When you read this blog, there is one thing you should know about me, and that is that I am a suspect writer. I write biased, opinionated things about my own life – and my understanding of things can often be limited and faulty because my own life sometimes confuse the hell out of me. Hell, I’ve shown things I’ve written to Mark, and he just snorts and says ‘shows how much you know’.
In Journalism there is the clichéd admonition that has probably never been true to begin with: “Just the facts, ma’am”. All writers, and all writing, are biased and comes from a particular point of view. The selection bias starts already when you select a theme for an article, blog-post, or essay. The selection of the premise, or punch line, itself limits the amount of truth that can be had from a piece of writing.
One of the things that my school has really stressed over the last two years is to distrust any writing in magazines, newspapers, and books without independent verification of the actual source. Is the journalist that wrote the piece about Global Warming in Guardian a Climate Scientist, or does he or she have knowledge about Climate Science that would replace the need for a formal degree? Is Paul Krugman a scientist or a pundit in his role as a opinion writer for The New York Times? Is Phil Platt stance on scepticism valid despite not having a formal degree in Philosophy?
When I instinctively disagree with something, say something that David Cameron and the Tories have proposed, is it actually my intellect speaking, or just my general dislike of “the nasty party”? Are my credentials enough to outweigh something that Ed Milliband say? Are my feelings about Nick Clegg more important to me than any truth?
Are my emotions in fact more important than the facts. Have the clichéd admonition I opened with in fact been reversed to a “Not the facts, ma’am”? Do I use lots of words and non-essentials to affirm my emotional instincts, instead of absorbing facts?
If so, I think I’m not alone, and the whole of the reading public has been reduced to looking for emotional kicks rather than cold hard facts that may or may not be aligned with their feelings.