I am not a journalist. I am not a reporter. I don’t work in the news industry. Now that I have set the table I am a person who can look past a thirty second sound byte, check a few facts from different sources and make an informed opinion. I am not constrained by the rules and regulations that the mainstream media (MSM) purports to adhere to. I use the term purport because if you compare the ethical parameters used by different news agencies you will notice some extreme differences.
I think it is the marketing gene in me so I make a habit of checking a news story from the perspective of at least three MSM sources and often as many as six including international. It is interesting to see how the biases come through when a group of people are using the same information. However it can be understood when you look at how journalist who were once respected bend to ethical standards in order to make the news rather than report it. I believe a prime example of this was when Mike Duffy criticized journalism schools, in particular the University of Kings College, for teaching Noam Chomsky and encouraging critical thinking. God forbid people should use critical thinking. Why bother with critical thinking when blind adherence to an ideology is so much easier!
One of the main problems with the use of critical thinking is that it can alienate one from people. Our society has taken a direction where facts and truth are inconveniences. They upset people. They make people look beyond their backyard forcing them to recognize issues that upset them. People who adopt critical thinking as a lifestyle rather than just a tool to use at work often find themselves quickly losing friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances I can understand, it’s the loss of friends that can become disheartening but that is when critical thinking has to kick in.
If you are losing friends because of your search for truth then the friendship was really shallow to begin with. Being informed and being popular do not necessarily mix. They should but it has been my experience that it results the same way when mixing oil and vinegar. Initially the mixture goes fine but after a few minutes they separate and you are back to the oil floating on top of the vinegar.
One of the necessities to using critical thinking effectively is the need to have enough information to use the skill properly. It is easy to say the oil will float on the vinegar but it takes more knowledge to understand why that happens. If you do not know that the oil is denser than vinegar you have no idea why this happens. Operating on limited information is one of the reasons an ideology can be so effective. Keeping the masses dumbed down is an effective way to suppress freedom of expression. Freedom of expression without facts is nothing more the ideological rhetoric. People don’t even question it because it means fact checking.
Then there is another layer of information. Knowing that the oil is denser than vinegar does not necessarily give you all of the answers. Discovering that the density affects the weight of the oil or vinegar goes a long way in understanding why the oil floats on top of the water. People are much more comfortable just accepting something because they recall hearing that somewhere. They don’t really want to take the time to find the details to substantiate the message. Oil floats, it’s a given but when asked why most people can only supply limited reason as to why. They have given up on critical thinking and that mind set is a contributor to the abandonment of freedom of expression.
Having grown up with a physical disability I spend the first sixteen years of my life dependent, not on my parents ideology, but on the ideology of society. That is what happens when you grow up in an institution like a children’s hospital. To enter the real world and break away from that dependence requires a bit of a creative rebel.
When you live in a world that wasn’t designed for people outside the norm you either become innovative or dependent. Being dependent is easy but not always fulfilling. Being independent requires innovative and solutions base problem solving abilities. The essence of innovation is critical thinking. It has become second nature to me. I have no problems expressing my beliefs even when it does alienates me. I had a choice, I could chose to alienate myself because society said I was disabled or I can alienate myself by challenging peoples belief. Deciding to be truly independent means challenging other peoples belief. When you challenge peoples belief you are not always be popular but you will be well informed.
So as I began by saying, I am not a journalist or a reporter. However I am a person who believes strongly in freedom of expression. I believe any true democracy is dependent on freedom of expression (in conjunction with a number of other freedoms). Critical thinking is a major contributor in differentiating between expression and rhetoric. It’s the difference between thinking for ourselves or riding on the band wagon of the ideology of others.
Just one man’s opinion!