Still, Jimmy Olsen might have claimed that Superman at least put on a pair of spectacles to conceal his true identity. In my book, that puts him one notch over the soft science schnucks currently lamenting how Harald Eia and the TV series "Hjernevask" make them look bad by showing viewers parts of interviews where the "scientists" are "tricked" into giving pretty much the exact same quotes as they have given in earlier interviews. Moreover, they agreed to appear on the show under the premise that it would be science journalism involved, and thus a serious show wherein they would bask in the glory of their doctorates in what asymptotically approaches science from below.
When the program was announced, some of the interviewees already started their public outcry of having been misled - some six months before the show was supposed to air. Not having seen any of the episodes, but having seen the teasers and followed the subsequent debates in other media, this still struck me as odd. From what I've seen in the teasers - which mirrors what I've read in the ensuing debates - an episode goes a li'l something like this:
- Eia inerviews some Norwegian "scientist" and appears to ask some critical question.
- Norwegian "scientist" inevitably provides aa absolute, definitive answer for which he or she has no scientific basis.
- Eia appears sceptical.
- Eia asks some foreign (preferably American) scientists the same question and presents them with the comments from the Norwegian soft-science schnuck.
- Foreign scientist give a different answer, invariably in less bombastic and absolute terms than the Norwegian "scientists"
- Eia nods in approval like a bobblehead doll in a car with bad suspension during an earthquake.
- Repeat ad nauseam with different topic.
There's no doubt that Eia appears to be severely biased in his interviews, so that does warrant a fair deal of criticism. Favoritism aside, here's what I really don't get. Harald Eia is a very talented comedian, and has parlayed this into national celebrity and probably significant wealth. Eia's style of comedy can hardly be characterized as sophisticated, and to my knowledge, he has never displayed any public interest in science journalism until this show. Moreover, I notice from the teasers as well as from the ensuing public debate that Eia does the interviews himself, without any form of disguise. Not even a pair of glasses. This means that one out of two scenarios must have taken place prior to the interviews:
Scenario 1: Soft-science schnuck is contacted by Eia directly.
Eia: Hello - this is Harald Eia calling. You might remember me as a TV-comedian famous for showing his private parts on television, for making fun of people from other parts of Norway than himself, and for having skits wherein dogs lick various food items off of Kristoffer Schau's balls. I'm currently working on a science journalism project where I endeavour to elucidate different aspects of human behavior based on nature versus nurture. Would you be interested in appearing on such a program to talk about things pertaining to your research?
SSS: So I'll be on TV, right?
Eia: You most certainly will.
SSS: Sign me up.
Scenario 2: Soft-science schnuck is contacted by some staffer assigned to Eia:
Staffer: Hello there. My name is of no consequence and I am calling because NrK is planning a TV series based on the premise of elucidating different aspects of human behavior and determining whether certain traits can be more strongly linked to nature or to nurture. Being that you have been a vocal proponent for nurture over nature, that you have published several articles on the subject and that you own a sports jacket, we'd like to interview you for the program.
SSS: Who's gonna be doing the interview?
Staffer: Harald Eia.
SSS: The TV comedian famous for showing his private parts on television, for making fun of people with a different dialect than himself and for having skits wherein dogs lick various food items off of Kristoffer Schau's balls?
Staffer: That'd be the one.
SSS: Would I have to lick anything off of Schau's balls to be on TV? I'm allergic to nuts..
Staffer: You'll only be required to give an interview where you repeat the exact same inane statements you have gone on record giving earlier.
SSS: Sign me up.
So assuming the soft-science schnucks weren't contacted under the premise of making a science journalism spoof, where's the deception? At the end of the day, unless the interviews were edited to the level where words from different parts of the interview were combined to form quotes the interviewee never intended to give, they need to STFU. If they really thought that a program designed and executed by Harald Eia would be an unbiased piece of BBC-like science journalism, I've got a piece of land with a tower on it in central Paris to sell them real cheap.
Of all the soft-science schnucks getting their undies in a bunch over the resluting TV show, none have appeared more indignant than one Jørgen Lorentzen. Lorentzen appeared in a televised debate Thursday the 18th of March and claimed that the interview contained lots of footage of him putting over biology and biologists left and right, only that dastardly Eia cut those parts out, leaving him looking like a government-sponsored moron. He luv'd him sum biologists, but he also knew for a fact that the foreign expert Eia had used to counter his eloquent arguments in favor of nurture had done some critical error in his experiment design, thus invalidating the studies and any conclusions derived from it. Eia had actually done his homework and upon asking Lorentzen to state the flaws in the study, was able to counter and negate the two or three points made by Lorentzen. Following this, Lorentzen sulked and argued "well; there were several other critical flaws" before the host mercifully ended Lorentzen's self-burial. Moreover, the statements Lorentzen deemed to have been taken out of context, i.e., not being shown following Lorentzen putting over biology, were shown to have been given in earlier interviews with Lorentzen, where he apparently had no problems with Dagens Næringsliv printing such quotes. Or maybe the problem was that DN never put his quotes next to counterarguments by other experts, and so he only appeared to be caught in a cul-de-sac of his own self-righteousness. On Hjernevask, however, he appeared arrogant AND clueless. Not to mention that he got owned in a debate in a subject where he clearly considers himself an expert...by Harald Eia.
While I'm not saying that all the Norwegian soft-science schnucks interviewed by Eia only to have all kinds of issues later are idiots, there's no question that the quotes from the foreign scientists come across as more level-headed. This was especially clear for the Norwegian "expert" and waste of human flesh that on a direct question from Eia answered that each individual was free to choose his or her sexuality.
Tell that to a teenager from a strict religious background in rural Norway who would have to break any ties to family and friends and endure bullying and ridicule from peers if he or she chooses to come out of the closet.