Definitions for this article:
- Misinformation: as used in this article, is information that is for the most part correct. It is the manner in which it is presented (spun/spin) that is misleading and therefore makes it “misinformation”.
- Disinformation: information that is 90% fiction (not true) and 10% or less true/factual.
- Discernment: 1) The ability to judge well, 2) the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure: skill in discerning.
In these troubling times we can be inundated with enormous amounts of information, from radio (AM/FM/SW), TV (Network and Cable), newspapers, the Internet (news-sites and blogs), talk-radio, journals, books, magazines, and anything else one may encounter in their day-to-day activities. It can be very difficult to filter it all out and discern the fictional information (false or misleading) from the non-fictional (true) information.
Discerning What To Listen To And Read
Over the years many have become jaded to mainstream newspapers, magazines, and television/radio news. There are many good reasons for not believing what you see and hear from these sources, and yet is the information they present really unbelievable? Is it all lies?
Talk radio is also a source that many have become jaded to, for the same reasons that they have become jaded to newspapers, television, and radio news.
So, how does one try to determine what is a good source of information? What is misinformation? What is disinformation?
Well, there is no easy way. The only way is to discern what you have seen and heard and then try to confirm the information from at least one independent source if not two or three different independent sources.
The main stream media (MSM) is more misinformation than it is lies. The events they are reporting on have actually happened or are happening, and it is the bias they add to the event that makes it misinformation.
When the Orlando shootings happened recently a good portion of the main stream media was focused on assault weapons and automatic weapons, not on who was doing the shooting and why. They down-played the radical Islamic aspect and played-up the gun control aspect. Most of the MSM were not willing to state that the Orlando shooting was a terrorist event. Even the President was not willing to make that statement, although his CIA Director did state that it was a terrorist act.
Many times what you find on certain websites is worse than misinformation; it is disinformation. What you find is an event that is happening or has happened but only 10% or less of what they are telling you is true, making it disinformation. Sometimes it is complete fabrication. Recently, in New Mexico, there was a story making the rounds on the Internet concerning an “Islamic refugee being apprehended in Luna County (on the border with Mexico) in possession of plans to a gas pipeline”. The only problem was that there was no truth to it at all. The Luna County Sheriff’s department stated that no such event had occurred, nor were they aware of anything of that nature happening in any of the surrounding counties. One deputy stated, “Before putting out such an article that could put people in such an uproar, maybe they should confirm their stories.” I was able to confirm that nothing of this nature had taken place through other independent sources, including both law enforcement and media here in New Mexico and Texas.
What a concept! Confirming, verifying such information before pulling the “Chicken Little” routine and running around yelling the sky is falling! There is too much of the “Chicken Little” routine happening these days from all sources of information that it seems that all sources of information have fallen into the realm of tabloid sensationalism.
The Internet, in some capacities, is much like the old grocery store bulletin boards, where anyone could post anything they wanted to regardless of what it was, or whether it was anything even of a legitimate nature. For anyone to be able to post anything they want and for there to be little or no ethics or morals being used in what is being posted makes it very difficult to discern just what is really going on. In some cases, it is tabloid sensationalism that seems to be prevailing, alarming people unnecessarily, and misleading them into believing something that is not true.
One of the things you have to do, and most people do not have the time or the motivation, is to spend at least a couple of hours or more a day searching the Internet for news on any particular events you are interested in. Is it time consuming? Yes, it is, but I do not know any other way to find out what is really going on. It used to be that you could go to newsstands and libraries to find newspapers from all over the country, and in some cases from all over the world. You could purchase those papers or sit and read them to get a good idea of what was going on locally, national, and internationally. These days too many rely on a few sources on the Internet that basically just regurgitate each other, which too many think is enough to verify and confirm to them that it is true. Some of these are MSM, and some are alternative sites and/or conspiracy theory sites.
One of the ways to tell whether you are being lied to or not is to look at what your source is telling you, and then look at what, if anything, has happened. If none of those things your source has told you was going to happen has happened, then you are being lied to on a major scale. The “Chicken Little” scenario is sometimes all too evident in what we are seeing, hearing, and reading today, regardless of the source it is coming from. There is so much misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies that it does nothing but stir up a lot of fear and anxiety in people causing them to over-react. In some cases, I think that many of these sources that are using the “Chicken Little” tactic want for nothing more to happen than for people to start over-reacting, causing civil unrest and/or giving just cause for a government confiscation of guns and perhaps a suspension of the Constitution. So, beware of any such sources and double and triple check the information from independent sources to see if there is any real truth to what you have seen, heard, or read.
It is especially important these days to be as discerning as you can possibly be and to not over-react! Over-reacting just gives credence to what the left has been trying for decades to push, that only right wing fanatics want to own guns, while the sane people are fine with only law enforcement and the military having guns. The left is not only trying to get law abiding gun owners to over-react, now they are trying to get law enforcement to over-react with constantly accusing them of outright murder in many cases where it was self defense. Are there bad cops? Yes, but not every one of them is bad.
What Is An Independent Source?
That’s a good question! It may be easier to state what an independent source is not than to state what an independent source would be. If you saw something in the NY Times, then chances would be using the Washington Post or the Chicago Tribune would not be independent enough sources to truly confirm the information as being true. In that same regard, neither would CNN, MSNBC or perhaps even FOX News. The same would be true if you hear something on Rush Limbaugh, using Bill O’Reilly or Laura Ingram would not be good sources to confirm what you heard from Rush. Internet sites have the same problem(s), because some are run by the same people/organizations and are reporting the same stories with little or no differences. The Internet has a vast array of different sources available– local, national, and international sources– that can be used to search for information and verify what you are seeing, reading, and hearing. It does not take that long, and most search engines will provide you with multiple results very quickly, where you can check to see if the information you have come across can be confirmed.
The first thing to remember is that no source of information that you listen to, watch, or read can ever be considered 100% accurate or unbiased, especially unbiased. The event you are seeing, hearing, or reading about may actually be happening; it is the way in which the information on that event is being presented and what biases are affecting how that information is being presented that you must consider.
Many would agree that the main stream media is not a good source of information, when in fact, the MSM does accurately report on events (what is happening or has happened, for the most part); it is the biases that are presented, which are not reliable or accurate. The events have happened, but the way in which it is presented may definitely be slanted to whatever agenda the MSM is working with at the particular time.
The same is true for many web sites and blogs. Some web sites, which will go unidentified in this article, are just as bad a source of information as anything the MSM can come up with, and they are so sensationalized that even standard supermarket tabloids seem good sources of information in comparison. In other words, Caveat Emptor– let the buyer beware. Just like anything else you purchase, buying into what you see, hear, or read requires your own discernment as to whether it is a valid or quality product. Not doing so tends to lead to unfortunate consequences.
Just because some thing is on the Internet, on TV, or on the radio, in the newspapers, or in a book does not mean that it is true. It just means someone was able to get it online, on TV, on the radio, in a newspaper, or in a book. Even worse, in many cases, it is just someone’s opinion, and as we used to say in the Army, opinions are like a-holes– everyone has one.