11 November 2006

Keepers of the Worldview

A theory is comprised of a set of testable hypotheses. By contrast, an ideology is not subject to tests. For some reason, the world of science and technology has been largely defined by theory but the world of business and politics has not. In the place of theories that are continually challenged we have, instead, defenders of worldviews.

Today, the keepers of the worldviews in the world of politics are, oddly enough, media personalities. I rarely watch TV news but did this election week, sitting in a hotel in the DC area on election night and the next two evenings. I was flabbergasted by how seriously the political reporters take themselves - Lou Dobbs, Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews (who confuses hard-hitting questions with rudely interrupting), and Bill O'Reilly obviously are so impressed with their view of the world and the importance of articulating that for us mere mortals who would otherwise be unable to make sense of the world.

But in this world of complexity where there is enough data to support just about any reasonable worldview, it is vital to have keepers of the worldview who defend it from the facts, events, and people who would erode its authority. Or at least that is what the elites seem to believe.

The truth is there is an enormous amount of power and wealth to be had in pushing a worldview that is accepted. All of these personalities are paid huge salaries and have real influence over policy. Sadly, what they are doing is often little based on theory and more often seems based on ideology. Just imagine public policy making as dramatic and as impressive advances as science and technology has over the last century. Just imagine the adoption of the scientific method in the world of politics. Perhaps it's time the FCC stopped fining indecency and began fining fact-free assertions.

No comments: