Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Philosophy, Journalism and Truth

This was a bright ray of thoughtfulness in my grey morning.
Still, broadly speaking, we need philosophers who understand how epistemology and the establishment of truth claims function in the real world outside seminars and journals—the role of recognized authorities, of decision, of conscious intersubjective setting of standards. And we need journalists who scrutinize and question not just government officials, PR releases, and leaked documents, but their own preconceptions about every aspect of their business. We need journalists who think about how many examples are required to assert a generalization, what the role of the press ought to be in the state, how the boundaries of words are fixed or indeterminate in Wittgensteinian ways, and how their daily practice does or does not resemble art or science. - Carlin Romano
I agree, and it's nice to see someone saying it in a journal like the Chronicle of Higher Education. In an era of Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart, questions about the relationships between facts, truth and reporting are critical to who we are and where we're going as a nation. Manifestations of irrationality like "Death Panels" and "Obama's a Kenyan" or even "The CIA was behind 9/11" undermine the foundations of our republic - a well-informed citizenry.

One of the reasons I was attracted to DailyKos, before I started doing any blogging and before I was involved in politics, was Markos' position on The Crazy. He did not tolerate people who made repetitive, baseless and destructive claims if they did not present coherent and convincing evidence. As Kos said, "This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it."

And it's a reason I like blogging. People online will call you on your biases and weak assertions. That's important, critical, in a democracy. As for journalism, I hope (and fear) that the future of journalism can be found in blogs today. But hey, I could be wrong.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to Mike Carter.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Antidote: Jumbotron Dance Succeed

Courtesy of Succeed Blog.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to Waldo.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Vote

Well, congratulations are due to the Republicans here in Virginia for their victories, statewide. They inherit a gigantic budget crisis, which they will no doubt try to "solve" on the backs of the poor, our schools and further degradation of our transportation infrastructure. It also means that redistricting is going to be an absolute knife fight, given the Democrat's razor-thin margin in the state senate.

On a personal note, I take some pride in the fact that my precinct only went for Bob McDonnell by one vote. What's frustrating is that I think I know who that vote is. I have a neighbor I am confident would have voted for our ticket had she come to the polls. Should I have called her at 4pm while I was handing out sample ballots at the precinct?

They say that one vote doesn't matter. In this case, for my precinct, it did. One vote would've tied East Leesburg for the Democrats in the most Republican election in Virginia in fifteen years. I consider that a small victory.

The next four years will be interesting, to say the least.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Two Science Links

Please come out and vote tomorrow for Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon. Your vote matters. As always, I'll be manning the table at the East Leesburg precinct. Come by, vote, and say hi!

In the meantime, here are two rather interesting science links for the day.

Security Measures lead to false sense of security. - Funny thing about science and marketing, they're often unrelated and in conflict, especially when it comes to "security."

Blue Energy - Another interesting and minimally-polluting idea for generating electricity, this time from salinity gradients.