Yes. Let's say that. Then let's mosey right on past it, because I don't really feel like talking teen pregnancy with the old guy who thinks weed can drive you mad or that the 60s led to Penn State becoming Jerry Sandusky's serial rape free-fire zone 40 years after Woodstock. Instead lets move right to the "journalism" bit:Let’s say you wanted to understand a social problem in depth. Let’s say you wanted to move from a dry, statistical understanding of a problem to a rich, humane one. How would you do it? What steps would you take on your climb toward understanding?Well, obviously, first you’d start with the data. Let’s say, for example, you were studying teenage pregnancy...
Two things.The research helps you to make informed generalizations about how categories of people are behaving. If you use it correctly, you can even make snappy generalizations about classes of people that are fun and useful up to a point.But this work is insufficient for anyone seeking deep understanding. Unlike minnows, human beings don’t exist just as members of groups...We all slip into the general patterns of psychology and sociology sometimes, but we aren’t captured by them. People live and get pregnant one by one, and each life and each pregnancy has its own unlikely story. To move the next rung up the ladder of understanding you have to dive into the tangle of individual lives. You have to enter the realm of fiction, biography and journalism. My academic colleagues sometimes disparage journalism, but, when done right, it offers a higher form of knowing than social science research.By conducting sensitive interviews and by telling a specific story, the best journalism respects the infinite dignity of the individual, and the unique blend of thoughts and feelings that go into that real, breathing life...
First let me say that I and not at all surprised that Mr. Brooks' academic colleagues sometimes disparage journalism. I would also suspect that Mr. Brooks' fellow Beltway gatekeepers in whatever-the-hell-profession it is that Mr. Brooks practices also disparage journalism.
Because such is the fate of the journalism.
And second, there is a part of me that believes with a gravitational certainty beyond reason or faith that Mr. Brooks absolutely damn sure betcha deployed his naughtiest "infinite dignity of the individual" bedroom sweet talk and boldly disrobed his earnest desire to capture the "unique blend of thoughts and feelings that go into that real, breathing life" every single time he went about
humping the leg "conducting sensitive interviews" with the likes of Scooter Libby or John Thune or Lindsay Graham or John McCain or Holy Joe Lieberman or George Bush or Mitt Romney or some titan of the fracking industry or, seemingly, every single person who works at the American Enterprise Institute so that he might better reflect the light of Beltway Received Wisdom across the land and into the squalid huts of flyover denizens like me.
Most of the rest of the column is more David Brooks post-divorce musings which some enterprising intern has apparently fed through a Dan Hill Lyrics Generator:
Affection motivates you to want to see everything about another. Empathy opens you up to absorb the good and the bad. Love impels you not just to observe, but to seek union — to think as another thinks and feel as another feels.So we've got that going for us:
UPDATE: Citizen Yastreblyansky tries very hard to decrypt this latest dispatch from Mr. Brooks to his homeworld regarding the carbon-based, Applebee-dining apex predators of planet Earth .