Navigating the News

It was during the primaries that I started noticing the problem with fake or misleading news. I realized that articles from US Uncut and Daily News Bin would later be debunked by Snopes or a more credible site. And this problem is by now means confined to liberal sources. Brietbart anyone?

The problem is best summarized in this article, Bernie Sanders Could Replace President Trump With a Little Known Loophole. I avoided reading this article because the headline was so ridiculous, but that was the point. And it was when Sanders was losing in the primaries that I became aware of the problem with hyper partisan news when everyone could find something that confirmed their biases that had little validity. I was concerned (and angry) as I watched Sanders play into the narratives of corruption and stoked his followers with false hope that he could win. I watched people who are very smart but were tricked anyway as they were duped by his promises and I worried about the consequences down the road. And for the people who truly believed in Sanders, the fact that he lost California was genuinely surprising and upsetting for them. They believed he would pull it off despite all the evidence to the contrary. And I felt that that was dangerous.

And I’m trying to avoid the same thing and to keep my expectations in check for what will happen when the Electoral College meets to vote. We have to think and prepare for the worse case scenario and not let ourselves get complacent with false hopes.

I came up with some rules for evaluating news on my feed during this election that I would like to now share.

  1. The more I want to believe it, the more skeptical I need to be.
  2. Verify with multiple sources.
  3. Read opposing opinions and see how well their arguments stand up against what you are reading from sources you agree with.

I’m also planning on going through the sites I am following on Facebook and seeing the sources those sites are posting from. I’m trying to determine what percentage of sources shared from non-credible sites is too high and for me to stop following them.

At any case, what is very apparent to me, is that teaching critical thinking skills is important, now more than ever.


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