What happens when you watch too much TV

You see how funny the world is. And I don’t mean funny-ha-ha.

Oprah. The show was about all these people who won a million dollars or more. Near the end of the show, Publishers Clearing House drove a van onto the stage and gave a randomly chosen audience member 25 Large. As she and Oprah were hugging, she said something to Oprah, and Oprah eventually brought the statement the woman had into the open conversation.

“You say your husband gave this to you. Winning this prize.”

“Oh yes, he did …. he died in September, but before he died he told me … ”

bla bla bla.

Nobody told the lady she was crazy.

Jay Leno. Five people sitting around talking about news items. Finally they get to the annoying fact that they have to have a “holiday tree” and not a “Christmas tree.” They talked about how this is over the top PC-ness and etc. etc. What they needed to do was to go around the room and ask which of them was not from a “Christian” background. If all of them were, then they were an all white jury, right?

Later on the local news, reporter standing out in the cold as various groups gave toys to Toys For Tots Marines. A group of physical therapists gave toys. Then a group from the electrical utility company. One group was all female. The other group was all male. …. Can’t remember which was which. Any guesses?


  1. #1 Katharine
    December 12, 2009

    This is part of why I don’t watch TV and why I’ll be all too happy to get out of the US to go to grad school. (I’ll still vote, don’t worry, I’m not letting the largest nuclear arsenal in the world fall into the hands of uneducated moron fascist freaks that remind me of Julius Streicher, Benito Mussolini, and other fascists who had no brain. The parallels between these idiots and – yes – the Nazis, even if you ignore the Holocaust, and Italian and Spanish fascism are staggering. They’re sexually oppressive, racist, hypocritical in their demands for freedom of speech for themselves and not others, and they burn written information – which is just the most outwardly blatant form of censorship they do.)

    Really, I hope that if the conservatives get too far – if they take power back and start muscling it on the world to too much of an extent – that the EU, Russia, and China are militarily able to kick the American army in its ass before it fucks up too badly.

  2. #2 Abstruseoddity
    December 12, 2009

    Katharine, you want China to kick “the American army in its ass” because you oppose sexual and racial oppression as well as violations of free speech, right?

    You didn’t think this through, did you?

  3. #3 mk
    December 12, 2009

    Anecdote, I know, but…

    I am an atheist who celebrates Christmas, tree and all. My wife is nominally Jewish. I’ve/we’ve never called it a “holiday tree.” Nobody I know calls it that. None of my non-christian, non-religious friends or family members, of which there is a rather large number, have ever said or requested or suggested “holiday tree.” The only time I hear the words “holiday tree” is when some right leaning Christian complains about some mythical war on Christmas.

    Self-victimization must be awfully satisfying this time of year.

  4. #4 James Brennan
    December 12, 2009

    Re the last item: I work at a college that has a dental assistant program, which happens to be in the same building where I work. For the last 12 years I have seen a constant parade of young women dressed in pajamas scrubs around there. I finally asked one of the instructors (also all females) about it, and she told me that in 20 years they have had one male student, who dropped out without completing the program. I guess men become dentists.

  5. #5 NewEnglandBob
    December 12, 2009

    Oprah, Leno and the local news – that isn’t TV watching, its Chinese water torture!

    As far as donating toys for children at Christmas time – I have always been against that. There are millions of children who are hungry and homeless. That is where donations should go – for food and shelter and medical and dental care for children, not toys.

  6. #6 psuedoperson
    December 12, 2009

    You should never confuse TV with “the world”. They are mutually exclusive.

  7. #7 Diane G.
    December 12, 2009

    Let me guess…Mom needed a break from Huxley, Dad gave up on trying to type with a babe in arms?

    I was actually kind of grateful to my colicky 2nd kid, without whom I’d have missed Johnny Carson’s final shows…

  8. #8 skeptifem
    December 12, 2009

    Buy The Wire on DVD. So you don’t watch awful tv.

  9. #9 llewelly
    December 12, 2009

    Throw away your TV. You will find local and global politics easier to understand, you will find important scientific developments easier to stay informed about, you will find you have more time to do the fun and interesting things you’ve been putting off due to lack of time, and you’ll find it less difficult to lose weight.

    You’ll be happier, smarter, healthier, and better informed.

  10. #10 skeptifem
    December 13, 2009

    Oh, the snobbery. Tossing in the bit about finding it easier to lose weight is just….what is the point of that? Its making a lot of assumptions all at once that seem to equate tv watching (and fat) with character flaws when there isn’t much reason to.

    I don’t know how global politics would be easier to understand without knowing what the mainstream coverage of it looks like. It is consumed by a large number of people and is a window into the motivations of the business class.

  11. #11 Barn Owl
    December 13, 2009

    @ #10:

    Its making a lot of assumptions all at once that seem to equate tv watching (and fat) with character flaws when there isn’t much reason to

    Surely you don’t expect people to apply empirical methods, rather than just stating their biases, before making judgmental comments on ScienceBlogs? Because that would be, well, reasonable. 😉

    @ #4:

    I guess men become dentists

    I teach in both medical and dental school classes, and at least half of each group of entering students is female, at our university. Based on my experiences on promotions committees and as course director, there’s no apparent gender bias in the rates of academic success or dropping/failing out of professional school. All the dental hygiene students here are female, but a colleague who teaches both dental hygiene and dental students tells me that a significant number of the former eventually go to dental school.

    I also find it strange that Greg seems to be implying that all of the physical therapists on the Oprah program were female. I give embryology lectures in an upper level PT course, and at least a third of the students in that class are male. I’m glad that my experiences are different, because it would seem that many people here are stuck in an old episode of Marcus Welby, M.D. Or something.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    December 13, 2009

    I also find it strange that Greg seems to be implying that all of the physical therapists on the Oprah program were female.

    Hold on a second! That is strange indeed because it is something that was generated in your head all by yourself! Not Oprah, and no implication, just an observation. Your sentence could be better phrased. My observation was not strange. The situation (all males in one group and all females in the other group) was strange, and that is why I mentioned it!

    By the way, are you in the US? The US has had mostly male dentists for a long time and is the most male-dental country, apparently. In some countries, most dentists are female.

    Right now just under 20% of all dentists are female, but among those out of dental school less than 10 years ago, over 30% are female.

    Here are some stats:


  13. #13 Barn Owl
    December 13, 2009

    Your sentence could be better phrased

    Yes, sorry! It’s strange that all the physical therapists in the group were female, because that’s not consistent with my experience.

    And yes, I’m in the US – Texas, to be specific. There are a lot of females with MD or DDS degrees on faculty at our university as well, so the balance is not limited to the student population.

    As an aside, the voters of Houston, TX just elected the first openly gay mayor of a major US city. Wonders never cease! 😉

  14. #14 Paul
    December 14, 2009

    Yes, sorry! It’s strange that all the physical therapists in the group were female, because that’s not consistent with my experience.

    Keep in mind that Greg isn’t talking about a random sample of physical therapists, he’s talking about a specific group that organized themselves to donate toys at a specific televised event. If anything, the oddity would be what a cameraman or producer chooses to film/air, not the assumed oddity of all physical therapists being female. And having worked in various areas of video production, they do very much like homogeneous groups (not to say the report was staged to have a “his” group and a “her” group, but it’s possible).

  15. #15 Joshua Zelinsky
    December 14, 2009

    Regarding the single gender aspects, this is I think connected to the general tendency for all sorts of media to prefer simple narratives. This isn’t just true in television but newspapers and others also. It simply becomes more blatant the way televisions do things.