As I read Facebook and Twitter I am amazed at what people post as fact, what they share. I read some of it and my basic instincts tell me that cannot be true or at a minimum check the sources.
Some posts are so blatantly absurd it’s scary to think anyone gives them credibility. For example, conspiracy theorists posted claims that 5g networks were linked to the spread of the corona virus in England with the result of several cell towers being burned.
I read headlines, sometimes from national outlets, and then read the story and find it does not say what the headline did. Unfortunately, some people just rely on headlines because that’s what shows up on Twitter and Facebook.
Make no mistake, all this manipulation occurs across the political spectrum, but appears especially prevalent at the left and right extremes. Have you ever noticed on a given day how a key phrase pops up repeatedly on talk shows? If Limbaugh says it so will Hannity, Howie Carr and Fox. If ABC says it so will CNN and MSNBC. Coincidence?
Then I think how passionate some people are about their views and positions on important issues. Where do they get those strong opinions? Often it’s the press in one way or another. Far less it’s from scrutinizing basic research or evaluating various sources. Or, equally important, from asking questions.
Regardless of what you may think of him, Trump is the political target of every Democrat and they are using the pandemic against him, quite effectively with targeted groups of likely Democratic voters.
No matter what he did or didn’t do or should have done earlier this year, or what he did with the WHO, in much of the press, it’s wrong. When you GOOGLE the topic to find more info, nearly all the references are to the New York Times and a few other similar leaning sources. The NYTs says the WHO is Trumps scapegoat. The Wall Street Journal says, “WHO leadership let political considerations color what should have been unbiased public-health advice. The decisions to oppose early travel bans and to delay declaring a “public-health emergency of in-ternational concern” were particularly deadly.”
Is it possible to find objective information?
What are the assumptions used to come to reach widespread conclusions? Sometimes the very assumptions are biased or slanted to promote a cause. You can reach widely different results merely by tweaking an assumption. Try it yourself. If you have a retirement savings goal in mind, change the assumed investment return by a percent or two and see what happens.
Social Security, Obamacare, CEO pay, insurance company profits, pay disparity between men and women are all hot topics for misleading and incomplete information. Information that many people simply accept as fact.
When talking about Social Security substitute “surplus” for “reserve” regarding the trust and you get a totally different perspective. Much maligned CEO pay usually fails to note the data relate to only some of the S&P 500 companies employing a relatively small number of US workers. And “pay” is not pay but total compensation, much at risk. But the average American won’t make that distinction.
Health insurance company profits have a very minor affect on premiums and are in line with regulated utilities at about 5-7%, but you won’t see that in the headlines or that increasing profits are the result of insured volume. Few of us will do the math and see the net impact on each insurance contract. Anti-Obamacare views are rarely based on fact. As a matter of fact, I will wager those who dislike Obamacare cannot accurately articulate why.
If you look closely at many articles and news reports you will see the skillful use of key words, of an unnecessary adjective that reinforces a point of view or triggers a bias.
Is the press objective? Are reporters unbiased with no agenda of their own? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but it’s not that way today. Some Americans will readily dismiss a story in the Wall Street Journal while easily accepting one in the New York Times on the same subject and vice versa.
The fact is we are being manipulated and skillfully so. If something is repeated often enough it must be true, right?
Don’t we owe it to ourselves to fight this manipulation with facts, to ask questions and to stop sharing outrageous claims and stories, to consider different points of view?