When Reading the News, Skepticism is the Way to Go

A very good and interesting piece from Matthew Continetti:

Events are turning me into a radical skeptic. I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past. I no longer have confidence in polls, because it has become impossible to separate the signal from the noise. What I have heard from the media and political class over the last several years has been so spectacularly proven wrong by events, again and again, that I sometimes wonder why I continue to read two newspapers a day before spending time following journalists on Twitter. Habit, I guess. A sense of professional obligation, I suppose. Maybe boredom…

I’ve been saying that for a while, myself. But I’m rather late to the game. Here’s another view:

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority. –G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross

As I’ve said before, even when journalism is trying to get it right, it really can’t. As Chesterton noted, it only concerns itself with the small number of people who do something odd or have something odd done to them. But it’s even a bit worse than that – because of time and space limitations, journalism can’t give us the full story even of these small slices of human life. Even the most intrepid and honest reporter simply won’t be able to give us all the facts. Outside that, the real problem comes in when the journalist is not being intrepid or honest – when he is just mouthing a line designed to serve a particular end and dressing it up as honest journalism. This is where we are today – in a world where hardly anyone is even trying to report it straight. Everyone’s got an agenda.

It must be remembered that you don’t have to push entirely false information to push an agenda. You can have a whole bunch of true things in there, even if you are trying to get across the most monstrous of lies (such as, for instance, the lie that Hillary was even remotely qualified to be President, let alone the allegedly most qualified person, ever). In fact, the more true stuff you can squeeze in there, the better – makes it harder to attack the main lie. But as I’ve also said before, if you add a ounce of lie to a pound of truth, what you’ve got is all lie. The two things just don’t mix. In the end, you are either telling the truth, or you are telling a lie…there is no half-truth, there is no white-lie.

The bottom line, for me, is that I simply do not believe what I’m reading unless I can ascertain a demonstrable fact…and even then I must be able to fit it all into a coherent worldview, informed by my knowledge of history. Skepticism is a requirement these days – you simply can’t take what is said in the media immediately at face value. It has to be checked – and it has to be pondered. Does it make sense? For instance, in that Georgia House race…we were told, endlessly, that the Democrat was a little ahead and that Democrat enthusiasm was at a huge peak…well, in the end, the Democrat lost by 4 percentage points and didn’t get any more votes than the Democrat had in 2016. It was a gigantic nothingburger from start to finish. I was confident all along the GOPer would win – because there was nothing real which would indicate that a GOP-leaning district was going to repudiate the GOP and Donald Trump. I believed this because I didn’t find any facts to dispute it and all my knowledge indicated it would be like that. But there we went, for weeks people salivating over it…and pouring in untold millions of dollars based upon reports which were simply false.

It is rather sad that it has to be this way – and the fix for it would be easy, and quick. All the MSM would have to do is report things straight for just a few weeks and their credibility would be restored. They won’t do it, at least not any time soon, because most of them are committed to the Progressive cause and all of them are fearful of the wrath of the Progressive gate-keepers if they step out of line. So, for now, all we can be is skeptics.

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19 thoughts on “When Reading the News, Skepticism is the Way to Go

  1. Retired Spook June 24, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    I’ve said the same thing at least a couple times in the recent past. At least in the political arena I start out by figuring everything I read is a lie, or at the very least, a distortion of the truth. Then if its a topic then if it really interests me, I’ll do some research to see if it’s true. It’s become really rare to read something and take it at face value. That’s kind of sad.

    • Amazona June 24, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      I agree. And I find that I really miss newspapers. I loved the whole experience—-making that first cup of coffee in the morning and sitting down with a paper or two. In Denver, the paper I liked, the Rocky Mountain News, went out of business, and the remaining paper, the Denver Post, is a Leftist rag. I bought one a couple of years ago to look for something in the want ads, and there were hardly any classified ads at all. I still think papers would survive if they offered something other than recycled Leftist crap.

      I watch a local newscast a couple of times a week, but turn off the national “news” because I don’t believe anything the nationals have to say and they usually just tick me off.

      • M. Noonan June 25, 2017 / 12:22 am

        I watch local news mostly for the weather report – national news only when there’s some major story going on where video is worth seeing. But, mostly, it’s just garbage…when not flat-out falsehoods, so filled with misdirection as to be nearly worthless as a means of conveying information. There’s a few websites I count on to actually get a true story – Legal Insurrection, Hot Air…places like that. Then there are some places I go for jokes/commentary (Ace of Spades, eg). But mostly I see what people are talking about, see if there is any actual fact involved, and then review the whole situation as best I can to determine if there’s any merit to the story.

  2. Cluster June 25, 2017 / 9:24 am

    Journalism is dead and I too watch very little of it anymore. I can no longer listen to the 25 year old political expert providing their “agenda driven” talking point analysis and then preen as if they have just offered some insight no one else has thought of. Additionally, there is evidently no accountability in media anymore as ALL of these pundits we continue to be subjected to, have been wrong so often that they would no longer be employed if it were any other industry.

    • Ryan Murphy June 25, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      On many of these stories, if they were,in any their industry they wouldn’t just be unemployed, they would be legally liable.

      • Amazona June 25, 2017 / 2:00 pm

        Ryan, they won’t be held accountable because their lies and ineptness (not that the two are mutually exclusive) feed the agendas of their bosses.

        Journalism was once a noble profession in which the goal was to present facts, untainted by bias, to the people. Now it is a joke, the word itself ought to always be enclosed in quotation marks, and it has become nothing but a vehicle for misleading the public and pushing Leftist agendas. Visual medium “journalists” seem to think their job is to slam out “gotchas” at those who represent the opposition, to embarrass them or discredit them, while fawning over those on their side of the position.

      • Amazona June 25, 2017 / 3:35 pm

        I think it is time to define “freedom of the press” as it is so often being used now to protect actual subversion and efforts to overthrown a properly and legally elected government. When a newspaper knowingly publishes material illegally obtained, material that is classified and essential to national defense, because in so doing it might undermine the authority of the government, it should not be protected under an interpretation of the First Amendment.

        Subversion and sedition are not guaranteed rights under any part of our Constitution.

        As for protecting “sources” let those “journalists” who suddenly find some form of journalistic integrity stand behind their determination to refuse to give the names of people they know have broken the law. That is, let them be fined and even jailed, as co-conspirators in efforts to overthrow the government.

        I know, there is a fine line between fighting corruption (which may depend on publishing sensitive information) and simply trying to get rid of people who by winning an election ticked other people off, but it is increasingly clear this is a line that must be defined and clarified. We are seeing story after story being published in all the media that consist only of lies, innuendo and implication, all with the intent of undermining the existing governmental structure so a different structure can be established, and this is not the same as publishing facts about true corruption or malfeasance.

  3. Cluster June 26, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Is this a joke?

    In an effort to curb fossil fuel pollution, yesterday morning, California Governor Jerry Brown banned most cars and ordered the use of animals for all transportation in and through the state’s capital city.

    “I hereby ban all vehicles that use any petroleum products in and throughout the city of Sacramento. I order that only horses and mules are to be used for any type of transportation.”

    http://www.redstate.com/erniemannix/2017/06/25/california-gov.-jerry-brown-bans-fossil-fuel-vehicles-sacramento%C2%A0/

    • Amazona June 26, 2017 / 2:18 pm

      Of course it is a joke. Libs don’t believe in using animals for anything. In Boulder one cannot “own” a “pet” but is merely an animal caretaker.

      The only acceptable form of transportation for the Left is bicycles or on foot, though these do still carry the heavy ecological burden of petroleum-based bicycle tires and that pesky (so ignored) fact of so many fancy brands of running and walking shoes being made by what is close to slave labor.

      • jdge1 June 27, 2017 / 2:45 am

        Except when they’re touring in their jets complaining about climate control.

      • Amazona June 27, 2017 / 9:29 am

        But even in those jets, they fret about the enslavement of the innocent animals, and send millions to PETA—-an organization that kills hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats a year.

  4. Cluster June 27, 2017 / 8:21 am

    So I just sat through a 10 minute lecture from the the chief POS Joe Scarborough on PMSNBC about the proposed healthcare legislation and Joe insisted that the CBO scoring is correct (although the CBO has gotten nearly everything wrong in the past) and anyone who challenges the “non partisan” CBO is simply a partisan hack. But that wasn’t the end of it. Joe went on to claim that the draconian cuts to Medicaid (when in reality the “cuts” are a slow down of the growth), will result in poor people dying and that rural hospitals will close. That sounds pretty scary right? Well for those of us who pay attention, I don’t ever recall Joe ringing the alarm bill over these reports under the Obama admin:

    Of the 25 states that have seen at least one rural hospital close since 2010, those with the most closures are located in the South, according to research from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program.

    http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/a-state-by-state-breakdown-of-80-rural-hospital-closures.html

    It also clearly shows that most of these hospitals were located in poor areas, but evidently these closures did not put any lives in danger.

    I want to ask a progressive if they finally now understand why we think so little of them.

  5. Cluster June 27, 2017 / 8:50 am

    So now as I sit here listening to the brain trust at Morning Joe still trying to wrap their pointed heads around the reason why jihadis hates us, and trying to figure out why an Islamist who comes from a middle class family and speaks five languages would want to kill us, I am once again reminded of how dangerously stupid these people are.

    Don’t the Islamists understand how enlightened we are?

  6. Cluster June 27, 2017 / 10:41 am

    What he said:

    “I think the Democrats’ irresponsibility is totally unbounded,” Gingrich told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” program. “This notion that the Republicans want to kill people, it’s really, it’s almost pathetic that the Democratic Party has no new ideas, no new solutions, takes no responsibility for the disaster that they passed with Obamacare. All they have is wild charges that no serious American is going to look at as an actual problem.”

    http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/Gingrich-Tackles-Democrats-Liars/2017/06/27/id/798440/

    • Retired Spook June 27, 2017 / 11:51 am

      My sense is that the Democrats, while trying to thwart Trump at ever turn, are really only succeeding in marginalizing themselves. They aren’t engaged in anything that makes your average, uninvolved American jump up and say, “wow, they’re really looking out for me.”

      I had breakfast with a distant relative back shortly after the inauguration. He had some fears about whether the riots would continue and what effect that might have, and I told him I shared the same fears. This morning I got this email from him:

      If this is what you meant months ago about things to come with Pres Trump ability to govern and it this is all true, did you have an inside insight?

      With a divided electorate what would Obama and company hope to gain if the other side should
      rise up.

      Sad to say the least.

      Bob

      Subject: OFA

      Read CAREFULLY !!

      I do not understand how living in a country with its democracy established over 200 years ago, and now, for the first time in history, suddenly we have one of our former presidents set up a group called “Organizing for Action” – (OFA).

      OFA – 30,000 strong working to disrupt everything that our current president is trying to do. This goes against our Democracy, it is an operation that will destroy our way of governing. It goes against our Constitution, our laws, and the processes established over 200 years ago. If this is allowed to proceed then we will be living in chaos very much like third world countries are run. What good is it to have an established government if it is not going to be respected and allowed to follow our laws? If this does not scare you, then we are in worse trouble than you know.

      It is explained below. Do your part: read it and at least pass this on so others will know what we are up against. We are losing our country and we are so compliant. We are becoming a “PERFECT TARGET” for our enemy! Article from the New York Post – If you had an army some 30,000 strong and a court system stacked over the decades with judges who would allow you to break the laws, how much damage could you do to a country? We are about to find out in America!

      The ex-president said he was going to stay involved through community organizing and speak out on the issues and that appears to be one post-administration promise he intends to keep. He has moved many of his administration’s top dogs over to an organization called Organizing for Action (OFA). OFA is behind the strategic and tactical implementation of the resistance we are seeing across America, and politically active courts are providing the leverage for this revolution.

      OFA is dedicated to organizing communities for “progressive” change. Issues are gun control, socialist healthcare, abortion, sexual equality, climate change, and of course, immigration reform. OFA members were propped up by the ex-president’s message from the shadows: “Organizing is the building block of everything great we’ve accomplished. Organizers around the country are fighting for change in their communities – and OFA is one of the groups on the front lines. Commit to this work in 2016 and beyond.”

      OFA’s website says it obtained its “digital” assets from the ex-president’s re-election effort and that he inspired the movement. In short, it’s the shadow government organization aimed at resisting and tearing down the Constitutional Republic – AMERICA

      Paul Sperry, writing for the New York Post, says OFA will fight President Donald Trump at every turn of his presidency and the ex-president “will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.” Sperry writes that the ex-president is setting up a shadow government to sabotage the incoming administration through a network of non-profits led by OFA, which is growing its war chest (more than $40 million) and has some 250 offices nationwide. OFA IRS filings, according to Sperry, indicate OFA has 32,525 volunteers nationwide. The ex-president and his wife will oversee the operation from their home/ office near the White House.

      Think about how this work – for example: Trump issues an immigration executive order; OFA signals for protests and statements from pro-immigrant groups; ACLU lawyers file lawsuits in jurisdictions where activist judges obstruct the laws; volunteers are called to protest at airports and Congressional town hall meetings; the leftist media springs to action; the twitter sphere lights up with social media; violence follows – all emanating from the ex-president’s signal that he is heartened by the protests.

      If Barack Obama did not do enough to destroy this country in the 8 years he was in office, it appears his future plans are to destroy the foundation on which this country has operated on for the last 241 years.

      My response:

      Bob,

      This is exactly what I was talking about. To be honest, I’m not as worried as I was when you and I talked over breakfast a few months ago. The media can’t really report on this movement, certainly not accurately because (1) they haven’t had any successes in actually disrupting anything, and (2) the media supports anything that is anti-Trump, but how do they come out and say “we support anarchy and violent overthrow of our government,” and maintain any shred of credibility? This is really a fringe movement, and I think should they attempt something drastic, they’ll wish they hadn’t.

      • Amazona June 27, 2017 / 4:33 pm

        The comment about “..a court system stacked over the decades with judges who would allow you to break the laws..” brings me back to my belief that we need to make the oaths of office binding.

        Would that solve everything? No. Would it create some additional problems? Probably. But I think it would have a chilling effect on rogue judges.

        Right now, a Liberal Activist Judge can rule pretty much any way he or she wants. It is almost impossible to prosecute a judge for judicial misconduct, making judges essentially the law rather than overseers of legal administration. But let this Liberal Activist Judge realize, prior to ruling, that his or her ruling will be carefully scrutinized to make sure it conforms to the oath of office taken by the judge—that is, that it is consistent with protecting and defending the Constitution and the law—and there will be some second thoughts. When any claim of violation will have to be investigated, with the judge as defendant of his or her ruling, and any proven violation will mean loss of the job and the pension and the benefits, and I believe that suddenly the Constitution and the law will be studied, and applied, a lot more diligently.

        We need a multi-pronged approach. We need a DOJ that will prosecute crimes, no matter who commits them, and this includes the crimes of sedition. We need oversight of our judiciary to make sure they are restrained by the actual written laws and Constitution and not allowed to legislate from the bench. We need a strong, coherent voice to say, over and over again till it sinks in, that this whole OFA and “Resist” movement and so on are all subversive, dedicated to the overthrow not just of one man so many hate but of the system itself. We need to find the backbone to stand up to bullies, whether they are flying the flag of racism or gender politics, and call them out for what they are. We need to stick to the message that judging anyone by the color of his skin is racist and bigoted and unacceptable, no matter who is doing it.

        The return to sanity is not going to be an easy path, but we have to do it, and I think we are starting to understand that.

        Right this minute we need a medium, or several media, willing to run and/or print the new Project Veritas tapes of CNN people admitting they know there is no real story about Russia and that they are just promoting the lie because it results in ratings.

        (“In a video released overnight by ‘Project Veritas’ founder James O’Keefe, CNN producer John Bonifield is caught on film admitting that the network’s constant coverage of the Trump-Russia narrative is “mostly bullshit” and “the president is probably right to say [CNN] is witch-hunting [him].”

        He also noted the story is “good for business.”)

        https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/06/27/american_pravda_project_veritas_catches_cnn_producer_admitting_russia_story_is_bullshit_about_ratings.html

      • Retired Spook June 28, 2017 / 9:40 am

        Right now, a Liberal Activist Judge can rule pretty much any way he or she wants. It is almost impossible to prosecute a judge for judicial misconduct, making judges essentially the law rather than overseers of legal administration.

        It seems to me that the only remedy for that is a constitutional amendment that would allow for the establishment of an independent legal oversight board, starting at the federal level and working all the way down to the local courts, a bi-partisan board that has the power to suspend judges for egregious behavior pending a hearing. I can’t imagine how we ever get to that point. I doubt that the founders ever imagined the level of corruption and cronyism that is so prevalent today, at all levels of government, but particularly in the judicial system.

  7. Amazona June 27, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    According to a recent report from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in 2014 federal employees spent 3,468,170 hours on “official time” (i.e., a term that, ironically, means working on union business). The report continues, “The estimated total payroll costs, average salary and benefits, for FY 2014 official time hours were $162,522,763

    Hmm. We spent an estimated 162 million-plus dollars to pay federal employees to work on union business, which by the way included trying to get Democrats elected. 3,468,170 hours.

    It’s a good article. http://www.ipi.org/ipi_issues/detail/when-public-servants-become-public-serpents

    • Cluster June 28, 2017 / 8:11 am

      Deep State

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