In the age of an ever-expanding Internet, much of the information we could ever desire lies at our fingertips. This includes published research from the scientific community, peer reviewed articles on just about any broad topic you could desire to learn about and even what is happening on the other side of the world. With all of this information available to the vast majority of the country, it is still baffling that many people in positions of power refuse to acknowledge facts.
Fake news has become a problem, but it is not what the president is making it out to be. Fake news are those articles you see shared on Facebook or other social media websites that state something outlandish and unbelievable, such as conspiracy theories backed with no evidence. These articles do not come from credible news outlets but websites you’ve probably never heard of and are not credible. Unfortunately, it is not always that obvious. Some websites have gained popularity and are known as a news source, even though they push false information, such as InfoWars.
Some people like to address fake news as news sources that criticize an idea that they do not like. When CNN is reporting on how Trump has failed to pass a bill or talking about women accusing him of sexual harassment, it is not fake news just because they are criticizing the president. CNN is not a fake news source just because they do not like the president. If CNN started publishing news stories of events that did not happen or fabricating interviews, then it would be a fake news source.
Many professional journalists are biased because it is too difficult not to be. However, bias does not deem their work fake. Many articles will use loaded words or phrases to convey their bias, but will not deviate from the truth. When CNN or MSNBC point out how distasteful a Trump tweet is or explains why a new policy in the United States could have a negative effect, they are just expressing their opinions in an article. It is not fake news.
Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election has been going on for over a year now. Thirteen Russian officials were indicted recently on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States, meaning interfere in the election. Robert Mueller has also recently interviewed some individuals close to the Trump campaign such as Manafort and Gates, who were recently indicted, Bannon and a few others. Still, some people including the president want to call Mueller’s investigation fake news or a witch hunt.
Many people want to ignore the scientific community’s research as well. According to NASA, 97 percent of the professional scientific community agrees that climate change is affected by human activity, which needs to be addressed. Yet, in the United States we have people, including politicians, who call climate change a Chinese hoax or fake. According to the ACLU, the scientific community universally decries creationism and intelligent design, yet many people treat the idea of evolution like it started the fire that killed Bambi’s mother. I don’t expect most people to understand scientific inquiry if they have never been exposed to it, but I do expect people to be able to think independently and conduct their own research.
I definitely expect politicians to put the word of the scientific community before the word of their energy industry donors who have financial incentives to ignore facts. When the scientific community almost universally agrees on an observation that is backed with years of research and evidence, it is not fake news or some conspiracy against a certain group of people.
It is important to think independently and research the facts for yourself. Make sure the information you are researching is from a credible source. Websites like Facebook, Billboard Gospels and Infowars are not credible sources. The person with a doctorate in Truthology from Christian Tech is not a scientist or a credible source when spreading information that goes against the general consensus of the scientific community.
You are going to have to be smart enough to distinguish between unreliable and reliable sources. If you research certain topics from biased sources, you are going to find biased research with an agenda. By looking at information from sources that do not have a biased political agenda, you will have your political views shaped, and you might even change how you want to approach problems that we face.