Things We Know
There is a difference between not knowing the limits of your knowledge and believing that your knowledge has no limits. The former is simply ignorance while the latter is weaponized, willful ignorance of the Dunning-Kruger variety. We’ve approached a period described by Isaac Asimov where “my ignorance is greater than your knowledge”. A willfully ignorance Society is dangerous. We can and should do better; but, where do we start? We need to start with the things we know: the laws of physics and (behavioral) economics. I say behavioral economics because I’d like to include sociology and psychology and economics is often appropriately referred to as the dismal science. The court of public opinion exists but we need to use a commonly agreed-upon set of tools to properly vet information, e.g., Federal Rules of Evidence.
Theories proven through repeated experimentation conducted using the scientific method are considered to be laws of science. You may recall the scientific method and its antecedents applied in business, statistics, and startups: a falsifiable hypothesis, independent and dependent variables, control(s), test, analysis, and a conclusion. A falsifiable hypothesis and repeat-ability are paramount. Different scientists can repeat a test under the same or similar conditions and reach the same conclusion.
Can we say the same thing about conclusions from news articles? No — that does not appear to be the purpose of journalism. We see daily reports of violent crime on local TV news despite crime rates at historical lows. News attached to advertising sales is often disconnected from reality.
The media suffers from an erosion of trust. Journalism could be more like science. Imagine stories with no anonymous sources and links to verifiable documents using accepted methods of verification.
I attended an engineering magnet school in high school. I still remember my engineering teacher-Coach K. He was an amazing teacher. Early on, Coach K taught students the importance structured problem-solving. He taught us to approach solving engineering problems with a process: Given (Known) > Find (Unknown) > Laws > Equation >Diagrams >Point of Reference> Work> Solution.
I am starting a project called Box Breaker Media where this concept of scientific repeat-ability, non-anonymous sources, and user-verified source documents are utilized to produce investigative reports about things we should know. My first story will be a report on what I discovered while becoming a whistle-blower while working at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A List of Things We Know
The Laws of Physics
The Laws of (Behavioral) Economics
The Laws of Society
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Federal Rules of Evidence