The Other I

January 12, 2015

Don’t distract me with the facts

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 4:16 pm

Paul Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement-en.svg

I am old enough to have discovered rather more often than I’d like to admit that I’m wrong.  But given our fallible natures, I’m not often upset when people disagree with me.

Except when people make pronouncements that are simply contradicted by the facts.  You know, the “don’t distract me with the facts, I’ve already made up my mind” approach.  If people don’t believe climate change is occurring, they don’t know the facts.  Or if they don’t think it’s at least partly caused by human actions, given what we know today, it takes a lot of explaining.

But climate-change deniers are amateurs compared to Steven Emerson. How could someone who calls himself an expert on terrorism say on Fox News that only Muslims live in Birmingham, and that non-Muslims never go into the city?  Or that in London Muslim religious police patrol the streets and  beat “anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire”?

Okay, so Emerson apologized for his error.  That’s not good enough.

I’ve never had a whole lot of respect for Fox News.  But what kind of responsible network ever identified this man as an expert on terrorism in the first place?  I think the blame doesn’t stop with Emerson.  And I don’t think an apology is enough.  I think Fox News needs to investigate its principles of journalism.

Still, the avalanche of ridicule from Twitter after Emerson’s comment is satisfying.  As ju suis charlie says, ridicule can be a powerful force.



  1. Je ne suis pas Chalie, by any means, but I think the answer to your question has to do with an idea of journalism that is just about completely divorced from facts and evidence. It is a thing in and for itself. Say whatever seems opportune and profitable. Viz. Der Stuermer and Pravda.


    Comment by Thomas J. Hubschman — January 12, 2015 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

    • It sounds as I should be grateful that I’m not even exposed to the need to avoid Fox News. Sounds even worse than I thought.

      Je ne suis pas Charlie, either, although I personally think that Charlie’s mode of action was/is often self-defeating. If you really want to influence people, I think it is important not just to say what one thinks, but also to ask what might be the best way to express it in order to at least get the opposition to listen.

      Confession: I know what Pravda is. But I can only guess at Stuermer. Neither my Latin, Spanish or smatterings of French or German are enlightening me. Help?

      On Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 4:55 PM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — January 12, 2015 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  2. A Nazi publication, a periodical that also ran cartoons, of Jews, very similar to what Chalie does for Muslims (but does not do for Jews in anything like the same way).


    Comment by Thomas J. Hubschman — January 12, 2015 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  3. May be one more teir is needed at the bottomof the pyramid: Sensatuonalism/Attention Grabbing (not really engaging in an argument, more of ‘I’m saying this, this is it.’) ?

    Didn’t know about the hierarchy – thanks.


    Comment by tskraghu — January 13, 2015 @ 1:55 am | Reply

    • Oh yes, of course – the Attention Grabber! I call it the two-year-old-syndrome.

      On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 1:56 AM, The Other I wrote:



      Comment by Terry Sissons — January 13, 2015 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

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