Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Little Research Goes a Long Way

My boss keeps recommending some book I hadn't heard of The Amateur, by Edward Klein. So before I pay money for some critical of Obama book I look up the author. He was once an editor at the NY Times magazine and had previously written Some Kennedy books and pseudo novels about Obama. A bit off already, but he had journalistic standing at some point. So I read the NY Times review of his book. They note a glaring vagueness and lack of evidence for his supposed over 200 interviews and the occasionally suspiciously similar to already existing quotes usage. If that previous sentence made sense.

Klein brought up a lot of unnamed sources claiming to be close to the president or his campaigns, but little evidence and even sometimes contradictions, as with his Bill Clinton quotes, lead me to believe he wrote what he wanted rather than found out. On top of trying to paint an incredibly centrist politician as some sort of radical anti-capitalist Israel hating self obsessed monster, Klein wants us to believe Obama is somehow less qualified than the alternatives.

As the title of the post says, a little research goes a long way. He wrote an article version for a known birther and UN conspiracy site, the American Thinker. He quotes unverifiable sources with no evidence. Klein is obviously just pushing his personal agenda over anything else, and this is pretty consistent with political books. I never buy or read them unless I see some reason to believe they actually back up their claims, that they aren't simply vague political points designed to be read and consumed by others who already agree. Most of these books claiming to be some great exposé tend to be little more than a Bill O'reilly or Rush Limbaugh rants about this or that liberal destroying the universe. Conspiracy theories do not journalism make.

I research authors and sources before I bother to read them. Unless they are open about being political treatises rather than pretending to espouse fact, they are worthless without good sources. Honest philosophical books are ok, they just need to be up front about having no proof. While a history of well researched and honest books is no guarantee a given author's next book will be the same, it is a good indicator. Each statement and source must be taken on its own merit, but it is not worth looking for a single good idea in the work of a political opportunist. It costs too much time and money otherwise.

Logic Priest

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