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OR HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR MISINFORMATION
by ProfDave, ©2020
(Sep. 23, 2020) — Today’s snicker: I am confident that your misinformed political opinions are even more misinformed than mine (someecards).
Not sure that is funny. Is it just me, or has positive information gone the way of the dodo bird? I do not trust any political sources. Both sides have been accusing each other of fake news all year. Conspiracies, too. We don’t remember who started it.
Everybody has his own perspective and point of view, of course. Historians are accustomed to that and figure windage. But this leaning is bias, shading off into propaganda. Not just spin, but “narratives” based on malice – malice thick enough to make things up. You start with a thesis that so-and-so is a racist or an anarchist or whatever and you make sure every bit of news is interpreted to support that thesis. In fact, the thesis itself is treated as fact. Please tell me our networks – across the spectrum – are not doing this.
So how do we figure out what is really going on? The only way we can: by choosing our misinformation to suit our preferences. Four rules for choosing your misinformation carefully:
- Dismiss ad-hominem attacks – we all have character defects, but smearing people is not usually a good argument. Bad people can be right and good people can pursue bad policies. It is particularly unfortunate that this election is being run on name-calling rather than policy.
- Slogans are not necessarily true. They may sound good but are not chosen for accuracy. See number 1.
- Be suspicious of all conspiracy theories. The bigger the conspiracy, the more unlikely it is to be real.
- Does this make sense – is it consistent with logic, reality and what we already have seen? Is it logical? And
- Dismiss the extremes on both sides of the spectrum (including your own). The more extreme it is, the more unlikely it is.
Follow these rules and your misinformation will not be too far off.
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.”