July 27, 2009

I want this book

And I love Charlie Pierce on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Amazon.com: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (9780767926140): Charles P. Pierce: Books:
"Question: Is there a specific turning point where, as a country, we moved away from prizing experience to trusting the gut over intellect?
Charles P. Pierce: I don't know if there's one point that you can point to and say, “This is when it happened.” The conflict between intellectual expertise and reflexive emotion—often characterized as “good old common sense,” when it is neither common nor sense—has been endemic to American culture and politics since the beginning. I do think that my profession, journalism, went off the tracks when it accepted as axiomatic the notion that “Perception is reality.” No. Perception is perception and reality is reality, and if the former doesn't conform to the latter, then it’s the journalist's job to hammer and hammer the reality until the perception conforms to it. That's how “intelligent design” gets treated as “science” simply because a lot of people believe in it."

I think he has a point. Several points, actually, but this one is spot on. Once you bought into the idea that "perception is reality" it allows you to report idiocy as the equivalent of something smart and testable. It allows spin to function as news.

1 comment:

steves said...

Very good point. I am frequently confronted with emotional arguments in gun debates. The gun banners can't rely on logic or facts because the facts don't support increased legislation. They resort to fear, hyperbole and falsehoods. They believe there will be "blood in the streets" and "wild west shootouts" that never seem to materialize. It is unfortunate that journalism has sunk so low.