama? He’s in charge of a military machine (Leviathan), and commands a Navy with CVs named after previous presidents. (Yes, even Huge Berserk Rebel Warthog.) Plus, Predator drones. He’s got ‘em and he ain’t afraid to use ‘em. But if push comes to shove, he may have to find his Inner Angry Black Man. I hear he’s also an atheist, communist, socialist, Kenyan, lizard man, Muslim, terrorist anti-Christ, which sounds pretty fooken dangerous. Plus, he can have his justice department and homefried security theater agencies and stuff send ICE after them and take them to court. And the MPAA was there, and sent many takedown notices for infringing on copyrighted films.

  6. crocswsocks says

    This would actually be perfectly acceptable if the media wasn’t in the shitter. Betcha each 24-hour network will spend a week blabbing about this crap.

  7. says

    The Hulk? Are you kidding me? He would get vaporized by alien ray guns as soon as he hulked out. You would need a smarter superhero like Iron Man or all of the Fantastic Four to deal with an alien invasion.

  8. abadidea says

    While it seems to have just been a stunt for some stupid pseudoscientific aliens show, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the questions themselves – they’re interesting psychologically.

    Okay, now out of *all* the presidents we’ve ever had, who should we place in charge of defeating the alien invasion? :) I’m thinking Theodore Roosevelt

  9. aluchko says

    I have to agree with @Joey Maloney.

    65% is a pretty overwhelming number, and assuming it’s a well done survey it indicates that people really see Obama as a stronger leader (who else do you want to stand up to aliens?)

    The only thing that makes me wonder is the strength of the plurality, 65%? That’s got to be eating into the Republican base and I have trouble imagining that many Republicans really trust Obama that much over Romney.

  10. Knabb says

    So let me see if I get this straight: Obama gets 65% support for being the stronger anti-alien candidate. He “also did well among Americans older than 65, with fully half of those surveyed casting their lot with him.” How is it, exactly, that 50% support in this group is doing well, particularly as this puts the under 65 demographic a good 17.3% higher, given that the bar was set with women at 68%?

  11. DLC says

    @3 : Well, you see, most conservatives would never whisper it down a well, but they find The Hulk more believable than a 2100 year old Zombie.
    ======================
    It may be some amelioration to note that this poll and related story had some connection to the fabled Ronald Reagan conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev along the lines of “well, if the martians invaded, you and I would cooperate to fight them, yes? ” I found a reference on youtube. http://youtu.be/CfejBpD_wm4
    Not saying this is the reason for the NatGeoChannel poll, but it seems plausible. Still a dumbass idea.
    and just because I can’t resist – most believable superhero = Batman or Ironman.

  12. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    As a voter, it gives me a great deal of confidence to know that my president would contact Sailor Moon and all the Sailor Senshi, the cast of Busytown Mysteries (HOORAY FOR HUCKLE!!!) along with Scooby Doo and all the Mystery Machine gang to ward off any threats from the planet Zargon, or wizardly menaces from Gargamel or Prince John and the Sheriff of N.O.T.T..

    These are deep and meaningful issues to me and I feel very grateful to a scientific society, such as National Geographic, to bring this situation to the fore, since there isn’t much gravitas or issues really worth spending time and serious discussion over at all going on this election cycle.

    I’m getting my jacket and going out. Yes, I know there’s werewolves out on the moors this time of year, but I seriously don’t give a fuck anymore.

  13. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    What? You mean no one of the 1,114 surveyed mentioned the ULTIMATE superhero— Jesus??

    If Jesus invaded I would definitely trust Obama. Obama would fix Jesus up with Medicade, and a job fixing the highways in Michigan. This would ease Jesus’ anger and provide him a fulfilling way to contribute to society.

    Romney’s Robber baron crap would only inflame Jesus, and thereby add to the problem.

  14. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Well, when you consider how George W reacted to the scenario that terrorists could fly airplanes into buildings, I’d go with the guy with the more flexible imagination. (It still makes my teeth chatter to recall the Bush helper who said they just couldn’t imagine it happening.)

    The National Geographic Channel isn’t run by Nat Geo? That explains a lot. How the frack did that come about?

    (The Hulk? Really? “Reed Richards possesses a mastery of mechanical, aerospace and electrical engineering, chemistry, all levels of physics, and human and alien biology.”)

  15. ambulocetacean says

    National Geographic has their good name attached to this garbage? For shame.

    Nat Geo has attached its name to a whole sewer full of garbage — “alternative medicine” woo (some of it presented with astonishing ignorance by Henry Rollins, no less), Mayan apocalypse bullshit, cryptozoology mystery-mongering, you name it.

    They’ve been chasing Discovery and History down the shitter for years.

  16. Brain Hertz says

    Hmmm. Well, I’m in two minds about that question.

    On the one hand, clearly Barack Obama has a much greater innate ability to empathize with people not like him, which would be an important skill in that situation.

    On the other hand, if Mitt was in charge, there’s always a chance that the visitors turned out to actually be from his planet.

  17. says

    The media is only part of the problem. Our electorate is the other part. While canvassing in Virginia I spoke with a voter concerned about Gun Control and the Zombie Apocalypse. After explaining that the Center for Disease Control’s most effective emergency preparedness campaign “If you’re ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you’re ready for any emergency. emergency.cdc.gov” was launched during the Obama administration, I then cited the Nat Geo pol to illustrate that Obama had a huge lead (65 to 35 is a 30 point spread!) over Romney in the event of Alien invasion, which is along the same lines. Voter Persuaion is always interesting.

  18. Amphiox says

    On the other hand, if Mitt was in charge, there’s always a chance that the visitors turned out to actually be from his planet.

    That would be even worse! They would see us as a rogue government harboring their exiled criminal.

  19. kreativekaos says

    Planet Protection Team: Avengers, Justice League and The Watchmen.
    (Now I’ll sleep soundly, even as the mothership arrives.)

  20. anubisprime says

    That it is a Murdoch brain fart does not shock…considering the tone of most of his turgid nonsense it would be unusual if this crap was not put forward as a viable question!

    You see Murdoch has no intellectual depths and to be fair no intellectual pretensions, just a nose for conning and stroking the brain dead that prefer comic format for snippets of sensationalized news, tatty celebrity dirty laundry and naked princes not forgetting the gazing/drooling at semi-naked page 3 wimmins’.

    The legions of brain dead seem to consider Murdoch’s crud as some kind of infallible barometer of morality and opinion, letting Murdo do all the hard ‘thinking’ work for them.
    All they got to do is align with the editor’s opinion pieces, which coincidentally always coincide with the Editor’s boss.
    It is truly a matter of when Murdoch wants your opinion he will give it to you!

    The opinion pieces always provide one or two dubious…read made up…. ‘facts’ to use as incontrovertible ammunition down the pub or in the workshop and Murdoch’s work is done there!

    Pitchin’ the tawdry nonsense at the IQ level of a rusty nail guarantees maximum fallout and therefore profit and News Corp marches on in glory!

    Pity being that all that influence and reach are incontrovertibly tainted if not perverted by an old man’s crass bigotry, cynicism, intolerances, and immoral attitude to ‘news gathering’ a lamentable lack of ‘depth’ or indeed integrity, or even ‘reality’ shall we say? It is the hallmark of News International…presumable cos depth, integrity & reality is an optional extra which does not sell and does not gell with the fast food/fast news ethos that Rupert worships!

    “Let them eat cake” is a message that Murdoch wholeheartedly endorses.

    “Feed them crap” is the agenda!

  21. says

    26:

    (The Hulk? Really? “Reed Richards possesses a mastery of mechanical, aerospace and electrical engineering, chemistry, all levels of physics, and human and alien biology.”)

    Reed Richards is also one the greatest assholes in the history of superhero comics.

  22. says

    If aliens invade, we’re probably screwed no matter what we do. However, if I had to pick a president to defend us from aliens, I’d have to the one who’s been a pioneer in the use of robot assassins, in spite of my general opposition to robot assassins.

  23. Beatrice says

    I think the obvious answer is The Doctor. He’s already saved us a couple of times.

  24. Blattafrax says

    <Attempting to enter the mind of a survey responder>
    Well he’s black isn’t he? And from Kenya – that’s even further south than Texas so I hear. So practically an alien himself.
    </Attempting to enter the mind of a survey responder>

    I used to love reading NatGeo when I was a child. So I got a kids’ version subscription for my son last year. Cancelled it now – 50% advertising; of the rest – 50% advertising disguised as an article about a movie or game; of the rest – 50% trivial crap attached to a picture. Leaving about one page of substance.

    Still, it was a good lesson on the power of capitalism (i.e. Murdoch) to turn everything it touches to sellable drivel.

  25. Rip Steakface says

    Two things:

    First, consider that a typical modern sci-fi movie would probably have a non-WASP/male as president. Obama is not a WASP (though only fulfilling the first three letters of that acronym) and definitely among our more conventionally attractive presidents, therefore, he’s closer to the movie ideal of a sci-fi president.

    Second, The Hulk? Do you really want a literally mindless rampaging beast protecting you from an alien onslaught? That’s what indicates, to me, that we’re dumbed down. Aside from the obvious answers of Batman (I’m pretty sure he’s dealt with them before) and Superman (Boring Invincible Hero, also dealt with aliens before and is an alien), I’m pretty sure the super-character absolutely best-suited to an alien invasion would be Dr. Manhatten, due to godlike powers.

  26. CSB says

    $@29: The “literally mindless rampaging beast” thing depends on which version of the Hulk you’re talking about. There have been times where he still manages to stay relatively intelligent despite going into pissed-off green brick mode. That said, I’m pretty sure he’s disqualified simply on the basis of having actually LED the invading alien army (see: World War Hulk.)

    My vote probably would have gone towards someone from the Green Lantern Corps. They’ll be a lot more likely to recognize the specific invaders, and they’ll have plenty of backup available if it’s needed.

    (I have way too much fun with these sorts of arguments.)

  27. Lofty says

    If aliens invade, send in Rebecca Watson, she will say “Aliens, don’t do that” and then just wait for the aliens’ brains to explode with righteous indignation.

  28. birgerjohansson says

    Amhpiox @ 21

    Actually, there is a graphic novel with a similar plot: “The Authority: Kev”

    Except the dangerous alien criminal is a British politician!

  29. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    I’m with Beatrice @27. There are whole races of aliens that are petrified of Dr. Who. Superheroes are blunt force and have puerile dialogue. I’m much more impressed by someone with a screwdriver gizmo and a phone box making E.T. piss his britches than a guy in a cape wot can throw mountains at things and deflect bullets with his eyeballs.

  30. lexie says

    Lofty

    If aliens invade, send in Rebecca Watson, she will say “Aliens, don’t don’t do that” and then wait for the aliens’ brains to explode with righteous indignation

    :) :) :) (quiet chuckling)

    But what is the aliens are rational and reasonable beings which respect others and engage in polite discourse? :)

  31. blf says

    You mean RMoney isn’t a minor sub-lieutenant in the invading aliens army? But, but, he has magic underwear and everything…

  32. dianne says

    Well, if a pollster asked me who I thought would handle an alien invasion better, I’d probably say Obama and be too polite to say that I think that’s a really stupid question, though I might simply go with none of the above. Maybe at least some people felt much the same.

    Actually, I take it as a good sign that most people think Obama would do the better job in an unpredictable and dangerous situation. Isn’t the ability to handle unexpected crises one thing you want in a president?

  33. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    But, what if the aliens are from Romney’s planet, and Romney, Perry, Santorum, Bachman et al are the advance reconnaisance team?

    I mean, is that really so far-fetched? The invasion has already begun!

  34. zb24601 says

    I wouldn’t trust Superman against an alien invasion, because he is an alien himself.

    But the more important question, which no one seems to be addressing, is: Which presidential candidate could better deal with a zombie apocalypse?

  35. Alverant says

    Wait, which one is owned by Rupert Murdoch, National Geographic Society or National Geographic Channel? I have the channel on my list of favorite channels (but I never watch it since they run Border Wars so often) and now I’m wondering if I should get rid of it.

  36. lordshipmayhem says

    Actually, I’d opt for neither O’bama (nice Irish kid, but a bit out of his league here) nor Mittens (too ham-handed). Instead, I’d opt for Thomas J. Whitmore. He’s faced aliens before, in Independence Day.

  37. carlie says

    Clearly Will Smith or Aaron Eckhart would be best. In all these roles.

    My cynical interpretation to explain the high Obama percentage is that most white people immediately substituted Will Smith for Obama in their heads as soon as they heard “alien invasion”, because of not being able to tell them apart and all. *sad eyeroll*

  38. Larry says

    Fools, all of you! The only individual capable of handle alien invasions has already shown an ability to protect Earth from the outsiders. And that individual is …

    Doctor Who!

    If he can outwit the Daleks, the most evilest race in the universe, he can handle anybody.

  39. georgemartin says

    This summer the National Geographic Channel started a series called Chasing UFOs. My guess is that they ran the poll as part of their promotion for that program.

    That series is said to be stupid beyond belief! I think that even a lot of UFO believers didn’t like it. For example to the well known UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer’s review of one of the episodes called “More Time Wasted with National Geographics’c Chasing UFOs:

    http://badufos.blogspot.com/2012/07/more-time-wasted-with-national.html

  40. AussieMike says

    @9 abadidea
    “Okay, now out of *all* the presidents we’ve ever had”
    Im going with Lincoln, the guy’s a freaken vampire slayer!

  41. AussieMike says

    There is a reason Mitt can’t be trusted to fight an alien invasion. Everyone knows he gets to rule one of their planets after he dies. He’ll be too soft and won’t want to piss any of them off.

  42. gussnarp says

    I am surprised that no one here has mentioned the one super hero most capable of handling an alien invasion: the Silver Surfer. The Hulk? Against an entire invasion army of a space faring civilization? I think they could find a way to kill him fairly easily. Kal El? Please, like they couldn’t whip up some synthetic kryptonite in their weapons labs? Come one, if Lex Luthor can give him so much trouble, what chance does he really stand against the scientific prowess of the aliens? The Fantastic Four? Meh. Reed Richards scientific knowledge might be useful, but could it really compete with a civilization that has traveled light years to conquer us? They would be like unto gods. Therefore our defender must be like unto a god, and not some lame earth bound thunder god, but the wielder of the Power Cosmic. Yeah, bring on the Surfer.

    And yes, this is the most important part of this survey, because alien invasion is at the same level of fiction as comic books, and debates like these are perfect for comic book conventions and back rooms of comic shops, not for talking about our next President. Not for National Geographic.

    But yeah, Silver Surfer. Always bet on the Silver Surfer.

  43. pipenta says

    Depends on the type of alien. If it’s Xenu and his kooky pals, then we can send MItt out to lure them into an ambush. He’s at least useful as bait, if not as Commander in Chief. If we’re talking Alien proper, like in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-scream Alien, then the last thing we need is an anti-science Republican in power. If we have to deal with chest-bursters and the like, we are going to need well-funded entomologists and I don’t see THAT happening under the GOP.

  44. gussnarp says

    Aren’t Mormons some kind of intergalactic travelers anyway? I always get Mormonism and Scientology confused, since they both have wacky beliefs about going to live on or coming from other planets. Anyway, if they all get their own planet after dying, at least their ancestors are all aliens now. I say we can’t trust Mitt with an alien invasion, they’d all be his cousins.

  45. Rip Steakface says

    @30

    Yeah, I know about the severe multiple personalities Hulk/Bruce Banner has. I was definitely just talking about the most commonly recognized Hulk, Savage Hulk. However, if Joe Fixit or some other intelligent Hulk (preferably one that’s benevolent, unlike Joe Fixit) were the current personality in charge, he might work very well, being invincible and all.

    I still think Dr. Manhatten would be more useful, if you could convince him humanity is worth it.

  46. says

    [blockquote]Seems to me it’s actually a good way to get at people’s attitudes about each man’s competence, by picking a fictional disaster that’s free of any political overtones or partisan associations (such as a terrorist attack).[/blockquote]

    I sort of agree with this. I suppose my opinion on this survey would depend upon how ‘tongue in cheek’ it was. Am I expected to take the results seriously, or was it more of an ‘in good fun’ sort of thing?

    I suppose I have no issue with the poll. It actually sounds kind of funny and as you pointed out, does have some qualities that make it worth thinking about.

    But another damn ‘lets pretend the paranormal is worth taking seriously’ show? I think it’s about time I changed my channel subscription. I wanted the National Geographic and History channels because I liked actually LEARNING something from the TV occasionally.

  47. blf says

    Rincewind and the luggage have a proven history of saving the world… Several times, in fact. Once with a half-brick in a sock.

  48. David Marjanović says

    Seems to me it’s actually a good way to get at people’s attitudes about each man’s competence, by picking a fictional disaster that’s free of any political overtones or partisan associations (such as a terrorist attack).

    I agree. It’s also free of religious associations, except for Scientologists… and… Mormons.

    If aliens invade, send in Rebecca Watson, she will say “Aliens, don’t do that” and then just wait for the aliens’ brains to explode with righteous indignation.

    :-D

    My cynical interpretation to explain the high Obama percentage is that most white people immediately substituted Will Smith for Obama in their heads as soon as they heard “alien invasion”, because of not being able to tell them apart and all. *sad eyeroll*

    Hey, if they end up voting for him because he looks like a president… </cynicism>

  49. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Reed Richards is also one the greatest assholes in the history of superhero comics.

    Really?

    You are putting your sexual pleasure before the survival of the human race?

    I am NOT voting for you for president.

  50. says

    Ouabache #8

    The Hulk? Are you kidding me? He would get vaporized by alien ray guns as soon as he hulked out.

    gussnarp #51

    The Hulk? Against an entire invasion army of a space faring civilization? I think they could find a way to kill him fairly easily.

    No. Just, no.

    I wouldn’t chose the Hulk.

    But no.

    zb24601 #40

    I wouldn’t trust Superman against an alien invasion, because he is an alien himself.

    Given this whole question is silly and all, and people are obviously going to be snarky about something so silly… I found this more offensive than I should have.

    The implicit xenophobia in this statement reminded me of very real world examples I’ve personally seen along the lines of “I don’t trust Sgt. Abboud when we’re in Iraq, he’s an Arab himself”.

  51. Chaos Engineer says

    Wait, how are we defining “handle”?

    Under some definitions, the superhero best able to “handle” an alien invasion is clearly Ozymandias from Watchmen.

  52. kaleberg says

    I thought it was a great poll. It let’s us explore our attitudes to the candidates through metaphor. It’s like figuring out whether Obama or Romney would make a better vampire fighter. Obama has Michelle who looks like she could really drive a stake. Barack would be lurking in the shadows waiting and she’d deliver the coup de bois. Romney would put together a big organization with all sorts of neat vampire hunting gear, a great headquarters, a big PR push, an anti-vampire youth group, and at the end of the movie we’d find that he was in cahoots with the vampires from the get go. (In the real world they’re both much closer to the vampires than I’d like.) You see how it works, and it’s stupid, but it actually reveals something.

  53. WhiteHatLurker says

    @timgueguen – Not Straker – get Lt. Ellis instead! She actually directs the attacks against the aliens.