Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Intellectual Integrity

I am afraid that I do not have much of a posting today.

I had this beautiful post written, filled with all sorts of language that sounded quite powerful, as far as I can tell. Then, as I always do, when I got home from work I went online to double-check my facts.

This time, I discovered that I got some of those facts wrong.

It is quite common, when I double-check my facts, that I discover that I have gotten some details wrong. I make the corrections and then go through the article and make sure that my arguments are still sound.

There have been frustrating evenings when I KNOW that I had read something that I had included in the article. Yet, when it came to actually verifying my vital and important claim, I could not find what I needed. Instead of keeping the claims in the article, I delete that which I cannot support, no matter how wonderful it sounded.

Actually, the only job I was ever asked to leave was one in which I refused to write into an article some things that I could not cite as being true.

Also, I do not consider it sufficient to simply find somebody else who said the same thing. If the only source that I could find for a claim is a statement by Joe Blogger somewhere, who himself provides no citation or reference, then that is not good enough. I need a reliable source that is a little more reliable.

This evening, the damage done to my post as a result of fact-checking was fatal to my post. So, it goes into the scrap bin.

It would be wrong to do anything.

This type of concern might not bother some people. If they want to generate some reason to hate or condemn others, then it does not matter if the story is true or false. They will go with it, and let the truth lay battered and bleeding in the gutter. In fact, it is far too common.

However, I cannot do that. It is my contention that a substantial portion of the problems we face today would go away, if only writers would take a few minutes to double-check their claims, and delete those they cannot support. The more truth -- and the less fiction -- that there is circulating around out there, the easier it will be for us to make informed decisions.

No comments: