Criticism

Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.

Julio Ruelas - Criticism - Google Art Project
Crítica, engraving by Julio Ruelas, ca. 1907

Criticism is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many different forms (see below). How people go about criticizing, can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavour, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to appreciate the criticism. For subject-specific information, see the Varieties of criticism page.

To criticize does not necessarily imply "to find fault", but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an object against prejudice, no matter positive or negative. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean "taking sides". Constructive criticism will often involve an exploration of the different sides of an issue.

Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but there are friendly criticisms, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism ("keeping people sharp", "providing the critical edge"). The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism'.

When criticism involves a dialogue of some kind, direct or indirect, it is an intrinsically social activity.

Criticism is also the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends (see the article links below). The goal is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, it is often evaluated how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.

Etymology

This section is about the origin and evolution of the meanings of the expression "criticism".

Early English meaning

  • The English word criticism is derived from the French critique, which dates back to at least the 14th century.
  • The words "critic" and "critical" existed in the English language from the mid-16th century, and the word "criticism" first made its appearance in English in the early 17th century.[1]
  • In turn, the French expression critique has roots in Latin ("criticus" – a judger, decider, or critic), and, even earlier, classical Greek language ("krites" means judge, and "kritikos" means able to make judgements, or the critic). Related Greek terms are krinein (separating out, deciding), krei- (to sieve, discriminate, or distinguish) and krisis (literally, the judgement, the result of a trial, or a selection resulting from a choice or decision). Crito is also the name of a pupil and friend of the Greek philosopher Socrates, as well as the name of an imaginary dialogue about justice written by the philosopher Plato in the context of the execution of Socrates.

The early English meaning of criticism was primarily literary criticism, that of judging and interpreting literature. Samuel Johnson is often held as the prime example of criticism in the English language, and his contemporary Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism is a significant landmark. In the course of the 17th century, it acquired the more general sense of censure, as well as the more specialized meaning of the "discernment of taste", i.e. the art of estimating the qualities and character of literary or artistic works, implicitly from the point of view of a consumer.

To be critical meant, positively, to have good, informed judgement about matters of culture (to be cultivated, to be a man or woman of distinction), but negatively it could also refer to the (unreasonable) rejection or (unfair) treatment of some outside group ("to be critical of them"). Derivatively, "a criticism" also referred to a nice point or a distinction, a tiny detail, a pedantic nicety, a subtlety, or a quibble (the sense of what today is called a "minor criticism"). Often criticism was governed by very strict cultural rules of politeness, propriety and decency, and there could be immediate penalties if the wrong words were said or written down (in 17th century England, more than half of men and about three-quarters of women could not read or write).

In the 19th century, criticism also gained the philosophical meaning of "a critical examination of the faculty of knowledge", particularly in the sense used by Immanuel Kant. (See Oxford English Dictionary). Such criticism was carried out mainly by academic authorities, businessmen and men of property with the leisure to devote themselves to the pursuit of knowledge.

20th century

In the 20th century, all these meanings continued, but criticism acquired the more general connotation of voicing an objection, or of appraising the pros and cons of something.

  • The shape and meanings of criticism were influenced considerably by wars (including two world wars) occurring almost continuously somewhere in the world.
  • With the growth of specializations in the division of labour, and the growth of tertiary education, innumerable different branches of criticism emerged with their own rules and specialized technical meanings.
  • Philosophers such as Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos have popularized the idea that criticism is a normal part of scientific activity. Relatedly, "scientific criticism" has become a standard expression, just as much as "literary criticism".
  • Gradually it was accepted that criticism is a normal process in a democratic society, rather than a sign of inadequacy, or something that should be strictly controlled or repressed.

From the 1970s onward, under the influence of neo-Marxism, critical theory and Michel Foucault, it became fashionable in the English-speaking academic social sciences and humanities to use the French word "critique", instead of the ordinary "criticism". The suggestion is that there is a difference between the two terms, but what exactly it is, is often not altogether clear. Often the connotation is that if a deliberation is a "critique" and not just a "criticism", then there is "a lot of extra thought and profound meaning" behind what is being said. A "critique" in the modern sense is normally understood as a systematic criticism, a critical essay, or the critical appraisal of a discourse (or parts of a discourse). Thus, many academic papers came to be titled or subtitled "a critique". From the 1970s, English-speaking academics and journalists also began to use the word "critique" not only as a noun, but as a verb (e.g. "I have critiqued the idea", instead of "I have criticized the idea"). What is often implied is, that "critiqueing" goes deeper into the issue, or is more complete, than "criticizing", possibly because the specialist criteria of a particular discipline are being applied.

21st century

  • From the 1990s, the popular meanings of the word criticism have started to evolve more strongly toward "having an objection", "expressing dissent", "stating a dislike", "wanting to dissociate from something", or "rejecting something" ("If you liked it, you would not be criticizing it"). In the contemporary sense, criticism is often more the expression of an attitude, where the object of criticism may only be vaguely defined. For example, somebody "unlikes" something on Facebook or "unfriends" somebody.
  • In general, there is less money in literary criticism, while it has become easier for anyone to publish anything at a very low cost on the Internet – without necessarily being vetted through critically by others.
  • Professionally, "what it means to criticize" has become a much more specialized and technical matter, where "inside knowledge" is required to understand the criticism truly; this development is linked to the circumstance, that the right to criticize, or the propriety (appropriate use) of criticism, is regarded nowadays much more as depending on one's position, or on the context of the situation ("I would like to say something, but I am not in a position to criticize").
  • Because many more people are able to travel to, or have contact with, worlds completely different from their own, new problems are created of how to relativize criticisms and their limitations, how to put everything into meaningful proportion. This affects what a criticism is understood to be, or to mean, and what its overall significance is thought to be.
  • Digital information technology and telecommunications have begun to change drastically the ways people have for getting attention, or for being taken seriously. In turn, this has begun to change the ways people have for going about criticizing, and what criticism means for people.
  • With more possibilities for sophisticated expression, criticism has tended to become more "layered". Beneath the observable surface presentation of criticism, which is freely advertised, there are often additional layers of deeper criticism. These are not directly accessible, because they require additional information, or insight into additional meanings. To gain access to the "whole story" about a criticism, and not just "part of the story", may be conditional on fulfilling certain entry requirements ("if you don't have the ticket, you don't get the knowledge").
  • Together with the ability to make finer distinctions of meaning with the aid of digital equipment, the possibilities for ambiguity in criticism have increased: is a criticism being implied, or is it not, and if so, what exactly is the criticism? It can take more effort to unravel the full story.

Classifications

Criticism can be:

  • directed toward a person or an animal; at a group, authority or organization; at a specific behaviour; or at an object of some kind (an idea, a relationship, a condition, a process, or a thing).
  • personal (delivered directly from one person to another, in a personal capacity), or impersonal (expressing the view of an organization, and not aimed at anyone personally).
  • highly specific and detailed, or very abstract and general.
  • verbal (expressed in language) or non-verbal (expressed symbolically, or expressed through an action or a way of behaving).
  • explicit (the criticism is clearly stated) or implicit (a criticism is implied by what is being said, but it is not stated openly).
  • the result of critical thinking[2] or spontaneous impulse.

Different kinds of criticisms can be distinguished as types using the following criteria:

  • Point of view from which the criticism is made ("in what framework", "from what angle or perspective" is the criticism made).
  • Content of criticism, what it consists of ("what" is the criticism).
  • Purpose, motive, use or function of criticism ("why" is the criticism being raised, what is its aim).
  • Form of criticism, language used or medium of expression (in what "style" or format is the criticism presented).
  • Method of delivery, transmission or communication for the criticism ("how", or by what means, is the criticism conveyed).
  • Type of critic or the source making the criticism ("from whom" criticism originates).
  • Target or object of the criticism (criticism "of whom" or criticism "of what").
  • Context, place, setting or situation for the criticism ("where" is the criticism being made).
  • Recipients or audience of the criticism, intended or unintended (criticism directed or addressed "to where" or "to whom").

In dealing with criticisms, usually the most important aspects are who makes the criticism, what the criticism is about, and what or whom it is aimed at. It can also make a big difference though whether a criticism is e.g. communicated in person, or whether it is communicated with a letter or telephone message.

For an overview of criticisms from particular political or philosophical perspectives, see Varieties of criticism. For subject-specific information, see the critical pages on art, film, literature, theatre, or architecture.

Psychology

In general, the psychology of criticism studies the cognitive and emotional effects of criticism, the behavioral characteristics of criticism, and its influence on how people are reacting.

Area of study

The psychology of criticism is primarily concerned with:

  • the motivation, purpose or intent which people have for making criticisms – healthy or unhealthy.
  • the meaning of criticism for the self, and for others – positive or negative.
  • the effect which criticism has on other people – good or bad.
  • how people respond to criticisms, or cope with them – negatively or positively.
  • the quantity and quality of criticism required to achieve the desired effect or outcome.
  • the form in which criticisms are delivered – effective or ineffective.
  • how people learn to give and receive criticism successfully.
  • the sublimation, repression or denial of criticism.

Parents, teachers, lawyers, managers and politicians are often concerned with these issues, because it can make a great deal of difference to how problems are tackled and resolved.

The motivation as well as the effect of criticism may be rational, or it may be non-rational or arbitrary; it may be healthy or unhealthy.

When psychologists study criticism as a type of human behavior, they do not usually study it "in general" – such a general study is often considered to be more a philosophical concern. Psychologists usually study it in specific contexts and situations. The reason is partly technical (it is difficult to construct and prove universal generalizations about criticism as a human behavior) and partly practical (it is more useful to understand particular behaviors which are of direct practical concern).

The most basic rule

The most basic "rule-of-thumb" of criticism which psychologists usually recommend is:

"Respect the individual, focus the criticism on the behavior that needs changing – on what people actually do or actually say."

Rationale

The thought behind this basic norm for criticism is:

  • If individuals are attacked for their personal characteristics (for "being who they are") it may be impossible for them to change, therefore making the criticism useless.
  • If it is not actually clear what the person does, or what they are really saying, the criticism may miss the mark. By concentrating clearly and only on observation of what the individual as a matter of fact does or says, it is less likely, that the criticism will be misplaced, confused or misinterpreted; it is less likely, that the person being criticized is being misunderstood. It would be unfair and unjust, not to say irrelevant, to criticize people for something they have not actually done. It would be a false accusation.
  • Inversely, if the individuals are respected with a bit of humor, and due credit is given to their positive intentions as human beings, it is vastly more likely that the criticism will be understood, and taken seriously. And if the criticism is clearly directed only to "what people actually do" that is wrong, instead of "who they are", it creates possibilities, options and choices for doing something different and better. They can't change who they are, but they can change their actions. Because people's sense of dignity is secure in this case, they are better able to respond to the criticism, and indeed do something about it.

The critics may just want to provoke or vent a bit of hostility, but it might backfire, because the people criticized may make a nasty response. The nasty response may "prove" to the critics, that the criticism was justified, but the critics have brought this on themselves, they have produced their own nastiness. It is easy to do, but may be difficult to live with. In the process, the whole point of the criticism may be lost – all that happens is, that there is a quarrel between people who just vent their hostility. This is very unlikely to produce any solution that all concerned can live with.

The basic psychological rule of criticism assumes that people want to use criticism to achieve an improvement, usually "in good faith" (bona fide). It assumes the critic has a positive intention in making the criticism. The rule may not make much sense if there is an all-out war going on, where the opposition is just trying to destroy and discredit the target as much as possible, using almost any means they can find. Nevertheless, psychologists recommend to respond by attacking what the opponents actually do, not who they are. That way, the critic cannot be accused of unfair or prejudiced treatment of others.

Application

The basic rule is not always easy to apply.

  • It may be difficult to have respect for somebody who is the target of criticism, especially if there is a history of grievances.
  • It may be that it seems as though people are being respected, but in reality (if you understand the full meaning) they are being disrespected. It might look formally like they are treated as equals, but in reality (informally speaking, practically and substantively) they are being denigrated.
  • It may be difficult to consider the action which is being criticized, in its own right, separately from the person ("only you could do something awful like this to me").

Consequently, psychologists often recommend that before a criticism is being stated to a person, the critic should try to get into rapport with the person being criticized ("get in sync" with the other person, "on the same wavelength"). If that is not possible (because they are enemies), the best thing may be not to express the criticism at all, or get a mediator. It may take considerable strategy in order to find a way of making a criticism, so that it "really hits home". Rather than "shooting their mouth off", it may be wise if people say nothing, until the right time and place arrives to make the criticism.

One problem at the receiving end is that a criticism may be taken more seriously than it really merits, or that it is taken "too personally", even though that was not the intention of the critic. Criticisms are often voiced without knowing exactly what the response will be. It may be that this problem cannot be entirely removed; the best one can do is to judge, on the basis of experience, what would be the most likely effect of the criticism, and communicate the criticism as well as one can.

Another sort of problem is the limited attention span of individuals. To express a criticism may require detailed explanation or clarification; it presupposes that the knowledge exists to understand what it is about, and that people are willing to listen. That takes time, and the time may not be available, or people are reluctant to take the time. This can get in the way of the mutual respect required. It may be possible to overcome this problem only by formulating the criticism as briefly as possible, and communicate it in a form which takes the least time to understand it. Failing that, people must "make time" to discuss the criticism. It can take considerable effort to create the situation in which the criticism will be "heard".

Exception to the rule

The exception to the basic psychological rule consists of cases where, it is argued, the individuals and their behaviors cannot be distinguished. This would be the case, for example, if the criticism itself consisted of "being there" (intruding, trespassing, causing property damage), or "not being there" (non-response).

In some cases people deliberately seek "loopholes" in the ordinary rules and channels for criticism, in order to make a criticism which, although strictly not illegal, may have a malicious intention, or offends the target of the criticism. That can cause the ordinary consideration which people have for others to be abandoned. What is legitimate and illegitimate criticism is not always easy to establish, and there may be "grey areas" in the law. It is rarely possible to make rules for every detail of what people may or may not do. The law itself can also be contested with criticism, if it is perceived as unfair. Nevertheless, the courts usually draw the line somewhere.[3]

Learning to criticize

The ability to criticize is something which rarely occurs naturally; it must be learnt. Good critics exhibit several kinds of qualities:

  • Insight: critics should clearly understand why they are criticizing.
  • Attitude: critics should be emotionally confident and morally comfortable, both about making a criticism, and about dealing with the response to criticism.
  • Inquiry: critics should be willing to question authority, popular opinion, and assumptions.
  • Knowledge: critics should research the subject of their criticism to maintain the factual integrity of their criticism.
  • Skills: critics should choose and apply the correct kind of criticism to an issue, so that the criticism will be balanced, complete and persuasive. Critics require adequate skills in reasoning, research, and communication.
  • Integrity: critics should remain consistent and honest before, during, and after a criticism is expressed.

These qualities are learned through practical experience in which people have a dialogue or debate and give each other feedback. Often, teachers can design assignments specifically to stimulate students to acquire these qualities. But the facility for critical thought usually requires some personal initiative. There are plenty of "lazy critics", but one must work hard to be a good critic. The lazy critic is soon forgotten, but a good critic is remembered for years.

Balance

With criticism it is always important to keep things in proportion, neither overdoing things, nor being too timid.

  • People can be too critical, but they can also be insufficiently critical. It is important to strike a good balance: to be neither excessively critical nor completely uncritical.
  • People who are too critical and focus only on the downside or limitation of things run into the problem that others perceive them as being "too negative", and lacking a "constructive attitude". If there is too much criticism, it gets in the way of getting anything done – people are just "anti", but "it does not lead anywhere".
  • People who are uncritical, however, are often regarded as naive and superficial ("suckers"); they lack discernment, they are prone to being deceived and tricked, because they readily believe all kinds of things, which they should not accept just like that, for their own good. If they thought more critically, they would not give in so easily to what others say or do. The idea here is that "one should not be so open-minded that one's brains fall out."

An important reason why balanced criticism is desirable is, that if things get totally out of proportion, the critics or their targets can lose their balance themselves. Criticism can wreak havoc, and therefore people have to know how to handle it from both ends. If the criticism is balanced, it is more likely to be successful, or, at any rate, it has more credibility.

Effect on others

When psychologists analyze the effect of criticism on others, they are concerned with how people respond to criticism (cognitively and emotionally), and how criticism influences the recipient's behavior.

Positive and negative effects

When people criticize, it can have a fruitful, enriching and constructive effect on the recipient, because new ideas and viewpoints may be generated in trying to solve a problem.

People can also be hurt by criticisms, when they experience the criticism as a personal attack. Psychologists concerned with human communication, such as therapists, therefore often recommend that people should choose the right words to express their criticism. The same criticism can be raised in different ways, some more successful than others.

Formulation

If people formulate their criticism in the right way, it is more likely that other people will accept it. If the criticism is badly expressed, people might reject it, not because it is wrong in itself, but because they do not like being talked to in that way. Even if the content of a criticism is quite valid, the form in which it is expressed may be so counter-productive, that the criticism is not accepted. The content may be something that people can work out on their own, but the form concerns the social relationship between people.

Feedback fallacy

The term "feedback" is often used instead of criticism, because "feedback" may sound more neutral, while criticism may seem to be about "finding fault". A more polite language may be used when there are issues of authority and obedience ("who has to follow whom"), as well as the need for cooperative teamwork to get a job done ("constructive collegial attitude"). The question is often "who controls the feedback", "who is allowed to criticize", "who owns the problem" and "who is to do something about the problem". It may be that managers educate employees to employ a more positive and professional language, in order to get them to see things in a way that is more productive for the enterprise.

Quality

Especially educators, but also e.g. lawyers, managers and politicians are very concerned with the quality of criticisms. People might raise all kinds of objections and criticisms, but how good are they? Criticisms can be just "noise". They can also be a nuisance if they are misdirected, they get in the way of getting things done.

Good

Ideally, a criticism should be:

  • timely, not too early nor too late.
  • brief and succinct, with a clear start and a finish, not endless.
  • relevant and to the point, not misplaced.
  • clear, specific and precise, not vague.
  • well-researched, not based on hear-say or speculative thought.
  • sincere and positively intended, not malicious.
  • articulate, persuasive and actionable, so that the recipient can both understand the criticism and be motivated to act on the message.[4][5]

Not all criticisms have all these features, but if one or more of them is missing, the criticism is less likely to achieve its goal. Almost all guidelines for criticism mention these seven points, although in particular contexts their meaning may be more exactly specified (for example, what it means to be "articulate and persuasive" can vary according to the circumstances).

Lousy

Logically, there are just as many ways to get a criticism wrong as to get the criticism right.

  • Criticism is made at the wrong time and place: people might accept that the critic has a point, but "they can't do anything about it now."
  • Criticism is too long: people get confused over what it is all about, they get lost in it, and become disoriented.
  • Criticism is vague: people are likely to say, "so what"?
  • Criticism is inappropriate, or the critic is not really in a position to make it: people will say "you're way out of line".
  • Criticism has no clear target: people are likely just to conclude that "so-and-so is in a bad mood right now" or "he's had too much of it."
  • Criticism assigns blame or states problems without suggesting solutions ("empty criticism"): people are likely to conclude this information is not very useful.[6]
  • Critic did no research before making the criticism: people will say, "very interesting, but this cuts no ice."
  • Criticism has no clear motivation: "why are you telling me this, and why are you telling me about it now?".
  • Critic makes bad criticisms regularly: it discredits the critic.

The main effect of lousy criticism is usually that, rather than clarifying things, it becomes disorienting or confusing to people. Therefore, lousy criticism is usually regarded as unhelpful, or as an unwanted distraction getting in the way of things. The only thing a lousy criticism achieves is to make it clear that somebody has an objection (although the objection is not well-taken).

Techniques of constructive criticism

Techniques of constructive criticism aim to improve the behavior or the behavioral results of a person, while consciously avoiding personal attacks and blaming. This kind of criticism is carefully framed in language acceptable to the target person, often acknowledging that the critics themselves could be wrong. Insulting language and hostile language are avoided, and phrases are used like "I feel..." and "It's my understanding that..." and so on. Constructive critics try to stand in the shoes of the person criticized, and consider what things would look like from their perspective.[7]

Giving and receiving the message

Some people are not open to any criticism at all, even constructive criticism.[8] Also, there is an art to truly constructive criticism: being well-intentioned is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for constructively criticizing, since one can have good intentions but poor delivery ("I don't know why my girlfriend keeps getting mad when I tell her to stop with the fries already; I'm just concerned about her weight"), or egocentric intentions but appropriate delivery ("I'm sick of my subordinate coming in late for work, so I took her aside and we had a long, compassionate talk about her work-life balance. I think she bought it."). As the name suggests, the consistent and central notion is that the criticism must have the aim of constructing, scaffolding, or improving a situation, something which is generally obstructed by hostile language or personal attacks.

People can sometimes be afraid to express a criticism, or afraid to be criticized. Criticism can "press all the wrong buttons." The threat of criticism can be sufficient to silence people, or cause them to stay away. So self-confidence can play a big role in criticism – the confidence to criticize, and the confidence to face criticism. If people's emotions are not properly considered, criticism can fail to succeed, even although it is well-intentioned, or perfectly sensible. Hence criticism is often considered an "art", because it involves human insight into "what one can say and cannot say" in the given situation.

Hamburger method

One style of constructive criticism employs the "hamburger method",[9] in which each potentially harsh criticism (the "meat") is surrounded by compliments (the "buns"). The idea is to help the person being criticized feel more comfortable, and assure the person that the critic's perspective is not entirely negative. This is a specific application of the more general principle that criticism should be focused on maintaining healthy relationships, and be mindful of the positive as well as the negative.[10]

Psychopathology

The psychopathology of criticism refers to the study of unhealthy forms of criticism, and of unhealthy kinds of response to criticism. Psychologists often associate these with particular categories of mental disorders, especially personality disorders, as classified in the U.S. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (this manual is also used in other countries, although the forms of personality disorders can be somewhat different in different countries, reflecting ethnic differences and differences in social systems).

  • Low self-esteem: emotionally vulnerable individuals that are often excessively sensitive to criticism, or to being defeated, they can't handle it.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may "haunt" or leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty. They may react with disdain, revenge, narcissistic rage, or defiance.[11] Narcissists are extremely sensitive to personal criticism and extremely critical of other people. They think they must be seen as perfect or superior or infallible or else they are worthless. There's no middle ground.[12]
  • Paranoid personality disorder: these people are often rigidly critical of others, but have great difficulty accepting criticism themselves.[13]
  • Avoidant personality disorder: these people are hypersensitive to criticism or rejection. They build up a defensive shell. If the criticism seems to imply something bad about them, a defensive shell immediately snaps into place.
  • Dependent personality disorder: individuals that will often apologize and "self-correct" in response to criticism at the drop of a hat.
  • Hypercriticism: these people are often regarded as anal retentive or nitpickers (see nagging). Nitpickers engage in minute, trivial, and unjustified faultfinding to excess.[14] Nagging means endless scolding, complaints, and faultfinding.[15]
  • Hypocriticism: these individuals are hypocrites who criticize and accuse others about the vice that they are guilty of themselves.[16] Hypocrisy contains some kind of deception, and therefore involves a kind of lying.[16]

To understand pathological criticism and pathological responses to criticism, it is often not sufficient to see the individuals concerned in isolation – they should be placed in the total context in which the criticism or the response to it occurs. Particular situations can "bring out" the "bad side" of people, which in the normal run of events would not occur. Pathological criticism occurs especially in situations of intense conflict or competition, where the normal internal and external controls on people's behaviour begin to break down. Not just personal change but also a "change of scene" may be required to get rid of the disorder.

A term describing pathologic criticism may be used as argumentum ad hominem without proven diagnosis (see also anti-psychiatry movement).

Anti-psychiatry movement

The anti-psychiatry movement opposes labeling persons who engage in criticism as having a "disease" (or "abuse" or "addiction").

  • The medicalization of criticism rejects the criticism as a disease. The critics are silenced, and their viewpoint is denied. They are regarded as incapable of sensible criticism, but their disease often cannot be proved – other than saying that voicing a criticism in a certain way is proof of a disease.
  • Why exactly a criticism is "unhealthy" can be difficult to prove, nevermind its rights or wrongs – it could be subjective interpretation, a matter of personal likes and dislikes, or a matter of point of view. What is "healthy" or "unhealthy" might depend on the context, or on how it is understood.
  • People labelled as "ill" cannot be held morally responsible for their critical utterances, but people can often choose their own behaviour with regard to criticism, and they should take responsibility for their own behaviour, if they can practically do so.
  • Even if it is possible to kill the criticism with a pill, the cause or the target of the criticism may not go away. A bad situation may remain; the only difference is that somebody is doped sufficiently, so that no overt criticism is made or received.

Confronted with unhealthy criticism or unhealthy responses to criticism, it may be unwise to get scared, and it may be unnecessary to run to the doctor straightaway. It may be sufficient to talk it out, even if it is not the most pleasant discussion. If people are simply labelled "ill", they get away with behaviour that, arguably, they ought to be taking responsibility for, themselves. It should not be too easily assumed that people are incapable of making conscious choices about their own behaviour, unless they are deranged (crazy), in great pain, extraordinarily confused, heavily intoxicated, or in some way trapped or locked down.

Authority issues

Criticism can cause harm as well as good things. Criticism can hurt or people can feel offended. It can “upset the apple cart”, cause chaos, or do real damage. For these reasons, people often try to keep the flow of criticism under control with rules. Such rules often state:

  • Who has the right to criticize, and who isn’t allowed to criticize.
  • Who or what can be criticized, and who or what cannot be criticized.
  • What sorts of criticism are acceptable.
  • When and how the criticism may be made (the appropriate situations and formats for criticism).
  • What counts as an appropriate motivation for criticism.

These rules can be successful if people accept them, and work with them. But it can also happen that a criticism can only be made “against the rules.” In that case, a conflict can develop between the critics and the people in charge, where the authorities try to enforce the rules, and the critics try to make their criticism regardless. The conflict could be ended in many different ways; but usually it is difficult to suppress a valid criticism altogether, permanently. A lot of critical activity may consist simply of a battle to get one’s ideas taken seriously.

Purpose

Here the purpose of criticism and its relative merits in particular situations are discussed.

Negative arguments

Criticism may not be a positive response to an individual, action, or belief in all circumstances. There are two reasons that this might be the case:

  • The recipient of the critique may be hurt by it. This is particularly true when the object of criticism is personal (a political or religious belief, for example) or when the critique is composed in a malicious way, rather than in an attempt to improve the recipient.
  • The critique may not result in any positive change. If the critique is not written in a persuasive manner, if the recipient of the criticism isn't willing to acknowledge their faults, or if the recipient lacks the resources needed for change, then the critique will not have an impact.

Affirmative arguments

However, there are also significant reasons why a critique may be necessary or desirable in particular situations.

  • Diagnosis and error correction: critiques identify the limitations of the object of criticism. A film critic, for example, might discuss the extent to which a particular film was able to communicate a theme. Criticisms also identify prejudices, biases, and hidden assumptions.
  • Improvement: by evaluating the ability of an individual, action, or idea to accomplish a given objective, critiques identify possible improvement areas. Criticisms may also present alternative perspectives or suggestions, both of which facilitate improvement.
  • Ethical implications: critiques of societal norms or public policies have the potential to effect a large number of people in a profound way and are thus ethically desirable.

See also

References

  1. ^ Raymond Williams, Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society. Fontana, 1976, pp. 74–76.
  2. ^ "Module: Critical thinking". Philosophy.hku.hk. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  3. ^ Andale Gross and Tammy Webber, "Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case." The Seattle Times, 26 November 2014.[1]
  4. ^ J.R. Hackman and G.R. Oldham. Work Redesign. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc, 1980; pp. 78–80.
  5. ^ Katz, Ralph. Motivating Technical Professionals Today. IEEE Engineering Management Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, March 2013, pp. 28–38
  6. ^ Edgar H. Schein (with Peter S. DeLisi, Paul J. Kampas and Michael Sonduck), DEC is Dead, Long Live DEC – The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equipment Corporation (Lessons on Innovation, Technology and the Business Gene), Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2003
  7. ^ Ross Bonander (2008-10-19). "AskMen How to: Give Constructive Criticism". Askmen.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  8. ^ "WiseGeek What is Constructive Criticism?". Wisegeek.com. 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  9. ^ "The Hamburger Method of Constructive Criticism". N8tip.com. 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  10. ^ "The 4-1-1 On Constructive Criticism". Inc.com. 2001-08-03. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  11. ^ "Internet Mental Health". Mentalhealth.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  12. ^ "Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) : How to Recognize a Narcissist". Halcyon.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  13. ^ "Internet Mental Health – paranoid personality disorder". Mentalhealth.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  14. ^ "nitpicking - definition of nitpicking by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  15. ^ "nagging – definition of nagging by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  16. ^ a b "Definition of "Hypocrite" on dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
Ann Coulter

Ann Hart Coulter (; born December 8, 1961) is an American far-right conservative social and political commentator, writer, syndicated columnist, and lawyer.

Born in New York City, Coulter was raised in New Canaan, Connecticut. She deepened her conservative interests while studying history at Cornell University, where she helped found The Cornell Review. She subsequently embarked on a career as a law clerk before rising to prominence in the 1990s as an outspoken critic of the Clinton administration. Her first book concerned the Bill Clinton impeachment, and sprang from her experience writing legal briefs for Paula Jones's attorneys, as well as columns she wrote about the cases.Coulter's syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate appears in newspapers, and is featured on conservative websites. Coulter has written 12 best-selling books.

C (programming language)

C (, as in the letter c) is a general-purpose, imperative computer programming language, supporting structured programming, lexical variable scope and recursion, while a static type system prevents many unintended operations. By design, C provides constructs that map efficiently to typical machine instructions, and therefore it has found lasting use in applications that had formerly been coded in assembly language, including operating systems, as well as various application software for computers ranging from supercomputers to embedded systems.

C was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1972 and 1973 at Bell Labs. It was created to make utilities running on Unix. Later, it was applied to re-implementing the kernel of the Unix operating system. Through 1980s, C gradually gained popularity. Nowadays, it is one of the most widely used programming languages with C compilers from various vendors available for the majority of existing computer architectures and operating systems. C has been standardized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) since 1989 (see ANSI C) and subsequently by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

C is an imperative procedural language. It was designed to be compiled using a relatively straightforward compiler, to provide low-level access to memory, to provide language constructs that map efficiently to machine instructions, and to require minimal run-time support. Despite its low-level capabilities, the language was designed to encourage cross-platform programming. A standards-compliant C program that is written with portability in mind can be compiled for a very wide variety of computer platforms and operating systems with few changes to its source code. The language has become available on a very wide range of platforms, from embedded microcontrollers to supercomputers.

Censorship

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by a government or private institution (such as in corporate censorship).

Governments and private organizations may engage in censorship. Other groups or institutions may propose and petition for censorship. When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of their own works or speech, it is referred to as self-censorship. It occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander and libel.

Direct censorship may or may not be legal, depending on the type, location, and content. Many countries provide strong protections against censorship by law, but none of these protections are absolute and frequently a claim of necessity to balance conflicting rights is made, in order to determine what could and could not be censored. There are no laws against self-censorship.

Criticism of Islam

Criticism of Islam has existed since its formative stages. Early written disapproval came from Christians and Jews as well as by some former Muslims such as Ibn al-Rawandi. Later the Muslim world itself suffered criticism. Western criticism has grown in the 21st century especially after the September 11 attacks and other terrorist incidents. As of 2014, about a quarter of the world's countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy and apostasy laws or policies, of which 13 nations, all Muslim majority, have death penalty for apostasy.Objects of criticism include the morality of the life of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, both in his public and personal life. Issues relating to the authenticity and morality of the constitutional scriptures of Islam, both the Quran and the hadiths, are also discussed by critics. Islam has also been viewed as a form of Arab imperialism and has received criticism by figures from Africa and India for what they perceive as the destruction of indigenous cultures. Other criticism focuses on the question of human rights in the Islamic world historically and in modern Islamic nations, including the treatment of women, LGBT people, religious and ethnic minorities in Islamic law and practice. In the wake of the recent multiculturalism trend, Islam's influence on the ability or willingness of Muslim immigrants to assimilate in the Western world, and other countries such as India, and Russia, has been criticized.

Falun Gong

Falun Gong (UK: , US: ) or Falun Dafa (; Standard Mandarin Chinese: [fàlwə̌n tâfà]; literally, "Dharma Wheel Practice" or "Law Wheel Practice") is a Chinese religious spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (Chinese: 真、善、忍). The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to eliminate attachments, and ultimately to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Falun Gong originated and was first taught publicly in northeastern China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. It emerged toward the end of China's "qigong boom"—a period that saw a proliferation of similar practices of meditation, slow-moving energy exercises and regulated breathing. It differs from other qigong schools in its absence of fees or formal membership, lack of daily rituals of worship, its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings. Western academics have described Falun Gong as a qigong discipline, a "spiritual movement", a "cultivation system" in the tradition of Chinese antiquity, or as a form of Chinese religion.

The practice initially enjoyed support from Chinese officialdom, but by the mid to late 1990s, the Communist Party and public security organizations increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state, and spiritual teachings. By 1999, government estimates placed the number of Falun Gong practitioners at 70 million. During that time, negative coverage of Falun Gong began to appear in the state-run press, and practitioners usually responded by picketing the source involved. Most of the time, the practitioners succeeded, but controversy and tension continued to build. The scale of protests grew until April 1999, when over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered near the central government compound in Beijing to request legal recognition and freedom from state interference. This demonstration is widely seen as catalyzing the persecution that followed.

On 20 July 1999, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. It blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong, and in October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a "heretical organization" that threatened social stability. Falun Gong practitioners in China are reportedly subject to a wide range of human rights abuses: hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labor, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities. As of 2009, human rights groups estimated that at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody. One observer reported that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China's organ transplant industry (see Organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China). In the years since the persecution began, Falun Gong practitioners have become active in advocating for greater human rights in China.

Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi has lived in New York City since 1996, and Falun Gong has a sizable global constituency. Inside China, estimates suggest that tens of millions continued to practice Falun Gong in spite of the persecution. Hundreds of thousands are estimated to practice Falun Gong outside China in over 70 countries worldwide.

Film criticism

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films and the film medium. The concept is often used interchangeably with that of film reviews. A film review implies a recommendation aimed at consumers, however not all film criticism takes the form of reviews.

In general, film criticism can be divided into two categories: journalistic criticism which appears regularly in newspapers, magazines and other popular mass-media outlets; and academic criticism by film scholars who are informed by film theory and are published in academic journals. Academic film criticism rarely takes the form of a review; instead it is more likely to analyse the film and its place within the history of its genre, or the whole of film history.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in beta in November 2004, the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents. While Google does not publish the size of Google Scholar's database, scientometric researchers estimated it to contain roughly 389 million documents including articles, citations and patents making it the world's largest academic search engine in January 2018. Previously, the size was estimated at 160 million documents as of May 2014. Earlier statistical estimate published in PLOS ONE using a Mark and recapture method estimated approximately 80–90% coverage of all articles published in English with an estimate of 100 million. This estimate also determined how many documents were freely available on the web.

Google Scholar has been criticized for not vetting journals and including predatory journals in its index.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. Intellectual property encompasses two types of rights; industrial property rights (trademarks, patents, designations of origin, industrial designs and models) and copyright. It was not until the 19th century that the term "intellectual property" began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world.The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a large variety of intellectual goods. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create – usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to profit from the information and intellectual goods they create. These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.The intangible nature of intellectual property presents difficulties when compared with traditional property like land or goods. Unlike traditional property, intellectual property is "indivisible" – an unlimited number of people can "consume" an intellectual good without it being depleted. Additionally, investments in intellectual goods suffer from problems of appropriation – a landowner can surround their land with a robust fence and hire armed guards to protect it, but a producer of information or an intellectual good can usually do very little to stop their first buyer from replicating it and selling it at a lower price. Balancing rights so that they are strong enough to encourage the creation of intellectual goods but not so strong that they prevent the goods' wide use is the primary focus of modern intellectual property law.

Literary criticism

Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of literature's goals and methods. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.

Whether or not literary criticism should be considered a separate field of inquiry from literary theory, or conversely from book reviewing, is a matter of some controversy. For example, the Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism draws no distinction between literary theory and literary criticism, and almost always uses the terms together to describe the same concept. Some critics consider literary criticism a practical application of literary theory, because criticism always deals directly with particular literary works, while theory may be more general or abstract.

Literary criticism is often published in essay or book form. Academic literary critics teach in literature departments and publish in academic journals, and more popular critics publish their reviews in broadly circulating periodicals such as the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the Dublin Review of Books, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

McDonald's

McDonald's is an American fast food company, founded in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, United States. They rechristened their business as a hamburger stand, and later turned the company into a franchise, with the Golden Arches logo being introduced in 1953 at a location in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1955, Ray Kroc, a businessman, joined the company as a franchise agent and proceeded to purchase the chain from the McDonald brothers. McDonald's had its original headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, but moved its global headquarters to Chicago in early 2018.McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across approximately 36,900 outlets as of 2016. Although McDonald's is best known for its hamburgers, cheeseburgers and french fries, they also feature chicken products, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, wraps, and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes and a negative backlash because of the unhealthiness of their food, the company has added to its menu salads, fish, smoothies, and fruit. The McDonald's Corporation revenues come from the rent, royalties, and fees paid by the franchisees, as well as sales in company-operated restaurants. According to a BBC report published in 2012, McDonald's is the world's second-largest private employer (behind Walmart) with 1.9 million employees, 1.5 million of whom work for franchises.

Myth

Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in society, such as foundational tales. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods or supernatural humans. Myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and are closely linked to religion or spirituality. In fact, many societies group their myths, legends and history together, considering myths to be true accounts of their remote past. Creation myths particularly, take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later form. Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and enactment of rituals.

The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, and psychology. The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject. The academic comparisons of bodies of myth is known as comparative mythology.

PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, and This Old House.PBS is funded by member station dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, corporate contributions, National Datacast, pledge drives, private foundations, and individual citizens. All proposed funding for programming is subject to a set of standards to ensure the program is free of influence from the funding source.Since the mid-2000s, Roper Opinion Research polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as the most-trusted national institution in the United States. A 2016–2017 study by Nielsen Media Research found 80% of all US television households view the network's programs. However, PBS is not responsible for all programming carried on public television stations, a large proportion of which may come from affiliates, including such member stations as WGBH, WETA, WNET, WTTW, American Public Television, and independent producers. This distinction regarding the origin of different programs is a frequent source of viewer confusion.The Public Broadcasting Service has more than 350 member television stations, many owned by educational institutions, nonprofit groups affiliated with one particular local public school district or collegiate educational institution, or entities owned by or related to state government.

Pejorative

A pejorative (also called a derogatory term, a slur, a term of abuse, or a term of disparagement) is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative connotation or a low opinion of someone or something, showing a lack of respect for someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or ethnic groups but not in others. Sometimes, a term may begin as a pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense (or vice versa) in some or all contexts.

Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo, rather than being a direct pejorative. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or be applied to a group of people considered by anyone to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning.

Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of using language to convince or persuade. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" and since mastery of the art was necessary for victory in a case at law or for passage of proposals in the assembly or for fame as a speaker in civic ceremonies, calls it "a combination of the science of logic and of the ethical branch of politics". Rhetoric typically provides heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals, logos, pathos, and ethos. The five canons of rhetoric or phases of developing a persuasive speech were first codified in classical Rome: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

From Ancient Greece to the late 19th century, rhetoric, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella) is one of the three ancient arts of discourse, played a central role in Western education in training orators, lawyers, counsellors, historians, statesmen, and poets.

Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Rolling Stone Press is the magazine's associated book publishing imprint. Straight Arrow Press was the magazine's associated book publishing imprint, Straight Arrow Publishing Co., Inc. was the publishing company that published the Rolling Stone.

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is an American review-aggregation website for film and television. The company was launched in August 1998 by three undergraduate students at the University of California, Berkeley: Senh Duong, Patrick Y. Lee, and Stephen Wang. The name "Rotten Tomatoes" derives from the practice of audiences throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance.

Since January 2010, Rotten Tomatoes has been owned by Flixster, which was in turn acquired by Warner Bros. in 2011. In February 2016, Rotten Tomatoes and its parent site Flixster were sold to Comcast's Fandango. Warner Bros. retained a minority stake in the merged entities, including Fandango.

Textual criticism

Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship, philology, and literary criticism that is concerned with the identification of textual variants in either manuscripts or printed books. Scribes can make alterations when copying manuscripts by hand. Given a manuscript copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the textual critic might seek to reconstruct the original text (urtext, archetype or autograph) as closely as possible. The same processes can be used to attempt to reconstruct intermediate versions, or recensions, of a document's transcription history. The objective of the textual critic's work is a better understanding of the creation and historical transmission of texts. This understanding may lead to the production of a "critical edition" containing a scholarly curated text.

There are many approaches to textual criticism, notably eclecticism, stemmatics, and copy-text editing. Quantitative techniques are also used to determine the relationships between witnesses to a text, with methods from evolutionary biology (phylogenetics) appearing effective on a range of traditions.

In some domains (religious and classical text editing) the phrase "lower criticism" is used to describe the contrast between textual criticism and "higher criticism", which is the endeavor to establish the authorship, date, and place of composition of the original text.

Uber

Uber is a transportation network company (TNC) headquartered in San Francisco, California. Uber offers services including peer-to-peer ridesharing, taxi cab hailing, food delivery, and a bicycle-sharing system. The company has operations in 785 metropolitan areas worldwide. Its platforms can be accessed via its websites and mobile apps. Uber has been so prominent in the sharing economy that the changes in industries as a result of it have been referred to as Uberisation and many startups have described their products as "Uber for X".The name "Uber" is a reference to the common (and somewhat colloquial) word uber, meaning "topmost" or "super", and having its origins in the German word über, cognate with over, meaning "above".Uber is estimated to have 100 million worldwide users and a 69% market share in the United States.Uber is a gold member of the Linux Foundation and has a five star privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.Most jurisdictions regulate TNCs such as Uber and TNCs are banned from operating in some jurisdictions. For more information, see Legality of TNCs by jurisdiction.

United States Department of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally.

Approximately 80% of the USDA's $141 billion budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program. The largest component of the FNS budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program), which is the cornerstone of USDA's nutrition assistance.The current Secretary of Agriculture is Sonny Perdue.

United States Department of Homeland Security

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the U.S. federal government with responsibilities in public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management. It was created in response to the September 11 attacks and is the youngest U.S. cabinet department.

In fiscal year 2017, it was allocated a net discretionary budget of $40.6 billion. With more than 240,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is the head of the department. The current secretary is Kirstjen Nielsen, since December 5, 2017.

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