Debunk Special

John Rentoul

dwisdom 197x300 Debunk SpecialThe 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.

And plenty more, but buy the book, go to Bradley’s website, Sciencebase, and follow him on Twitter.

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.

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  • creggancowboy

    So Broxted is out in the exercise yard and says “Who is Olivia Bays? Which wing is she on? Political prisoners?”

  • porkfright

    So Britain is not becoming a more unequal society and British rail fares are not expensive byn European standards? Yeah, Right.

  • frances smith

    there’s debunking and debunking. this book rentoul presents to us seems to be debunking trivia that most people either never believed anyway, or don’t particularly care about. this is hardly herioc debunking.

    whereas the rentoul bebunking seems to consist of taking truths, fiddling the figures, and trying to find ways to prove that blair wasn’t as bad as many believe him to be, which is sort of not so much debunking an untruth as trying to impose his own version of events on the rest of us.

    come back with some heroic examples of debunking rentoul, and then you might get some credit. how about a bit of debunking of the iain duncan smith welfare myth? or do you like that one too much to tell the truth on it?

  • frances smith

    you don’t want to go down in history, rentoul, as the man who debunked on behalf of the 1% do you?

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