Editorial: Fact or Fiction

It’s getting hard to tell good info from bad

There’s a lot of misinformation being spread these days.

It’s nothing new. People have been leading others on probably since we invented speech. It’s just that we do it faster, more easily and, sadly, more effectively with all our communications technology.

You see it in the SNC-Lavalin debate, where everybody is presenting their own version of “the truth,” not to inform, but to manipulate people. The Conservatives, for example, would badly like to win the election this fall, and this scandal gives them the perfect tool.

You see it south of the border, where U.S. President Donald Trump has learned that he can say almost anything and his core followers will take it up as a rallying cry.

And once it is started, it’s impossible to root out. You can bet that a decade from now, we will still be hearing about windmill noise causing cancer and the vast conspiracy to cover it up, just like the all too many anti-vaxxers who refuse to accept that reports of problems with vaccines have been thoroughly debunked.

Or climate change deniers trying to explain away the problems we’re seeing with weather patterns and the research of reputable scientists so they can feel good about continuing to degrade the environment.

There lies a problem. Misinformation is almost always, at its source, some form of manipulation, whether it’s for a serious political agenda, making money, laughs, or just someone’s narcissistic desire to stoke their own ego.

As much talk about misinformation that there is, there is also a lot of talk about how to fight it. Probably because there is no effective way.

So much information is now available to us, we have all learned to filter it. Those filter bubbles usually only let through the information we already agree with. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, but it’s no way to develop informed opinions.

Opinions are important. They’re not fact, but they are the basis of our world view. Critical thinking, researching contrasting viewpoints, all play a part in developing that informed opinion.

But you can’t do that inside of a filter bubble, nor can you force someone out of their bubble. It has to come from within.

Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? It’s taken years to build up to this level of polarization, and it’s going to take years to change it.

Our best hope is that younger generations, who have grown up with all this information flowing to them, are naturally developing the skills to differentiate good information from bad.

–Black Press

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