Fact posts

habryka (+25/-25)
Ruby (+1720)

This entry requires work.

A Fact post is a piece of writing that attempts to build an understanding of the world, starting bottom up with empirical facts rather than "opinions".  Under this tag, one can find posts that present lots of basic facts about topics.This entry requires work.

This entry requires work.

A Fact post is a piece of writing that attempts to build an understanding of the world, starting bottom up with empirical facts rather than "opinions".  Under this tag, one can find posts that present lots of basic facts about topics.

Fact posts were introduced in Fact Posts: How and Why by sarahconstantin:

The most useful thinking skill I've taught myself, which I think should be more widely practiced, is writing what I call "fact posts."  I write a bunch of these on my blog. (I write fact posts about pregnancy and childbirth here.)

To write a fact post, you start with an empirical question, or a general topic.  Something like "How common are hate crimes?" or "Are epidurals really dangerous?" or "What causes manufacturing job loss?"  

It's okay if this is a topic you know very little about. This is an exercise in original seeing and showing your reasoning, not finding the official last word on a topic or doing the best analysis in the world.

Then you open up a Google doc and start taking notes.

You look for quantitative data from conventionally reliable sources.  CDC data for incidences of diseases and other health risks in the US; WHO data for global health issues; Bureau of Labor Statistics data for US employment; and so on. Published scientific journal articles, especially from reputable journals and large randomized studies.

You explicitly do not look for opinion, even expert opinion. You avoid news, and you're wary of think-tank white papers. You're looking for raw information. You are taking a sola scriptura approach, for better and for worse.

And then you start letting the data show you things. 

You see things that are surprising or odd, and you note that. [continues]