Deliberate and accidental misinformation in media outlets has always been problematic. Media has the power to influence minds, ideas, behaviors, and attitudes of the masses. The ones who control (the spread of) information, controls society.
However, due to globalism and recent worldwide events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, conspiracy theories left and right, and the large-scale Black Lives Matter demonstrations in countries outside of the USA, the amount of discussions embedded with false information and fake news is rampant, especially on social media. What the heck can you as a “normal individual” do when you see inaccurate information (consciously and unconsciously) on a daily basis? Here are some tips from your Housewife.
Always check the facts, even with “innocent” looking posts. For example: it’s really cute to see “dolphins in the canals of Venice”, because there was no traffic due to corona and the water was clear: but is this really true?! Check and double check (the dolphins were near the Italian port of Cagliari and have been seen around Sardinia before). Don’t (re)spread information, just because you like the message and the image shown with it.
Opinionated versus Informed
So how can you respond to misinformation and misleading arguments?
The most obvious one is of course to present clear facts & figures and check your source. Is it a credible one? When you see something, say something, but again double / triple check before you do.
Next, identify the fallacies in someone’s argument. A fallacy occurs when a logical argument contains a specific defect. If you learn how to distinguish fallacies, you’ll be able to “counter act” false information or weak statements much better. Check out the recourses on the internet. It’s actually quite fun to learn about the common ways people falsely present their arguments. Especially when you see racist remarks or slogans like “All Lives Matter”. Why is that even stated? When someone fights against cancer through a charity cause, people don’t say “All Diseases Matter”?
A good example of an exaggeration to reveal reoccurring and flawed misconceptions:
Why are people scared of the riots and looting?
The flu kills way more people every year.
— Tall Paul (@TallPaul612) June 3, 2020
Don’t assume when thinking about Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Democrats and Republicans, left and right wing, that every group has one voice. This is untrue, many of these groups have different opinions, conflicting agendas and approaches amongst themselves.
Another key-factor is to “follow the money”. How are certain groups funded and by whom? So you don’t get a rose colored view of who you’re supporting. Things are sadly not as simple or clean-cut in our day and age.
Last not least, choose your battles wisely (not everybody is worth your attention or argumentation) and take regular breaks from social media. Take care of yourself and your mental health.
It’s a privilege to learn about
racism instead of experiencing
it your whole life.
— Ahmed Ali (@MrAhmednurAli) June 3, 2020
Civil rights activist Malcolm X poses behind a sheaf of newspapers all carrying stories about him. – Three Lions, Hulton Archive (Getty Images)
Your Logical Fallacyis