On inevitability

While cooking dinner, I was pondering a twitter conversation, and some news reports that had been referenced. With my vast expanse of science journalism (hah) on the one hand, and personal insight into major newsworthy events on the other, I realized there was a universal law waiting to be articulated.

Here, then, is Grant’s First Law of Journalism:

All news articles contain at best one error, and probably more than one untruth.

If this is true, then whenever you read, hear or watch a news report, you must know that it is somehow fundamentally flawed if not not outright wrong. And if you can’t find anything obviously wrong, you’re not looking hard enough.


About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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12 Responses to On inevitability

  1. Bob O'Hara says:

    I shall consider this post a news report.

  2. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Epimenides paradox?

  3. Bob O'Hara says:

    Are you calling Richard a Cretan?

  4. Bart Penders says:

    The second law will probably deal with the expertise required to locate the error and/or untruth in relation to the audience the newspaper article is aimed at.

  5. Nicolas Fanget says:

    I agree, and would expand GFLJ thusly:
    "All news articles contain at best one error, at least one misrepresentation and probably more than one untruth." © RPG

  6. Richard P. Grant says:

     I had a witty riposte to Bob, but was at the ORCID meeting all morning and couldn’t comment here from my iPhone so the moment was lost.
    Nicolas, I did wonder about the ‘misrepresentation’ bit, but wasn’t sure of my facts, so didn’t publish it.
    Of course, being older and wiser, I might now cast GFLJ as you did, with the disclaimer  ‘this might not be true; check your own facts’ smirk

  7. Heather Etchevers says:

    What a perfectly daft and quick post.

  8. Richard P. Grant says:

     double smirk

  9. Nicolas Fanget says:

    Of course, the misrepresentation that I made might be that there is no misrepresentation, and we are back with the Cretans…

  10. Richard P. Grant says:

     At least they serve decent coffee.

  11. Richard Wintle says:

    Bah, Bob beat me to it by four days. But, since the question has been begged… does this also apply to blog posts? How about blog comments? The llama is equipped with fins for swimming and a beak for eating honey, you know.

  12. Richard P. Grant says:

     Doubly so. And the lurkers agree with me in email.

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