Sociological Analysis of the Media
In our society today, control is maintained by the authorities through regulation. In North America, major regulatory systems comprise two main systems of expertise. One is the criminal justice system, which is concerned with what will we do about crime and deviance. The other is the academic system of expertise, which is concerned with why crime and deviance exists. Academic expertise is the type of discourse deployed in the article by Michael Conlon to show, with ostensible authority, that maternal smoking during pregnancy is “linked” to adult criminal behaviour.
By using a recently published study, the article sets up the system of expertise to lend credibility to its headline and make a very persuasive (at first glance) claim. Scientists have high credibility and prestige in our society, and the article plays greatly on this assumption.
The key idea of the article is that criminal males are the product of mothers who smoked during pregnancy. The fallacy of affirming the consequent is evidenced in this statement when a closer look at the clarification of the meaning of the premise, and its significance, is made. To seriously answer questions of cause and consequent, the reader must assemble (“accurately”) measured covariables and variables and draw reliable conclusions from them. While the researchers of this data present certain conclusions, these conclusions may not necessarily be reflected in the media report. The media is capable of manipulating the information from the research report in order to support their own biases or beliefs.
In the year 2000, smoking has fallen out of public favour and is seen as an undesirable social and physical health habit; many cities across Canada have banned smoking in all indoor, and in some cases in certain outdoor, areas. This article accurately reflects the general public opinion that smoking is “bad”, but it does not necessarily accurately reflect the results of the main study it is citing, but rather could be using only parts of the study to support the evil-causes-evil fallacy, i.e., smoking causes criminal behaviour.
There are also some reporting problems in the article regarding the applicability of the the study’s findings. The sample of the study was taken from several small, affluent Western European countries, where poverty is low, compared to many larger industrialised nations such as Canada, and where minorities make up a very small part of the population (i.e., it is mainly a white society) . Another incongruity is evident in the reporter’s assembling of data; the reporter cites a study done in Western Europe, based on western European data, but also quotes North American researchers, who confirm that the link between the independent variable (smoking) and the dependent variable (adult male deviance) exists. Thus the validity of the conclusion the article puts forth is questionable, as it may not be generalizable...