The Question of Cherry Picking from Resources

“You can’t use that source! The author is wrong on something else!”

I’d be set for a few lifetimes if I received just a penny each time I was told or overheard someone saying something to that effect, and I suspect most writers would be in similar financial condition. What bothers me is how many times people buy that reasoning, and set aside good source material simply because there is something else that is flawed within it. Most of the books I have read or referenced contain at least a little information that I disagree with, and would never quote – ever.

When it comes to resources on sexuality, this is more true than in most other subject areas. The problem is that most academic work on human sexuality is incomplete, or obviously tainted. This is especially true of work involving anything outside the mainstream, because kinky people just don’t entirely trust the academy yet (if they ever will.) On the opposite side, the self-appointed experts (even if they try to say that they really aren’t) offer information that is necessarily limited by their own experiences and observations. Also, their work tends to be highly subjective (including mine.)

This wouldn’t be a huge issue if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re dealing with untamed territory, where even the residents can’t agree on even a basic set of rules. Yes, there is talk about being safe, sane and consensual, or any of the other anagrams used to describe the very basic rules of the road. But, that is subjective, even when talking about consent. There is no agreement across the spectrum on what any of this looks like.

Of course, that leads to a great deal of confusion, and it also leads to a lot of material that has bits and pieces that are useful, while the rest needs to be set aside as either too edgy, or misleading, or downright irresponsible. So, what does one do with the tiny bits that are wonderful? Is it possible to cherry pick good ideas from sources that are largely unacceptable for whatever reason?

For now, I’m leaving that question unanswered. Perhaps some other writers will offer their thoughts in comments.

Image By Alex E. Proimoshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4199675334/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22535544

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