Expectations of individuals to do their own research

Discussion in 'Politics and Society' started by StevePame, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    In a discussion about providing or limiting a spectrum of thoughts on topics, in this thread, @RJM Corbet posted:

    The drift is that most people, and in this case most university students, are mostly easilytaken in by Facebook type instant, shallow and fake information?

    And therefore the information they are allowed to access should effectively be censored and filtered by a superior body? Like a monastery? I find this distressing in the case of universitystudents, who are supposed to be open to consider all sorts ideas and encouraged to their own reasearch and fact checking?

    ————

    I think that discussion is worth a thread of its own. I cannot speak for college students, but as someone who sees hundreds of high schoolers who leave for college each year, I feel students are too easily taken in by false comments and ready to just believe what is in front of them. The thought of researching and fact checking is not on many of their radars. That’s why so many of my fellow educators have assignments that ask them to do so. And they struggle. Some to a level that hurts my head and heart.

    So my question, at a larger level, is whether people in society should be expected to do their own fact checking and/or at what point should it no longer be expected that someone vettes the information?
     
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  2. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I think it is very necessary, Steve.

    I was recently in a WhatsApp discussion about the true fact that Obama left the presidency much richer than when he started. The obvious implication is that Obama was corrupt at tax-payer expense and many people believe that.

    However a quick bit of googling bought up a Forbes article analysing how Obama made the money from writing books. Not a problem. But the person I was discussing with didn't want to read the article, accusing 'the press' of fake news. Sad and dangerous.

    The internet responsible for ignorant memes and posts so much nonsense false information, also provides the remedy; a quick Google enquiry instantly brings up a few articles on the subject, along with snopes and wiki and other fact checkers.

    So perhaps at this time more than any other it is important to encourage young people to research and fact check?

    The internet makes it easy to do. A person doesn't have to spend the afternoon in the library wading through books and papers. But I suppose it's human nature to believe what we want to believe.

    Regarding university no-platforming and safe-space cocooning etc, Richard Dawkins says: "If students don't know what university is for, they should make way for those who do."
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  3. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree. To me this is very important.


    Agree, again. How would you propose getting them to do so? And is it just young people? What about adults who may hold onto an old belief where new information suggests something else?

    I’m struggling with this thought not only for my students, but for myself and other adults. I’m not a medical expert or a scientist. Yet, I’ll see a claim on a news site and go to the report to read about the study. However, in the example of Covid, there are contradictory research findings. So I’ll dig through multiple reports. They take me a long time to read because I end up Googling other stuff I don’t understand. It is a process. Yet, I enjoy learning, so it is ok.

    But is there a cut off point? I recognize most/all people don’t have time to just keep reading and researching, myself included. What do people think is an acceptable level of fact checking before you can say, “I got it” and move on?

    An example from last night was reading up on Indian street violence. I’m an American. I did a Google search and found newspaper articles. But after I read those, I went and read up on the political stance of those papers and then had to find their ideological competitors to read their takes on street violence. In the US I generally know the political leaning of a media source. But in a global age, it is seemingly impossible to know such things across countries where news accounts emerge without lots of effort.

    Perhaps this is more a rant than I’d like but I feel this topic of fact checking and researching is a hinge upon which so much good and bad in the world hinges because people act on what they believe and “know.”
     
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  4. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Ok but in a fluid situation like corona or cosmology there is a moving flux of information and really we can only do our best to try keep up, and try to use reliable sources.

    The difference is where something is presented as a fact, which is untrue -- a lie or a half-truth, whether deliberate or not?

    This is a major feature of Internet platforms and especially social media. We need to learn to develop an internet 'bullshit radar' because it is not at all difficult to do a bit of quick checking and googling around?

    The eventual point is that when proved wrong there is no ego shame in admitting the fact. We are always learning and growing.

    Perhaps we don't need to get too deep into what degree of research is needed to be reasonably satisfied -- and more towards developing the instinct about what might require a bit more checking before posting it on?

    Why? Because internet lies cause real damage.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  5. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    No of course it does not apply only to young people in educational institutions. It applies to everyone who uses internet information.
     
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  6. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes, this helps pull me out of my rabbit hole. Thank you.
     
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  7. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Oh no, it's just my irritation with fake news. I was trained as a journalist -- long ago -- and the ethics have stuck. As soon as I see an article or interview that presents only one side of the issue: like a doctor or professor trying to boggle my mind with medical jargon, I immediately ask myself where is the other doctor ot professor -- the one who disagrees?

    Why is the interviewer not willing to consult experts on both sides of the debate, in an effort to give me a representative balance of facts/opinions from which to form my own opinion?

    That sort of presentation is not journalism, it is propaganda. Internet makes every blogger and influencer into a 'journalist' these days. There is no need to check facts and no fear of libel action. Never mind integrity.

    It is also disappointing to me how the proper accredited press has become so partisan, Steve. But I actually quite enjoy shredding internet fake news. Even when you show a person the true facts, often they're not really interested. We like to think what we like to think.

    Perhaps it's fear of the domino effect: if I have to admit that Obama made his money from writing, not from corruption, that is going to bring down all the other dominos? I don't know.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    While far from perfect, over here in Germany we have publicly-funded news media, and a general trust in the population that they are less biased by ad revenue or private owners' agendas and more willing to do fact checking than private outlets.

    Lots of problems with that as well, but at least there is a baseline against which all other news can be measured.
     
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  9. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    And we have the BBC which is pretty much respected world wide.
     
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  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    From other thread:
    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19440/page-5

    @A Cup Of Tea
    I really hope I have not offended you. I understand the concern of the videos with the rise of the right, and authoritarian leaders. This is a concern of many.

    I am trying to engage in understanding from a university man the limits and purposes of 'no-platforming' speakers at university.

    Please do not be offended.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  11. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  12. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    You have in no way offended me!
    But trying to understand the other party is sometimes a tricky thing and I'm both surprised by the few words you had to say on the issue of fascism and your questions on non-platforming. I'm taking my time with it as to know how to best engage the topic. I did try to express my thoughts on it with my remarks on seeing things as more grey than you seem to see it, but that don't seem to have done anything for you. I can't promise I'll have something to further this conversation, but if I find something I'll be sure to share it.
     
  13. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Ok, did a quick read-though again and what you express repeatedly is: sorting between truth and untruth is easy.
    This might be a good starting ground for further discussion because I'm going to take the position of: hard no.
    Some further points that might be of use. We can go further in any direction you feel relevant...or irrelevant.
    1. You're a trained and experienced journalists. The general public is not.
    2. The complexity of a scientific topic may make things near impossible for an individual outside of the field to evaluate.
    3. The pure propaganda of interest groups may take even someone as discerning as you by surprise.
     
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  14. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I object to fascism. It is a concept originated by Mussolini trying to create a new Rome and the 'faces' were the bundles of sticks bound around an axe carried by the Lictors signifying the authority of the old Roman Consuls. It has become something else since WW2.

    That's not my problem. My problem is when the terms Facism and Nazism are lightly used -- against You Tube, for instance. And my enquiry is still around how university colleges decide what 'thought values' their students are allowed to to be exposed to against those from which they need to be protected.

    Who decides?

    EDIT
    Your post above landed just before this one of mine. I will read it now
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  15. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    No. That is why people must be allowed to hear both sides of an argument. The jury hears all the evidence and reaches a reasonable decision. So who has the authority to decide between which opinions college students may be exposed to and those from which they need to be 'protected'?

    EDIT
    I have started a new thread about it here:
    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19448/
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  16. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    This discussion reminds me of something (I'm paraphrasing my late father here): My mind's made up, now don't confuse me with the facts.

    It isn't limited to high school/college students, either. Heck, the only subject that truly doesn't require effort to figure out the correct answer (because there's only one correct answer for each individual question [until you get to the much higher subjects in this classification] and that's math sciences!) Figures don't lie but liars can figure, and it takes effort to find the inconsistencies that may be hidden from view from both sides of a non-mathematical question.

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
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  17. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Spot on, lol
     
  18. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I feel there is an unfairness in how the question is framed. I don't think of it as whether we should protect people or not, but if and how things are promoted. As I've pointed to before, there are far more to it than just letting someone have the stage for 15min or not. Just such a small thing as how a speaker is presented can make a huge difference to the recipients, are they welcomed to the stage as an expert in the field or as a private individual.
     
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  19. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    :) I am surprised by the statement. I consider foreign media as the most unreliable (BBC tops, NYT, Guardian, etc.), except for Reuters and Google, with which I can check a number of reports and make my own conclusion about things.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  20. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    But this seems completely self-evident? Surely there is an introduction of the speaker to the audience, explaining who the speaker is?

    I don't think university students need to be overly protected from difficult views and opinions. Again I return to situation in most universities where the pro-Palestine speaker is allowed a platform while the pro-Israel speaker is denied. This is just one example of universities censoring what their students may hear?

    I'm trying to learn the basis used to decide what opinions students are permitted to hear?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020

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