Depending on the degree to which you are passionate about the whole global-improvement project, you might refuse to co-operate with anything that undermines the very principal of independence. The most extreme examples are whistle-blowers who risk their careers and their lives to tell the stories their own higher-ups never wanted anyone to hear. Not every example of censorship, editing, or spinning, is in the same category but refusal to tolerate any perceived injustice or interference could make a difference to most areas of work.It could be the case, though, that the lower-downs know a bit less than the higher-ups; of course, it’s impossible to know that until you become one of the higher-ups. There are agendas and relationships and imminent announcements and reputations among the myriad of contextual factors when you stand up to make your presentation or when you publish your report. Without knowing what they are it’s easy to imagine that nothing could be more important than your new big idea, but there could be a good reason for the intervention, some genuine dependence that trumps your independence. Allowing the higher-ups the benefit of the doubt but wanting to retain your principals, it’s time to compromise.Compromise
Like any negotiation, you need a starting position and a bottom line. The starting position is the story you’d like to tell, with all the novelty and the twists and the scary characters, no matter how unpopular it might be. The bottom line is the moral of the story that you won’t allow to be changed in the telling. Even in statistics, which is supposed to be objective and all, there’s plenty of room for selection and interpretation and plenty of scope for pressure. You might have to grope your way through, it might get messy, but try to keep true to your story.
There are the very obvious examples of censorship – the banning of books, the blocking of websites, the internment of journalists – and then there is the minor, local, almost invisible censorship that you sometimes don’t even notice until you find yourself deleting that slide from your presentation or re-writing that paragraph. Having been trained to think independently and guard your independence closely, it’s likely to be squashed, squeezed, and compromised in the real world. Censorship usually occurs when someone wants to tell a particular story regardless of the evidence and it risks turning everything into a fairy tale so you’ll need to be brave, just like Little Red Riding Hood.