Yesterday, I published an article from the Daily Telegraph by journalist Judith Woods. Woods wrote wonderfully about her encounter with Richard Dawkins at his home. One can like or dislike Dawkins, but Dawkins states an essential point about scientific research. He told the journalist, and I quote:
“I think children should be taught critical thinking from an early age: how to discuss and how to argue based on evidence, rather than everybody citing their own ‘lived experience’, which is of no relevance to the rest of the planet. Young people are inevitably swayed and carried along by ideology and I do have some sympathy for them, so let’s give them the tools to think for themselves.”
I find this quote from Dawkins extremely important. Dawkins admits that by their biological and psychological nature, children are swayed and carried away by ideologies. Then, he added another important reflection. The “lived experience’ of individuals is not interesting to the planet.
TVM interviewed Silvan Agius about his childhood and school experiences. Agius told TVM that, when he was at school, he was bullied because of his sexual orientation. Agius insisted that from childhood, he felt that he was gay. TVM presented these statements by Agius as the most important discovery to planet Earth.
These statements were countered by other statements from Silvan Agius’s mates at school. One writes under his name. The other wrote in anonymity. They contradicted Agius’ statement and insisted he was not bullied at school. In their opinion, if there were bullies in class, he was one.
The first comment was as follows:
“Silvan Agius is a liar. On the contrary, he was the bully. This is what I have to say. At Saint Agatha’s school, he was a cocky. Therefore, he should not come here lying.”
The second comment was by an anonymous person who signed as Tony.
The last comment is so true. Silvan Agius used the services of the Nationalist activist and lawyer Cedric Mifsud to try to silence and stop me from continuing writing about him because he felt threatened by my blogs. His lawyer was recently elected on the board of the local advocates union known as Il-Kamra tal-Avukati.
I will not delve into who is saying the truth or not. But this story confirms that Dawkins is right. Lived experiences are not scientific proofs. If one recounts his experiences, it does not mean that what one says is the truth. Truth needs to be verified, and lived experiences need to be checked. Otherwise, it would be all propaganda.
Unfortunately, as Dawkins states, propaganda can harm children and young adults. They are the most vulnerable to being swayed and carried away. TVM must ensure how to air specific stories because they can send the wrong messages. In the process, educational institutions that are named in these lived experiences will be harmed as they are being accused with past wrongdoings when this is not the case.