We recently posted a plea to all of you to pay attention to the news, politics, and world events so that you can be a more informed consumer and aware citizen.
But how can you be an intelligent consumer of the news when so much of the media has a bias?
This is a seriously important question and we hope it’s something you’ve already considered in the ways that you partake in social media and who you choose to listen to as an authority on the topics you care about. Whether it’s finding a source to teach you about the paleo diet or being vegan or biohacking your life or whatever interests you, it’s super important to be discerning and use logic and reason and rational thought to come up with the viewpoints that you are forming for yourself.
Never wholesale accept what someone tells you – anyone – even EssaySnark! We have offered that advice specific to the process of applying for an MBA with posts in the ‘snarchive like Be a sponge but have a filter and it totally applies here too. Even more so.
Nobody knows anything. Not really. Not when we’re talking about how the world really works. One person may have a good understanding of one infinitesimal slice of the external world, but everything is only a hypothesis. In the ’80s and ’90s they claimed that eating fat was what made us fat, and now they realize that oh hey, that may not be true, that eating carbs and the insulin response are more closely associated with being overweight.
We look back on ancient times and laugh at the idiots who thought the world was flat.
We simply don’t have the perspective yet today to know which things are said to be “true” are in the same category. But absolutely without a doubt, there will be entire schools of thought that exist today that will be undermined and discovered to be based on incorrect knowledge. (Yes, we realize that “incorrect knowledge” is an oxymoron but it’s the best way to say it.)
And that’s just in the category of well-intentioned people who are genuinely interested in truth.
Unfortunately there are many others out there who are outright bad actors, who are genuinely interested in deceptive, perversion of “facts” and spreading disinformation.
It’s one thing to propose an idea in good faith and later discover you’re wrong.
It’s altogether different to pitch an idea that you know to be false.
Yet that’s what happens all the time. The label of “fake media” is used indiscriminately now by a president who labels everything said about him that he doesn’t like as fake, but still, it’s oftentimes deserved.
We’re not going to lay out a list of news outlets that are good or bad; many of them do have an agenda. If you watch Fox News then hopefully you KNOW their agenda is to support a particular viewpoint. If you watch MSNBC, then the same-exact statement is true. That doesn’t mean that every story you see on those outlets is wrong. It means that many, many stories are told through a particular lens — and yes, sometimes they are outright wrong, or they’re so selective in what they choose to say that they warp reality. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum.
Does that mean you shouldn’t watch any news or that all news is suspect? No, not at all. It means being judicious in who you trust.
Consuming media of any kind is a diet — a diet of the mind.
What are you choosing to put into your body?
The things we think form who we are.
This can be taken on an ultimately literal level. Courtesy of The Buddha:
You are what you think.
All that you are arises with your thoughts.
With your thoughts you make the world.
Or another Buddha, aka William Shakespeare:
Nothing is either good or bad
But thinking makes it so.
We get a rush when we read something or see some segment that reinforces our views of the world. Seeking out perspectives that are dissimilar to ours is not natural. It goes against the internal wiring. And yet, being a savvy consumer in the marketplace of ideas requires that you do so.
Conspiracy theories abound, and they can be intoxicating. What if they’re right? What if Americans did orchestrate the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001? What if there is a Deep State?
These ideas are more than tantalizing; they trigger a core part of our internal wiring that causes excitement, and even addiction.
EssaySnark is not wading into those particular swamps.
We will temper our advice from yesterday about please being actively engaged in understanding world events by also exhorting you to please don’t click on crap.
The world appears to be in a perilous place. So many bad things are happening. It can feel like forces are conspiring against the good and the true.
But that too is an illusion, and all illusions fall apart under clear-headed scrutiny, with the application of the light of wisdom and rationality.
Want to learn more about this? Please consider reading through the entirety of the incredible series published by the clear-headed thinker Tim Urban at Wait, But Why? that went up last fall, starting here:
Reading the entire series (yes it’s very long and a real commitment of time) is going to be most valuable, but if you want to just dip your toes in the water of what we are emphasizing as important, then starting with Chapter 6: The Thinking Ladder could be enough. The tl;dr of The Thinking Ladder is that we can get trapped in thinking through a wholly emotional lens — the place where things like conspiracy theories like PizzaGate, or how school shootings are fake, or the moon landing didn’t happen, all seem to be plausibly true — and this is really really dangerous because we end up believing things that feel good rather than things that are true.
For society to change, evolve, grow, and survive, we need to be each individually believing things that are true.
If you care about the world existing in the future with human beings living on it, then we hope you’ll agree that these are values worth holding.
Want to learn how to avoid getting duped by the media? This explanation from Scientific American will help!