As of January 2021, 86% of Americans got at least some news from digital devices, a higher proportion than television, radio, and print (Shearer, 2021). This statistic is occurring in what some are calling “the age of misinformation”, a period where it is nearly impossible to know what to trust online, and consequently from your friends (Fisher, 2021).
What This Means
More people are going online for news, and more news that is spread online is false. While this is my own personal anecdote that may not align with yours, the reality is that I was not educated to disseminate fact from falsity and I believe I was educated well. For these reasons, I highly doubt many others were either. The result of this is great conflict regarding what is the truth. Resultantly, we need to go beyond literacy and teach people to think critically about the information they receive.
How You Can Exercise Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is concerned with conducting critical analysis to determine what we should believe and do. To think critically about the content you receive online I recommend:
- Breaking down arguments into premises in conclusions (resource).
- Ensuring that if the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true (resource).
- Fact checking to ensure the premises presented are true (resource).
- Considering alternate views on the issue at hand.
- Examining the motives behind the writer and publisher (resource).
While this is simple to say, it is not as easy in practice. I highly recommend checking out the resources linked next to the bullet points, so you can develop an understanding of how to practice what I recommend.
Further, Am I Credible?
Personally, I like to think of myself as credible. I mean, it would be fairly difficult to live my life if I did not have any trust in myself. However, from time to time I make sure to examine my previous activities to confirm that my actions and beliefs stem from truth based analysis. When I write my posts here, I also make sure that the information I use has been taken from credible sources.
However, the reality is, that is up to you, the reader, to decide. I challenge you to do so and would be greatly curious to see what you come back with.
Shearer, S. (2021). More than eight-in-ten Americans get news from digital devices. Pew Research Center. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/01/12/more-than-eight-in-ten-americans-get-news-from-digital-devices/
Fisher, M. (2021). ‘Belonging is stronger than facts’: the age of misinformation. New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/world/asia/misinformation-disinformation-fake-news.html