Fisking

From Academic Kids

Fisking, or to Fisk, refers to the act of critiquing, often in minute detail, an article, essay, argument, etc. with the intent of challenging its conclusion or theses by highlighting logical fallacies and incorrect facts. The practice was named after British journalist Robert Fisk after he issued a dispatch from Pakistan describing his savage beating at the hands of Afghan refugees.

In the article, Fisk claimed that he was rescued from the mob by a courageous Muslim man and then protected by two other compassionate Muslim medics. In spite of this example of bravery and humanity, Fisk concluded that he would have acted in the manner of the savage, bloodthirsty mob who beat him. Fisk stated that "If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find."

Blogger Andrew Sullivan considered Fisk's story to be suspect and wrote a detailed analysis and critique (http://andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2001_12_09_dish_archive.html#7786744). The term "fisking" first appeared on either Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan's weblog.

While the term seems to imply that Fisk is a habitually bad reporter, Fisk has received several journalism awards, including the British International Journalist of the Year award seven times although, as famously demonstrated by Walter Duranty and a long list of others, journalism awards are not always proof of ethical standards or truth in reporting.

Fisking can be compared to the Usenet style of responding to an argument line by line by replying to a message while quoting the original message with >s in the left column. The difference is that with a Usenet line-by-line discussion, often a large number of unrelated arguments can develop while the main point of the original article and original response gets lost.

Fisking is different from flaming, with which it is sometimes confused. Though a fisking may contain a substantial amount of derision or scorn or even profanity, it is never solely a stream of mere verbal abuse.


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