Fake News and Bad News and Biased News . . . and you.
Our constant struggles in political and social philosophies have brought out a divisiveness in this country the likes of which we haven't seen since the Civil War. That may seem extreme, but it's really not. All we have to do is turn on a news network, actually pay attention to our personal conversations, scroll through facebook or twitter. And we're all guilty of it. I am, you are, the press is, politicians are . . . EVERYONE! So, what's wrong with that? Is there something inherently wrong with having a difference of opinion? Of course there isn't, but there is something wrong in the idea of maintaining and ideology that seems more important to you than does reality. There will always be differences in opinion, but we can't just ignore facts because they contradict our bias. We should embrace them, internalize them, and amend our philosophies. This is what science does all the time; based on the facts, it updates the conclusion. Sometimes, in science, the newly presented facts completely make a mockery of all pre-existing data and assumptions. What's great about that though is that scientists love that!! They want to be correct, they want the integrity of the data, and they are not married to previous data so much that they can't see the fault and move on. So . . . why can't we be like that? Simple answer, philosophy is much more emotional than science. We have personal experience tied to our notions. We have family behind it, friends involved . . . many people have a god that dictates certain social philosophies. We also have selfishness and potentially a disregard for the concerns of others. There's so many things that go in to our beliefs. We can't ignore reality though.
Fake news is nothing new, and it can unfortunately reach a lot of people. Sometimes, fake news can reach more people than the real news . . . and we are susceptible. A lot of times, people take the information first given to them and don't bother to fact check it. How many times have you watched something like Dr. Oz make "miracle" claim about some weight loss pill, then you picked it up the next time you saw it at the store? How many times have you listened to someone on CNN or Fox make a claim and you just repeat it? You ever listen to Infowars? DON'T!!!
We have to retrain our brains a bit. We have to be honest with ourselves. Try to get to the bottom of why you believe what you believe; in other words, use epistemology. Epistemology is:
Now, how do we deal with all of the fake news and bad news then? We have to do homework, plain and simple. Don't just believe people. Here are some tips:
- MEMES. If you haven't seen the quote or claim before, start from scratch. Memes are some of the most deliberate lies out there. They're short and look fun and they're easier to share as a zinger. Always check the Meme.
- Check the source. Is it verifiable? What does the data say?
- Read the entire story before you share it or form a conclusion.
- Check other material from the site and the author. The site will often times be a dead giveaway with their headlines, boasting absurd claims and definitive righteousness. Is the author credible? How're their editorial skills? Do they sound like an arrogant tool?
- When was the article written or when was the data provided for the current claim being made? People date their opinions frequently.
- What is your personal bias? CHECK YOURSELF!
We obviously gain knowledge about things over time, so if something sticks out to you . . . don't be so quick to share. Go through the steps first. It's ok to be wrong.
More reading: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/