Sherwin Arnott

By day, Sherwin works with companies and organizations helping them manage their brands, and improve their reach and impact. He works as an editor, graphic designer, illustrator and researcher.

His academic training is in analytic philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of science and language, and ethics. And his interest in design and communications is rooted in these domains. Sherwin completed an MA in Philosophy, and wrote a thesis on mental models bridging realist and anti-realist theories of truth.

Sherwin has worked as a fundraiser for a number of non-profits. He continues to be interested in the relationship between culture and environment. He is currently fascinated by the intersection of journalism, marketing, public relations and politics.

Twitter: @sherwinarnott
Instagram: @sherwinarnott.
Mastadon(.social): @sherwin
Bluesky: @sherwinarnott.bsky.social

Sherwin writes at his desk

Fresh approaches to skepticism

The skeptic social movement has been a big part of my social and intellectual world. In a world full of bullshit and liars I appreciate the posture of “show me the evidence.” But sometimes skepticism…

Journalism is a variety of public relations

Journalists complain about the rise and impact of public relations. It’s the “dark side”. Public relations (PR) “exerts a pressure” on journalism. It has a “distorting influence”. Journalists find themselves “at odds” with PR pros…

Masturbation: A Short History of a Great Taboo

This film by Lori Malépart-Traversy is a fascinating peak into the legacy of the Graham Cracker guy, Sylvester Graham, And the Kellogg’s guy, John Harvey Kellog, and other Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventists.1 Magical Caresses…

Reality testing: measuring the long term impact of journalism

When Margaret Wente was getting busted repeatedly for plagiarizing, her publisher, The Globe and Mail, more or less defended her. Critical commentators’ noted that no one spins harder or better than a newspaper team defending…

Some notes on microblogging

This week Twitter continues to burn money by rebranding to X. I’m still at Twitter at @sherwinarnott. But I don’t know for how long. Twitter remains more or less functional, but the right wing bias,…

Cognition trick: the Google Effect

The Google effect is a kind of digital amnesia that permeates this internet age. Explored by Sparrow, Liu, and Wegner, this variety of cognitive bias reveals the fascinating relationship between memory and reliance on online…

Five kinds of compassion, according to Gabor Maté

I’ve been reading (listening to) The Myth of Normal, by Gabor Maté. It’s a fascinating look at the role of trauma in our selves, but also in our collective selves. Our culture, according to Maté,…

The stickiness of so-called “reverse racism”

“Reverse racism” has been debunked many times. It’s a bogus idea.1See, for example Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos’s explainer, “No Such Thing as ‘Reverse Racism’. When the scientific community announced after the Second World War that there…

Research notes on defunding the police, from Halifax

The hard work of an important committee in Halifax has recently come to fruition. The Subcommittee to Define Defunding the Police have finished their research, their surveys, and their deliberations and they’ve published their report….

Headlines, cognitive processing, and problematic information

Headlines matter. Publishers know it. Good headlines help with the understanding, reach, and impact of a story. Headlines frame articles, shaping the information in the article that follows, and alter reader comprehension.

Three unforgettable moments in [my] hockey history

Where I grew up in Northern Alberta, hockey was a big deal. My big brother played hockey. And my dad, who was not a great skater, played hockey in a community league. Everyone had a…

I seen it

She was kind. But she was also ruthlessly attentive to my Northern Alberta dialect. Sometimes she would simply say it back to me. I seen.

Journalism is the business of influence

Good journalists do what they do because they care. They have interests. The organizations that employ journalists also are guided by interests. They have purpose. The Washington Post wears their mission on their sleeve. Their…

Journalism’s allergy to substantive regulation

Misinformation is a big deal. Hate online is a big deal. And as the public catches up to their reach and impact, we’ll see more and more talk about regulation of media. Interestingly, news organizations…

Paul Wells, conservatism, satire, and Maclean’s footprint

I like Maclean’s about as much as I like the National Post. They’re rightwing, partisan, and legacy. On my view they have courted hate and burned trust, undermining journalism along several dimensions.[1. Recurring caveat: they…

My cell phone carrier has stopped spamming me

My local gym and community centre is awesome. It’s a little less than three kilometres from my home. The pool is great. The gym is nice. It’s got a kind of weird gate system that…

The dominant press is a giant inertia machine

But here’s an old idea: what if dominant journalism, by and large and in the long run, is actually a drag on progress? What if dominant journalism, and by that I mean the mainstream press,…

Map of earthquake liquefaction risks around Victoria

My father recently sent me these amazing resources about various risks due to earthquake around Victoria. I immediately had to look at one, because the thought of the ground turning to liquid is terrifying to…

Martin Speckter, type design, and the interrobang

99% Invisible did an episode on the interrobang recently. I was interested to learn that early Greek and Roman writing didn’t have spaces! Rack that up to stuff I took for granted. Apparently an ad…

Some notes on why jihad is good

If you read Canadian journalists on the topic, you might not understand that jihad has some very nice meanings. Most Canadian journalists seem to commonly misrepresent the concept. It’s not just them, mind you. There’s…

More nuanced theories of journalism needed

A good theory of journalism helps us understand what media are not journalistic. And, equally important, a theory helps us understand what unconventional kinds of media are journalistic…

UBCIC Rejects Canada 150 Celebrations

Republished with permission: “Canada150” is not representative of the history of our lands and territories, or of our present realities as Indigenous Peoples. We, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), cannot, in all good…

Meghan Jezewski: Hitchhikings

In which Meghan and Sherwin reflect on the old days, hitchhiking, and being young and lucky (and privileged) …

A newspaper is an index

What does an Auto Trader, a phone book, a card catalog, a post office, a mall map, Google and a newspaper all have in common…

#PantSuitNation is making me cry

There is much about this election that has provoked a roller coaster of emotions. I’m excited to see that some women have chosen to dress up in their pantsuits to vote.

Media should always link to press releases

Canadian journalists and other forms of media types rely on press releases written by public relations pros and the problem can be easily fixed by…

The Evil Woman trope

In which the Evil Women trope is discussed. Women are over-represented as evil villains, murderers and criminal masterminds …

Reframe: nobody has a right to be served by journalism

When critically considering a given piece of journalism, we might ask ourselves, was it informative? was it engaging? was it helpful? So it’s rather sad that others, when faced with criticism, are inclined to ask…

Yes, journalists are* responsible for their headlines

Unfortunately, headlines are, often enough, hyperbolic, clickbaity, misleading, having secondary content, racist, priming, inappropriate or ill-judged. Engaged readers will complain to the author. The author, enraged with righteous indignation, will bark, “I didn’t write the…

What are your priors?

Maybe Bayes theorem can help right wing commentators better understand, and respect, the language of privilege …

Cop show Blue Bloods makes me cringe

Blue Bloods is a story of a cop family, the Reagans, in New York. And it’s a reasonably well written family drama that suffers from deeply racist, and sexist, narratives…

Holy hell, Batman; I’ve been wrong

There are known-knowns. And then there’s all the fucked up arbitrary shit we believe, and impose on others, for no really good reason, like for example the use of quotation marks …

Underpants are political

People underestimate the importance, politically, of underpants. Here I explain why this can be said of, well, anything you want …

Notes