Ignoring Evidence, Inventing Evidence, Redefining “Woman,” and Journalism Unbound

Ignoring Evidence, Inventing Evidence, Redefining “Woman,” and Journalism Unbound September 17, 2019


Newspeak, illustrated
The three principal government slogans of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I hate to break it to you, but news reports in the media can’t always be trusted to be entirely accurate.  Here is an example of what I mean:


“Not Only Didn’t We Find Water On An Earth-Like Exoplanet, But We Can’t With Current Technology”


But don’t imagine that such foul-ups occur only in controversial areas like science.  They can also happen even with regard to more tranquil and settled subjects, such as politics:


CNN:  New York Times reporters grilled about botched Kavanaugh story”


National Review:  “NYT Reporter Blames Editors for Removing Exculpatory Information from Kavanaugh Story”


The Times leadership blames the reporters.  The reporters blames the Times editors.  Where’s my popcorn?


CNN:  “New York Times’ botched Kavanaugh story the latest in series of blunders from Opinion section”


National Review:  “The Ongoing Smear Campaign against Brett Kavanaugh”


National Review:  “The New York Times Still Doesn’t Understand What It Did: It had blockbuster new evidence exonerating Kavanaugh but instead emphasized a flimsy allegation.”


National Review:  “The Architect of the Latest Kavanaugh Smear Just Gave a Self-Damning Radio Interview: Her approach to reporting the story is a textbook case of confirmation bias.”


Seeing this was such sweet sorrow:


CNN:  “The re-emergence of Kavanaugh controversy could hurt Democrats’ Senate chances in 2020”


And, even if you read no other news story on the latest Kavanaugh controversy, you should pay careful attention to this one, which comes from an impeccably reliable source:


The Babylon Bee:  New York Times Reveals Source On Kavanaugh Allegations Was Reputable Nigerian Prince”




But let’s get back to science!


“Merriam-Webster Adds Non-Binary Definition of ‘They’ to Dictionary”


“Redefine ‘Woman,’ Activists Urge: And then they came for the dictionary.”


It’s always a healthy trend in the sciences in particular and in language and culture more generally — well, isn’t it? — when words lose precision and meanings become fuzzy.


From the Wikipedia entry on “Newspeak”:


Newspeak is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell. To meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism (Ingsoc) in Oceania, the ruling Party created Newspeak, a controlled language of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, meant to limit the freedom of thought — personal identity, self-expression, free will — that threatens the ideology of the régime of Big Brother and the Party, who have criminalized such concepts into thoughtcrime, as contradictions of Ingsoc orthodoxy.

In “The Principles of Newspeak”, the appendix to the novel, George Orwell explains that Newspeak usage follows most of the English grammar, yet is a language characterised by a continually diminishing vocabulary; complete thoughts reduced to simple terms of simplistic meaning. . . .

The political purpose of Newspeak is to eliminate the expression of the shades of meaning inherent to ambiguity and nuance from Oldspeak (Standard English) in order to reduce the language’s function of communication, by way of simplistic concepts of simple construction — pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink — which linguistically reinforce the State’s totalitarian dominance of the people of Oceania. 


From “The Second Coming,” by William Butler Yeats:


Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.



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