“The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking.”
On Sunday, The New York Times actually shared some “good news.” Contrary to public opinion… or more accurately, public perception, crime is down. New Yorkers are safer than they think. Their fears are baseless.
If you know me at all, or if you are any good at reading between the lines, you can easily detect the sarcasm here. Or perhaps it’s merely a healthy dose of skepticism. In any case, the purpose of this post is not to bash the Times. If anything the newspaper, which, in my humble opinion, joins the rest of the mainstream media in demonstrating a blatant anti-law enforcement bias, actually made a fairly decent attempt at presenting both sides of this particular story.
The real purpose of this post is to encourage independent, critical thinking – a skill that is not taught (much less encouraged) in American schools and hence one that I find sorely lacking among the vast majority of Americans.
Of course it is far easier to take what the government – or any other authority – tells us on face value than to question it. Deep down those of us who live in free societies want to believe that authorities have our best interests at heart – so it is far easier to believe that our duly-elected leaders, teachers, police and the media are telling us the truth rather than what we want to hear.
ISIS is being defeated, the economy has recovered, unemployment is down and – at least in New York City – crime has declined as well. A rosy picture indeed. And why not believe it? After all, those who are telling it say they have data to prove their point. Numbers. Cold, hard facts. That’s all the proof you need. Or so they say.
But the numbers can be – and are – easily manipulated by those who provide them and those who report them. This tactic is hardly unique to one political party – or even one group, for that matter. Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, economists, the media and even scientists engage in it.
Acknowledging all of this is the key to sorting through the BS and drawing your own conclusions. It is just one step though. Once you realize that any data can be – and is – manipulated, you must then ask the tough questions. Who is manipulating it? How are they doing so? How do they benefit from twisting the facts?
In some cases finding the answer is simply a question of following the money but in most cases it’s simply a question of using a little bit of common sense.
Speaking of which, here’s a newsflash for The New York Times: perception is reality.