From the Editor
Devils and Data: A Reckoning

“If you’re one of those people who do still believe in mystery, you can apparently go fuck yourself straight to Hell. And when you get there, tell the Devil Science sent you,” said Robert Brockway of
Science has arrogantly proclaimed its dominance over folklore, faith, fuzzy logic, and in the best of cases, fallacy. Challenging subjectivity, science has been crowned King in a court of measurable facts. But a Queen remains. What of those aspects of the human experience that are beyond numbers, beyond calculation?
Journalism finds itself in the role of jester, desperately trying to appease both sides of the court. We adhere to the quantitative, basing our reporting on facts, while attending to the experience and perception of these truths, sometimes through a sleight of hand. Because sometimes we have to report on what cannot be measured, like an ideal, and sometimes the call to act comes long before the call to calculate.
In this issue we are juggling science and subjectivity. My feature on magic mushrooms brings a mysterious personal experience out of the realm of fantasy and into the lab, a necessary step for its acceptance. Alamir Novin writes on his own experiences as a ninja stalking elusive hummingbirds, an experience that results in a strong empathy, which changes his outlook on the hard science of climate change. We also have a sequence of pieces on Caster Semenya that display a delicate balance between narrow biological facts and the perceptual debate surrounding their acceptance. Finally, Jenny Vienneau writes about a former Cap student’s impassioned bike ride across Canada for charity, while Krissi Bucholtz reflects on her time spent in Sierra Leone, describing some recent problems with international adoption laws and calling for exceptions to be made for compassionate cases.
While many philosophers and scientists may argue the black and whites of reason versus perception, the writer must navigate both, overthrowing an “either-or” for a “both-and”. After all, if a writer chooses only a scientific approximation of truth, then they ignore the living, breathing experience of human impulse and instincts. If a journalist seeks to mirror humanity, they must reflect both images on their page. Because journalism also finds itself in the business of truth, just as much as those Kings of the Petri dish and Queens of the fortune cookie. And because, in the words of Milan Kundera, “Any schoolboy can do experiments in the physics laboratory to test various scientific hypotheses. But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion (compassion) or not.”

Kevin Murray

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