The New York Times Test is the name of a check that one can undergo to determine whether one should say or do a certain thing. It goes like this: “How would you feel if your actions were reported on the front page of The New York Times?”
|I do sometimes agonise about whether I should be bold and say certain things, seemingly related to both anxiety (yes, I have a diagnosis) and impostor syndrome, especially on my blog. I work in a field where people have to justify their actions frequently and we are always reminded of our responsibilities, often in a rather pessimistic and negative way. This adds to the nagging doubts, especially when others seem to be so much more confident and outspoken than I (and I’m not exactly quiet).
But the true test is of whether you would stand by your convictions. And sometimes it’s a good thing to have to stand up for what you say. Going unquestioned could lead to fixed patterns of thinking, and doesn’t allow for much introspection. When people challenge me, I do question my beliefs – it doesn’t mean I always change them – but by thinking critically, and having the courage to admit when I’m wrong. So I use the New York Times Test to think about what I want to say, and to consider whether my argument is a good one or not. Like, rather than how would I feel if my actions were reported on the front page of The New York Times; how would I defend my actions in such an instance?
The link in the first sentence of this post is an interesting one – it discusses The New York Times Test in the wider conext of defending the indefensible, and misapplication of the rule. I think that’s why it’s such a good rule, because you have to think very carefully before you apply it.