It has been a long time since I wrote a personal blog post for Your Write. But a quote I heard on RN News this morning prompted me to put aside my other forms of procrastination… sorry – I mean hard work – and finally sit down and write.
Here’s a link to the story which got me thinking.
“Facts are sometimes contentious, and what you might think is right somebody else might think is completely untrue.”
This was Acting Prime Minister, Michael McCormack’s response when asked about two MP’s spreading misinformation.
It comes as no surprise that politicians (like everyone!) sometimes say silly things. Our Acting Prime Minister seems to court controversy, and the men he referred to in his sound bite thrive on it. Some cynical people might even suggest they use controversy in an attempt to justify their taxpayer funded paycheques.
I would argue that facts are not contentious. Facts are facts. Facts like I am typing these words onto my keyboard. Or I just ate the last of the Christmas ham in my fridge. Or (just to use a couple of – cough – random examples that come to mind) hydroxychloroquine has not been proven to cure COVID-19. Or even a $2k fluorescent light sold by a delusional chef will not help protect those huddled around it from a virus.
But it’s the interpretation of those facts which can be contentious. Take my stunning ham-related revelation mentioned previously. I did indeed just eat Christmas ham which has been sitting in my fridge since that festive day. It was, to the best of my knowledge, the last of it.
Now if I had said: It’s weeks past Christmas and I’m probably going to give myself food poisoning by eating the last of my ham. It sounds reasonable to marginally more interesting. ‘Marginally’ being the most important word in that sentence. It’s hardly front page news, but a microbiologist might dispute the ‘fact’ and tell me that if it’ been stored correctly, it’s probably still perfectly safe.
The fact is that I ate the Christmas ham. It’s my opinion that I may be inviting food poisoning upon myself. Writing that ham is going to give me food poisoning is really just spreading misinformation and maligning the good name of Christmas ham.
Now forgetting my inconsequential choice of lunch, imagine if I’d written that hydroxychloroquine cures corona virus. Or that children wearing masks is akin to child abuse (it makes my blood boil to even write that comment!) They are not facts. Hell – they are not even particularly good or trustworthy opinions!
And I really think that’s what we need to be mindful of facts versus the interpretation of those facts (to create opinions). Both as creators of content (journalists, blog writers, politicians giving sound bites etc) as well as the consumers of that content, we need to be mindful of the colouring of those facts, whose lens we’re viewing this content through and what interpretation they are putting on those so-called ‘facts’.
Which is my opinion. Not a fact.