Monday, July 20, 2015

You Can't Spell "Analysis" Without "Anal"

The traditional etymology of the word "analysis" is from the Greek analusis, meaning "a breaking up," where ana means "up, throughout" and lysis means "a loosening."

I prefer a construction in which "analysis" comes from anal (of the ass) and the ysis part correlates to kidney dialysis, in which bad stuff is removed from the body. So "analysis" would pretty much mean "talking out of one's ass."

This might seem surprising from someone whose working title at his last two institutions has been "senior news analyst," but it's really a load I've been wanting to ... er, get off my mind.

Over the years it's become trendy for newspapers and other magazines to differentiate between "opinion" and "analysis."

"Opinion" is someone saying what he thinks about Issue X.

"Analysis" is an "expert" or "authority" on Issue X, giving you the real scoop.

But most "analysts," myself included, are just opinionating like anyone else. We're not scientists in lab coats, pouring Issue X in and out of test tubes and faithfully recording outcomes. We're people telling you what we think and putting a rhetorical lab coat on our opinions to make them seem more authoritative.

That's not to say that one opinion is just as good as another, or that any given "analyst" is no better informed on Issue X than his or her audience.

When I write political op-eds for a general audience, I don't think I'm being haughty in assuming that I pay more attention to politics, and have done so for far longer, than the average newspaper reader, and that therefore my opinion is likely more informed and therefore of value to that reader.

But here at KN@PPSTER, I suspect it would be haughty to assume that I pay more attention to politics, and have done so for far longer, and therefore have a more informed opinion than you. If you're so absorbed in politics that you follow this blog, you're probably at least as qualified to act as an "analyst" as I am.

Just sayin' ...

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