Saturday, November 06, 2010
Bonfire by the talented Lisa Congdon (I figured you at least needed pretty things to look at if you were going to listen to my rant.)
Within the first hour of every trip home, my mom will most assuredly look me in the eye and declare political conversations off limits. She really should know better by now, and it's generally a debate I look forward to. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it here before, but despite my grandfather's best efforts* to ensure I was raised a dedicated Republican campaigner, he ended up passing on all his enthusiasm to a radical progressive. Oops.
This in no way deters him from still trying. Yesterday he popped his head in while I was working to let me know about Obama's trip to India, wondering if I knew about the number of planes he was taking and the fact that it was costing us $200 million a day. Despite my prodding him that that sounded a bit ridiculous, he stuck to his guns that he heard it on the news.
Three Sheep by Lisa Congdon
Where is everyone's skepticism? Why the immediate need to believe everything you're fed by the news media? I hopped on Google and began to do some pretty simple digging. Within 5 minutes I had ascertained that the reports were made by an anonymous source at an Indian paper. Really? U.S. outlets are just going to blindly accept that and run with it? Of course they are...at least long enough for it gain traction. It seeps through media outlets and is picked up by conservatives doing some last minute stumping. It gets repeated over and over and those listening accept hearsay as fact.
Over dinner tonight I happened to mention what I found out to my grandfather. He, of course, seemed skeptical. As we ate, I overheard bits and pieces of the conversation of the table next to us (yes, I'm that girl). More proliferation of the Obama story and some conservative railing against liberals. Information and opinions passed along as fact without any sort of legitimate backing whatsoever. I'm pretty sure my mom thought I was going to blow a gasket as I glanced at her. She, too, had heard.
Putting political differences aside, what blows my mind is the seemingly blind acceptance of the information people are presented with. Where are the seekers? If I were to hear on the news that Republicans were trying to repeal women's voting rights, I wouldn't just accept and repeat. I would research, dig, verify through multiple sources of differing credibility. After three years on the college debate team, I learned very quickly that you can find "evidence" and "facts" to support whatever position you want to take. The world is going to end in 3 days? Done. A nuclear power plant in Utah will set off a chain reaction that will speed up global warming? Done.
I guess I would just sleep better at night if people would take at least five minutes to do a little of their own digging because, if they did, I doubt** this particular story would have spread as quickly as it did. Later tonight, my grandpa popped his head in again to tell me that the news (Bill O'Reilly) was now saying those figures were likely exaggerated and incorrect. Duh. ;-)
*I remember being in junior high and brought along to work the elections with my grandpa.
**Who am I kidding? Of course, it would have spread because it served the political will of certain folks.