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Survivors of any traumatic experience can reflect on their experiences in a wide variety of ways.

John Scalzi is not reflecting on his own experiences. He is just as privileged as you or I; he is merely claiming to be so much more aware of poverty that he has the authority to emotionally define it.

http://whatever.scalzi.com/about/a-brief-biography-of-john-s...




I believe that Scalzi grew up in a household which was "poor", at least for some years, and that he was simply hard-working and lucky enough to be able to get out of it. See his comment on the OP here: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/#comment-64...

Which is not to say that he isn't doing well for himself now, and it's hardly surprising that this wouldn't feature prominently in his "brief bio".

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I dunno. In that comment, he describes being the first in his family to graduate from high school or college, and his mom sending him away to live with an aunt so she could work.

In the original post, he described not being able to scrape together $300 for a test to go to college at all, and "not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids". Sounds like exaggeration to me.

I still don't think he's writing from experience. He went to a high school he liked, a nice out of state college, and got a nice job. Just like the rest of us. He hasn't had to "try to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box [of Raisin Bran] has to last." Maybe his parents or friends did. Or maybe it's exaggerated and mythologized.

Who knows?

I'd rather access the reality of poverty through reason than emotion. Practical compassion for the people I know personally (and he is not the only one with friends and family who are poor!); statistics for communities and definitions and trends.

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In the original post, he described not being able to scrape together $300 for a test to go to college at all, and "not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids". Sounds like exaggeration to me.

Minor correction: the $300 for college story is from a person called Soni in the comments, not in the original blog post. The bit about not taking a job, I can easily see being observation of his parents; that's how I interpreted a lot of the items in the list, as things he saw his family go through as he grew up. He himself has obviously done pretty good, but that's not to say he couldn't have shared at least parts of these experiences.

In general I agree with the superiority of reason over emotion; but there are a lot of people out there who can't be reached easily through reason, for whom statistics just sit there, meaningless. I think it's useful to have these emotional appeals out there, as it hits at a different level.

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  John Scalzi is not reflecting on his own experiences.
But the point is that you can't decide that from what he wrote. A work of fiction can contain extremely accurate descriptions of peoples' experiences, as judged by people that have experienced what is descrined, even though the author hasn't lived through those experiences himself. The ability to conceive such descriptions is one of the skills that can make someone a great writer. You're basically arguing against that and asserting that someone that hasn't experienced something cannot and should not write about it.

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