The concept of confirmation bias is real, and it’s something I encounter all the time in my work. It means that we all tend to see information through the prism of what we already believe.
An example: If you think air travel is inherently dangerous, every story about a plane wreck is further “evidence” that flying is an unreasonable risk. But in reality, we’re all much more likely to be injured in a car than in a plane.
This is something I see frequently with people who spend a lot of time using the Internet. When you get all your info online, it’s easy to think everyone else does the same. But that’s just not true. People use their email accounts, smartphones and tablets in millions of different ways, and some gravitate toward the printed page, TV or radio even with other options.
The same goes with cursing. Those who aren’t averse to cursing can sometimes not even notice it when they hear it. But there are many people who try very hard not to utter, hear or even see those words.
So I think it’s understandable that an emailer today brought to my attention how unnecessary he finds it when The Star incorporates cursing into its content, especially in headlines. Though I heard lots and lots of praise for the headline “Horse(bleep)” on the cover of Sports Daily Jan. 5 after the Colts knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs, several readers told me they thought the wordplay on a common vulgar term was inappropriate.
Another example: Today’s Preview section cover uses a series of typographical symbols to stand in for cursing, in reference to someone who just realized Valentine’s Day is only a day away.
Calling it “cussing implied,” he suggested that editors should find different ways to express themselves.