By Craig Funton
In our quest to get the “straight goods” when it comes to news, I suggested last week that a good place to start is through thinking critically. Here’s another one:
Dependable sources. There are news and information outlets, then there are news and information outlets. Facebook may or may not have its place (passing along announcements, for one, I suppose). But one should never turn to it for authentic news,. What little I know of Facebook, It is not as a reliable source of news.
Ditto for Wikipedia: It purports to be a source of information, which, in turn, could be the basis for news. But when your foundation (information) is cracked, your structure (news) is faulty. And while we’re sat it, there are other sources (both from the far Right and the far Left) that we should avoid at all costs.
Some of Wikipedia definitions I find intriguing, even though I may not agree with them and often find them loopy and unreliable. As intriguing and amusing as they are, I would never consider them dependable sources.
Personally, I use newspaper, radio, and the Internet as my mediums of choice. I use these because that’s how I’m wired, Maurice. Even then, I use only select newspaper, radio, and Internet sources. You may use other good sources: blogs, the local coffee shop, or TV. That’s fine, so long as they are trustworthy.
The key is to use various sources. Maybe something from the Continent, something from North America; maybe draw from a reliable network, as well as from an independent one.
As committed as I am to the conservative side of life (and that includes my news sources), I like to have an expanded source base for information. And with my Christian outlook, I am also committed to truth in everything, including the news.
So much today is presented as fact when it is rumour or maybe even half fact. We need to be diligent in our search for the facts and present them as such. Opinion masquerading as fact is bad enough; but when said opinion is based on half-facts and unbridled bias, that’s reprehensible.
With a different application, it has been said that there is only one thing worse than finding a worm in your apple, and that’s half a worm. Application: There is only one thing worse than finding that the news you listen to is completely fake, finding only part of it is. The question begs: Which part is fake, which is not?
So, if I am, in fact, thinking critically, where do I turn to apply my new-found skills? For myself, I have my particular sources from which I pull in all my information. And, to be honest, they tend to be conservative, right-leaning. And within that context, I draw from a nice mix of irreligious and religious, of Canadian, American, and global sources, of individuals and agencies.
I even digest what I can, when I can, from the Left. To carry the metaphor further, even though I can hardly stomach it, I will chew on their perspective. While I will rarely ever agree with the Left, I find it sharpens my thinking process to see their perspective.
I operate on the premise that there is absolute truth, and I measure my sources against that (not the other way around). When I see a variance (different from “variation”), a red flag goes up.
One of life’s ironies is that we have never had the news and information opportunities than we have today. We need to be more discerning than ever with what we hear and see. This starts with the news and information diet we’re fed on a daily basis. It also include the curriculum in our public schools.
I humbly suggest that you apply these two underlying principles (critical thinking and dependable sources) to your news quest—even to my column. The question is not, Is it popular? The question is, Is it true?