Mother Jones right now has a fantastic article on their site detailing the way a modern media myth is perpetuated – an article which may shed some light on why certain parents are so upset that they didn’t get to look at the new health books before everyone else. Some of the highlights are things we’ve already observed – a good lie must be carefully crafted so that it gets a response immediately, and it must be calculated to spread and get others to believe it so that by the time it is inevitably debunked, it has already had the desired effect.
Perpetuating this is the media’s need to cover controversy as it unfolds, before anyone could possibly know all the facts. That way, when they do go back and correct themselves, the general public is past caring to hear the truth, having already chosen whichever partial information fits with their worldview.
And that, my friends, is the only reason I can think of that these parents would insist on seeing these books before anyone else. Find one quote out of context, circulate it in well-funded campaign literature (the origin of which Pogie has noted), and until the rest of the public gets to see it, there is only the IR’s investigative rigor standing between you and a successful manufactured controversy, and it’s more than even odds that the IR will run stories about the controversy (with quotes from ‘concerned parents’) before actually looking at the book themselves.
Fortunately, the books are now available to anyone who is interested, and the disappointment on the part of the Helena Youth Advocates is palpable. I encourage anyone with concerns to go look at the books and see what you think; I haven’t looked at them yet myself.