“…In terms of fictional writing I think it doesn’t really matter who the author is or what they believe in as it wouldn’t affect my view of their work in either a negative or positive way. I would happily read, for example, something by L. Ron Hubbard without caring for or knowing anything about scientology – knowing his beliefs make no difference to me as a reader. But what about non fiction? What about authors of propaganda presented as fact? Or even research papers paid for by specific interest groups (oil companies, religious groups etc.) – if you knew that the authors of a book about evolution were evangelical Christians (for example) would it make you question their research?”
In response to my post “Drawing a Line in the Sand.”
Hooo boy… yeah non-fiction is a whole other boat. Even there, I would argue that the writer should not be obligated to make their political leanings known. There are a couple of reasons for this…
- The author’s political biases are probably already known. Take the movie The Reagans for example. President Reagan himself was played by the husband of known left-wing activist, Barbara Streisand… so it really should be looked at with some skepticism.
- Sources. Non-fiction writers are supposed to cite sources and make a reference page at the end of the book, this is for all to see.
So let’s say that someone didn’t cite sources… then likely their book would be looked at as a work of fiction.
Now, let’s go off on the odd chance that someone wrote a propaganda piece and passed it off as fact in a non-fiction work and they have no political history or other works… then honestly, it’s the responsibility of the reader to know the difference.
The first thing I would do is check the source material. Check to see if the cited sources are scholarly works, text books, and so on… or are they blogs, editorial pieces, pieces from media news, or the rantings of some random idiot…
Sigh… yeah… Needless to say, there is a huge difference there.
If a reader catches one of these people in the act, I’d say it’s not only their right, it is there responsibility to call that person out on it. This is why I take virtually nothing that people like Anita Sarkeesian say seriously. Be wary of them when they close down comment sections on YouTube or block twitter followers who dare to challenge them. That’s usually a tell-tale sign that what they’re pushing as literal fact is in fact bogus.
Most of the mainstream media is guilty of this, which is why their mediums are dying quickly. With the exception mostly of CSPAN, every single news outlet out there puts a spin on almost everything they report.These days, almost 100% of the news we watch are editorials, not fact and unfortunately, these editorials are pushed as actual literal fact, at which point intentionally or otherwise they become LIES. This is important, because when people are printing opinion as fact, that becomes a very serious ethical problem.
The important thing is to know the difference between editorial and fact:
Editorial: a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue.
Fact: A thing that is indisputably the case.
There’s the difference and this is why I say it is the READERS responsibility to know the difference. Unscrupulous propaganda machines rarely admit they’re wrong unless significantly called out on it.
This is why I would never EVER write a non-fiction piece. Unlike the mainstream media, I have a moral and ethical compass. I’ve been a political activist in one way or another for many years up until recently. I know that there is no way that I could ever write something without putting my own bias and personal feelings into it. So I don’t try to. Any time I write about events that actually happen, I openly admit that it’s my own take on them and actually encourage people to come forward and point out where they think I’m wrong so that I can correct it. Don’t take what I say as fact. Use it and other opinions to help you form your own. I never write anything with the intention of misleading anyone. I just want to get my own thoughts out.
So to answer your question, if someone doesn’t want their political leanings known, fiction or non-fiction, they’re under no obligation to. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. However if you catch someone printing lies, call them out on it. Make it known that what they’re doing is wrong. I honestly believe that its not only your right, it’s your responsability. Just as it is everyone elses.
I sincerely hope this helps clear that up!
However, I will open this up to the comments section as well. What do you think, people? Should those writing fact have to devulge their political leanings? Should the readers be responsible for fact-finding when it comes to editorial writing, or descerning the difference? Let me know!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!
Good answer. I’m afraid I don’t have enough faith in people in general to attempt to place the burden of intellectual honesty on the writer. Readers must be engaged in critical thought when approaching nonfiction and I personally think that fiction is one of the best mediums for encouraging critical thought, and at its best, I don’t think knowing the author’s opinion adds to the experience.
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