After studying Maxwell it is very apparent that interpretation of a problem in politics is something that cannot be done very loosely. Without closely following some of Maxwell's Problem Solving Rationality, political problems, along with problems that occur every day, can easily be escalated, disruptive and can take a very long time to be settled. People who report on political subjects also have to follow these rules when interpreting an incident in order to write a fair and just article for both arguments. To demonstrate this need the following incident was researched.
Recently, on May 17, 1995, a political conflict occurred when the NRA (National Rifleman's Association) released a fundraising statement which called many federal law enforcement agents "jackbooted government thugs,".(Detroit Free Press, Pg 1) An apology to all law enforcement agencies by the Vice President of the NRA quickly followed the statement's release. The media quickly picked up on the incident and reported to the public what happened. Using three different articles from three different authors and Maxwell's Problem Solving Rationality it was easy to see who was being a fair reporter and who was distorting the incident into something else.
The Detroit Free Press's Lori Montgomery reported on the incident. In the article Ms. Montgomery mainly mentions the NRA's problems which have occurred in the past. Her many quotes from NRA members who have gone pro-gun control and statements from some anti-gun control extremists make the NRA look like a bunch of gun crazy lunatics. Although this seems to be the article which uses the largest amount of data and facts most of these facts are those which, in the eyes of the NRA, heighten the bad and lessen the good of the incident. She did not show any particular problem to solve and even lead away from the problem at hand just to get her pro-gun control opinion and propaganda across to her readers.
A much more reasonable and fair description of events was given by USA Today's columnist Mimi Hall. In this article Ms. Hall centers around the problem of how the NRA is going to handle and react to the loss of one of it's most treasured members, President George Bush. She uses many quotes and interviews many well known gun control activists and anti-gun control lobbyists to help answer the questions readers may have. This article seems to be the most scientific of the three. Here Ms. Hall uses statistics to come up with and support a solution to the problem at hand. In this article Hall clearly demonstrates problem solving skills and dissociates the human and scientific questions and reports on them individually. For instance she states that although the NRA has lost some members from it's statement against law enforcement it has in fact increased because of the publicity. She also makes it clear that even through this event has been frowned upon by many, many others have rallied because of it. She clearly keeps her personal feelings out of these questions and only reports on what seems to be clear facts.
Another very fair and interesting article was published in Newsweek. This article was a very short piece that was practically a summary of Mimi Hall's article in USA Today. It dealt with the same main problem that the USA Today article found and it also quickly showed the NRA's loss and gains from taking such a harsh stand. It showed a respect for both gun control and anti-gun control views. Although this was a very short column it was quite complete in describing the incidents which happened.
Data and Facts can and does affect our understanding of science to an extreme. However, after reading the Detroit Free Press piece, in which Ms. Montgomery used great amounts of data and facts to make the NRA seem in more disarray than is true, it's clear that data can be used for or against our understanding. In order for this data to help the author must use problem solving skills and dissociate personal feelings from these facts. Not using these skills will make a problem harder to solve, understand, and could even escalate the problem into something larger.
"Mixed News", Newsweek, issued May 22, 1995, Page 4.
"NRA Defends Shift Toward Militancy", Detroit Free Press, Issued May 19, 1995, Page 1
"NRA Under Fire", USA Today, Issued May 18, 1995, Page 1
In order to be completely fair in the writing of this paper local law enforcement, gun control lobbyists and the NRA was contacted for information and opinions on this political event.