January 08, 2007

Who to Believe

So, I've been learning that I can find studies and statistics to prove any point that I want to make. Convenient for debates, but, unfortunately, my ideology bases most of its opinions on 'what works' and not the 'intention'. So, I tend to rely very highly on critical data to form my opinions. Yet, whether it's supply-side economics or evolution science, I can pretty much find an article to confirm whatever side of the argument I want to believe. So, if we can't believe everything we read and we can't believe ANYthing we read, how can we create a belief system?


Steve said...

Yah, I learned that when I was in policy debate. The thing is, most of the time it is not the data that are faulty. It's just that numbers can be used in the wrong context or in absence of the right one. For instance, when I was working in L-P, I was assigned to write a story on local ACT scores and whether they'd risen or fallen. To help, my editor gave me the AP story about scores in Illinois in general. That story was filled with politicians talking about how awful it was that Illinois finished toward the bottom in ACT scores, and how their education plan was what was needed to turn those scores around. They never mentioned (and the reporter never called them on) the fact that Illinois was one of only two states that required all juniors to take the exam, and it finished higher than the only other state with such a requirement. Upon seeing that, I filed the article where it belonged, the trash can.

Sabai said...

so, what do we do? is there someone we can trust to do this for us? a collection of objective scholars, with no side-religion other than objectivity? Ayn Rand wannabes? What can I base my knowledge on Steve-o?

Steve said...

I wish I had the answer. You could compare studies, sift out what the underlying facts truly are, sort out each group's general ideology to help you understand what motives they might have had and try to piece together something approximating the truth.

Of course that might require giving up work, family life and, well, sleep. Other than that, sorry, not much help I can offer.