Monday, January 21, 2019

Exposing Truth

My friend and his daughter started a consulting firm called Critica.  It's has been to take the public controversies of science, which are often more controversial to ignoramuses or people with political agendas to pursue than they are to scientists themselves, and promote accuracy in its public reporting.  There are legitimate machloket's, Hebrew for disputes, among scientists, which is how science advances, and there are distortions intended to achieve a desired end.  Lest we think this is new in the form of evolution deniers or anti-vaxxers, in another era our history books tell us of scientists revered today being threatened but high level authorities over things like geocentrism or a flat earth.

Their editors asked an interesting question to their readers recently, how could their service be advanced?  While they focus on physical or biological science, which for the most part has demonstrable end points. their interface is journalism, how the truth or its distortions are presented to people who lack the technical background to permit their own analysis.  It is not all that hard to demonstrate that pediatric vaccination advances public health and that the world is warmer than it once was.  Those same processes of analysis and presentation are adaptable to other forms of demonstrable truth.

After World War II General Eisenhower on discovery of concentration camps had the saichel, good judgment, to bring witnesses and newsreels to disclose what he saw.  Despite many technological advances in documentation, I've yet to see anyone marching Gazans through Hamas tunnels or interviewing the people who built them.  No question that those tunnels are there and what they are intended for, but nobody with Eisenhower's looming stature, security, and integrity seems ready to make the disclosure.  Not even journalists who would like a scoop.

One of the audiobooks that I listened to while commuting was Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Nomad in which she described the textbooks given to her as her curriculum with blatant anti-Semitism whose content those students would be expected to master for their exams.  I've never seen one of those textbooks, but there is nothing to keep it from being translated and posted on the web in its original form.  These are pretty binary truths, they are either there or they are not.

Some are more nuanced.  People of my era have some recollection of Edward R. Murrow's Harvest of Shame documentary, where he reported on the dark side of the farming that becomes our food supply.  How the migrant farmers lived, or how the Appalachian people get by, has its element of truth, though with more of a "yes but" than we would get from analysis of physical sciences.

We also have things that do not lend themselves very well to analysis and finite answers.  There is a certain folly to proclaiming a true religion but people have been trying for a thousand years.  Perhaps exposing the folly is also part of exposing truth.

Whether science, geopolitical circumstances, or the plights of different people, all have that common link of reality.  While science disclosure generates less controversy than the others, they also have that common link to good journalism to create a proper public presence.  Clark Kent, that mild-mannered reported from a Great Metropolitan Newspaper, sought truth, justice, and the American Way.  The order on the Superman series seems more correct than the reverse order that we seem to have now.

Image result for truth justice and the american way

No comments: