People extrapolate

Now that my opinions on things are publicly available, I get to see how people outside my usual circle of friends, family, and colleagues respond to them. It’s fascinating.

The most significant thing I’ve noticed is that people extrapolate, a lot. For example, if I write, “Egg yolks are too slimy,” many people seem to think that means, “I hate eggs. You should too.” I get egg industry advocates sending me e-mail. I see snarky posts citing me on pro-egg blogs. You get the idea. (Par for the course, I know.)

I try (I really, really try) to be precise with my words. I can think of only one or two cases in which I later felt I mischaracterized my own views on something. And those are borderline cases. I also distinguish such cases from the evolution of my views. I learn stuff and the world changes. What I believe today about X is not necessarily what I believed about X in 2009. If I’m not learning something new I wouldn’t blog. That’s why I blog, to learn and to practice articulating what I’ve learned.

Being careful in my writing means that I say what I mean and only what I mean. So, if I write, “Egg yolks are too slimy,” that’s exactly the full extent of my opinion on eggs that you can accurately infer. If I wanted to convey that I hate eggs I’d write, “I hate eggs.” It’s really that simple.

Given that, what can you tell about my full views on private plan participation in Medicare from recent posts? Wouldn’t it be easy to infer I detest them and think they should be abolished? Or that I think they are wonderful and work well in all respects? Both would be inaccurate extrapolations. I’ve said no such thing!

I know this is tricky and nuanced, but so is the world, so is research, so is life, and so is this blog. I don’t expect everyone to get it. It’s enough that most regular readers do, or at least those who regularly comment and correspond. For you, I am grateful. It’s nice to have you along for the ride.

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