Ignorance != non-existence

In his latest book on bias in the media elite, Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite, Bernard Goldberg makes the point that just because the media elite says that liberal bias isn’ present in its treatment of the news doesn’t make it non-existent. Translating this loosely into the realm of software development, this same argument is often grounds for not having a developer test his own code. (What bugs?) More takeaways from this read:

  • Journalism is about truth-telling, and should be devoid of interpretation (commentary). Don’t masquerade one for the other. (Step 9 (of 12): Don’t confuse journalist with activist.)
  • Significance lies both in what is said and what is not said. Sure, this should be obvious, but in reality it seems like whitespace isn’ given equal due.
  • Critical thinking is more important now than ever before. What is the truth? What bias is present? I was expecting X but am being told Y (or nothing at all)…what should this be telling me?
  • Sometimes it’s not a question of whether something can survive, but if it in fact deserves to survive. This last point reminds me of the recurring sentiment in Michael Crichton‘s fiction of not contemplating the costs of various technological advances (can vs. should).

Finally, one particular quote in the book made by Andy Rooney grabbed my attention: Our lives could not survive all the truth about everything. I sure wish that I had more context behind Mr. Rooney’s statement. It was uttered in the context of changing prior statements made to Larry King–almost as if to somehow justify spin/bias. Taken simply at face value, the statement rings true; however, it shouldn’t be used to justify lying, etc. Again, it would have been nice to have been a fly on the wall when this statement was originally made…

The Truth will set you free!

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.