The highest form of journalism, I like to think, is debunking. I do enjoy a good debunk. In The Independent on 27 December, for example, I tried to report the surprising evidence that Britain is not becoming a more unequal society under the Coalition Government (and might stay that way).
It is why I enjoy bloggers who, when they sniff an easy assumption or a hypocritical bit of opposition opportunism, take the trouble to find out the facts, such as that British rail fares are not expensive by European standards.
And it is why one of the books I most enjoyed over Christmas was Deceived Wisdom, a book of debunkings of popular belief by David Bradley.
Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand. Nowhere on Earth can be “too cold for snow”. Goldfish can be trained to find their way through mazes or to push levers to obtain food, which proves that they have a memory longer than a few seconds.
He also has a good quotation from Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science … is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’”
I should declare an indirect interest, in that Bradley and I are published by Elliott & Thompson, whose Olivia Bays has an eye for blog themes that can be turned into books.Tagged in: myths
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