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In Defense of Pundits

Updated on May 20, 2013

Pundits and periodontists

A periodontist is a physician who practices periodontics. Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that treats periodontitis. Periodontitis is a disease of the gums.

A pundit is a person who offers expert opinion on a variety of matters, usually social and political. Punditry is the a branch of public communication which treats pundititus. Pundititus is a disease of the human psyche which inhibits thoughtful exploration. The illness shows up in two contradictory forms. In the first, the patient shuns all punditry believing his own opinion is second to none. It's opposite is the patient who collects pundits and believes their every word. A good pundit can heal both forms with just a few well chosen comments.

Other than that both start with a "p", what do these two enterprises have in common? Gums. The first heals them; the second flaps them. And, yes, I made up some of my own words there. Webster will soon catch up with me. :-)

We need pundits

Much of the abuse pundits get comes from people who deny their pundititus. They claim to have better information than the pundit and blow him/her off as a biased talking head. Or they slovenly hang on every pundit word expecting instant enlightenment.

Modern society has gotten so complex and inscrutable that few of us have sufficient data to make a truly informed decision. Further whatever data we have, will be irrelevant tomorrow. And yet we opine.

A more humble approach might be to accept gratefully the work that pundits do. If my car breaks down I don't try to figure out the problem and fix it. No, I call my friend Randy at Sixty Service who arranges to have it towed to where expert mechanics fix my car. I trust them. We trust experts in every walk of life. Why not do so when processing information about societal and political trends.

The dirty little secret is that we all lean on someone else for our opinions. Unless you have gained access to the corridors of power and spent huge chunks of time, energy and money to acquire original source material, your current opinions are being shaped by the people you listen to, your personal pundits.

Pundits aren't objective

And you are? Objectivity is a myth claimed as a truism by the arrogant. The myth asserts that you can't know truth unless it's source is objective. If that be the case, truth is unknowable.

The Bible which I accept as God's Word, truthful and reliable in all that it affirms, doesn't claim objectivity. The Apostle John wrote near the end of his gospel, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30,31) Was John objective? No, he freely cops to an agenda. But he is truthful.

Ted Koppel, the only pundit I could pick up at Wikimedia.
Ted Koppel, the only pundit I could pick up at Wikimedia. | Source

It's not objectivity, but who you trust

Once you jettison the objectivity myth, you're able to gain a lot of useful information by deciding whom to trust. That's a personal decision you'll make based on all sorts of issues. The important thing is to recognize freely what's happening. I have a Christian world and life view, so I decide whom to believe based on who reflects that position most accurately. That person may not be a Christian but his life and views may line up with Christian values. Yes, God can make that happen. It's called common grace.

Here are the pundits I trust: Charles Krauthammer, Ted Koppel, Dana Perino, Brit Hume. Bill O'Rielly can be abrasive but usually he's right on. He can be as tough on a Republican as on a Democrat. Bret Baier? What's not to like about him. Megyn Kelly is quick witted and smart. Both Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly are more on the straight news side, but even when they stray into punditry they go in the right direction.

Who are your favorite pundits? Why?

Comments - I'm listening

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    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thank you, lambservant, really appreciate your stopping by and also your answer to the question I posed. It may be the beginning of hub. We'll see.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Funny how everyone chose Christian preachers of sorts. I will say I loved Colson. James Dobson is another. But as far as non-preacher, ministry types I don't listen to too many. I think Rush makes a lot of sense, but he is so arrogant and abrasive I can't listen to him for too long. A funny story about Rush. In the 90's for a brief time he was on TV. My then husband had to watch it every time it was on. One day I walked into the living room and my 4 year old was standing on a stool and said "Ladies and gentlemen, Rush Limbaugh, on loan from God." I was horrified and incredibly amused all at one. His dad bought him one of his books (he's clueless).

      O'Reilley is good too, but as you say he can be abrasive too. I did not know Koppel was still around.

      I like what you said about objectivity. It just made sense. I think there are times when objectivity (as not showing bias) is appropriate though. This was a great hub.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 5 years ago

      Good morning liftandsoar.

      My favourite pundit is Chuck Swindall and used to be Chuck Colsen until he died.

      God bless you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Aren't we critical? These guys who are charismatic are way cool. I wish I could light up a thousand souls. Joel is peace bound and Love centric. Please let him be who he is.

      99% are made to follow. Let us go easy on those we do.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Yes, Michele, preachers can veer off their calling. He's one of them. Preachers should stay focussed on God's Word and the gospel. Leave the social and political punditry to others. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I do agree with Jackie on Hal Lindsey, but there are Preachers on TV that bother me a lot. It seems to me, that many of them are starting to preech about money. That is strange. The one I am writing about is Joel Osteen. I have seen him on TV, and even attended his serves's. He always tell us that being rich is a very good thing. But, Jesus told us something else about being rich. Anyway, thank you for this message, it is a very good one.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Good to hear from you Eric. Provocative is good...I think.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      excellent though provocation

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Good to hear from you, Jackie. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great write and being Christian too mine would be Jack Van Impe and Hal Lindsey at the top, not that I think either are perfect and I may laugh at one or the other from time to time but I trust them and I think they only have mankind's interest at heart. I really loved Zola Levitt when he was alive, too. A Christian Jew, so much knowledge.