Words and Weapons – The Chronicle Review

An intriguing classroom exchange explained by Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs:  Can we say anything that we want?  A discussion on demagoguery, facts, and opinion via Words and Weapons – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


4 thoughts on “Words and Weapons – The Chronicle Review”

  1. I’m not sure that I understand the point of contention here. The author is implying that facts should be beyond dispute, while opinions based on those facts are justifiable. Looking beyond the,”Sandy Hook is a Hoax” stupidity, there is a fundamental problem that remains unaddressed: who is to be trusted as an arbiter of fact? Who decides whether another’s statement is fact or opinion? In an age when statistics are easily manipulated, PR professionals fill the internet with spin, and media has becoming increasingly polarized, can the casual reader really tell what the facts are? If students don’t have time to sift through multiple sources for every story, are they not forced to grant certain sources more clout than others?

    Perhaps the author is arguing that universities should teach their students to give special status to Reuters or the AP? If so, what incentives do these two news agencies have to not spin their own agendas as their customer base continues to shrink? Beyond the clear appeal to emotion by the author, I see very little in the way substantive complaint or solution. Students who choose to listen to corrupt sources of information have chosen those sources because they’ve found them more trust worthy than the more mainstream media.

    This problem did not arise ex nihilo, we brought it upon ourselves. By choosing not to support the news institutions that we used to trust, Americans weakened the moderate news outlets’ positions and forced them to pander to narrower audiences by saying more and more outlandish things. The results are undeniable; the rising generation is becoming incapable of discerning truth from error.

  2. This article basically asserts that everyone is entitled to their own opinions as long as those opinions are based on facts. I agree with her and with Taylor that while facts and statistics should be objective and straightforward that while we get our “facts” from different sources with supposedly ulterior motives, its becoming harder and harder to discern what is a fact or a statistic, and what is being skewed or not told. Even numbers can be used subjectively. What needs to happen for facts to become facts again? I think fact checker sites like Politifact are a step in the right direction, but how can we be sure that they’re objective as well?

  3. I think this is a really interesting discussion. There are definitely multiple ways in which facts are changed. I liked Taylor’s comment about the media changing facts to appeal to a certain audience. Often these changes seem to be obviously biased. On the other hand, I am currently in an econometrics class. We focus a lot of data and obtaining results. I am shocked by the amount of ways data can be examined correctly and producing varying results. Problems with this kind of fact is even harder to discern.

  4. I agree with all of the above statements, distinguishing between truth, half truth, and even blatant lie is becoming so difficult in all aspects of life, that it ultimately plays an effect on the way society and relations are managed. We often take things we find on the internet at face value because that is often what we are taught, but in reality we need to learn to dig a little deeper and find more research.

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