Rod Dreher's Response to George Gilder's Epistemedia
Reponse originally given at The Media Project's conference “Fact vs. Rumor: Journalism in the 21st Century”.
By Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons and columnist/blogger for the Dallas Morning News.
I’m glad George Gilder brought up the issue of global warming,
because it so often epitomizes the promise and the peril of the
Internet in the search for truth. As it happens, I don’t share George’s
view on global warming, and when I say so on my blog
or in my newspaper, I hear from readers who write to tell me in no
unequivocal terms what a complete idiot I am. And they usually send
links to websites that back up their claims with utter certitude.
Which is funny, because when newspaper colleagues of mine who are
global warming skeptics write about their doubts, they too are
bombarded by partisans who write to tell them in no unequivocal terms
what complete idiots they are. And they usually send links to websites
that back up their claims with utter certitude.
While blogs and websites can be helpful in analyzing issues and
truth claims, many people experience them as an echo chamber, to
confirm what they already believe. At their best, blogs serve as a
useful corrective to distorted establishment media accounts. But at
their worst, they feed a dangerously subjective mentality that the
American satirist Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.”:
“Truthiness” is the idea that the most reliable way of knowing
things is not through examination of facts or logic, but intuition. If
it feels like it must be true, it’s not necessarily truthful, but it’s
truthy – and that’s enough. Truth can be unsettling, but truthiness is
therapeutic. As a journalist, I find it alarming how many people these
days, on both the left and the right, are not really interested in
truth, but rather in truthiness.