All Articles All Articles

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path. Banner

How Can I Figure Out What’s True?

How Can I Figure Out What’s True?

By Dennis Loo (4/17/14)

[T]he battle over truth and over perception—what is true and what needs to be taken into account given its objective reality—are central to any attempts at social change. – Globalization and the Demolition of Society, p. 354

I get a lot of insight into what kind of questions are on people’s minds through my teaching. My students’ questions, especially when they are encouraged to express them, are an excellent guide to what is useful for me to write and speak about. This week a major question that we discussed was how someone can figure out what's true, given all of the competing claims in media and on the web. Not only is this important for individuals but it is even more important for the society since the vast majority of people would not know how to begin to determine the truth. Most people don't even currently know that they are being constantly lied to by their government and that the mass media are concealing and distorting the truth so they don't know that they need to dig deeper. To a) even know that you need to be skeptical and then b) to know how to weigh competing claims requires rigorous training. Many of those who graduate from college and even post-graduate education know 'a' but how many of them can handle 'b'?

In my senior seminar, students are learning about how distorted the news media’s coverage is. Only six major corporations now control 90% of what we see, read, and hear. Go back a couple of decades and the number of major media owners was in the scores. Many did not know before learning about this just how concentrated the ownership pattern is and how the profit motive impacts what we are told, how these issues are framed, and what we are not told.

They are also going to be learning much more about how ideological and political matters intersect with the profit motive: how it is not simply the pursuit of more revenue that is in play here but also the preservation of and justification for the capitalist-imperialist system. Making money, in other words, is not the sole goal because if it were, many TV shows and personalities such as Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann would still be on the air since they drew huge audiences when their shows were cancelled.

Donahue’s show on MSNBC, for example, was that network’s most popular show when MSNBC executives cancelled it on the grounds that they did not like the fact that Donahue was anti-Iraq war at a time when all the major TV networks were waving the American flag cheering on the invasion. They claimed that the reason was disappointing ratings, but this was a lie and a ruse.

Had the network been solely interested in Nielsen ratings, it would not have cancelled Donahue. Instead, MSNBC executives canned Phil Donahue, citing disappointing rating. But, as Rick Ellis wrote, referring to an internal NBC memo, the main reason was political:

That report—shared with me by an NBC news insider—gives an excruciatingly painful assessment of the channel and its programming. .. . [T]he harshest criticism was leveled at Donahue, whom the authors of the study described as “a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace.” The study went on to claim that Donahue presented a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. . . . He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

When the WMD hoax and other Bush White House lies about Iraq and 9/11 (that the media nearly unanimously passed on uncritically) became known to everyone, MSNBC could have proudly pointed to Donahue as evidence of their network’s uniqueness and courageous pursuit of the truth. MSNBC chose not to take this chance because their executives were more afraid of being seen as insufficiently red, white, and blue than they were eager to be honored for doing accurate reportage—in other words, doing the jobs most people think journalists are supposed to do.

Donahue, interviewed in October 2003, after being fired, told Fox’s

Sean Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (co-host). What happened at MSNBC ?

DONAHUE . Well, we were the only antiwar voice that had a show, and that, I think, made them very nervous. I mean, from the top down, they were just terrified. We had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I was counted as two liberals.

Politics and ideology, in other words, frame and affect corporate decisions.

They make up a crucial part of corporations’ bottom lines. Money in the narrow sense is not, in other words, corporations’ only concern. The notion that media are only interested in profits does not take this critical factor into consideration.[1]

In the last few pages of Globalization and the Demolition of Society I briefly and in a concentrated way address the question of this article: How Can I Figure Out What’s True? What follows draws from and expands further upon those pages.

Objective truth and perception are related; if you are not aware of what is true, then your ability to shape events is profoundly compromised by your ignorance of the truth. Truth is not, however, something that is unchanging in nature. The leaders of the US Empire like to believe, for example, that their high tech wizardry makes them invincible, that their military might means that they are unbeatable. In a direct confrontation between military forces it is true that the US would win. But that is not the nature of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Let me illustrate this further: The truth that someone is physically stronger than someone else does not necessarily mean that the weaker person cannot beat the stronger person in a fight. It does mean, however, that the weaker person has to take the fact of the other person’s greater physical strength into account in order to have a chance to win. You cannot just plunge into such a fight heedless of what the conditions are. To have a chance you have to adopt a game plan and choose a battleground that neutralizes or even turns the other person’s greater physical strength into a weakness. This is what martial arts such as Aikido do—use their opponent’s strength against them.

In other words, first of all we need to know what is going on in order to have a chance to affect the course of present and future events. Having access to good information and good analysis is therefore indispensable. Otherwise you are operating blindly or under illusions. If you are preparing a meal to eat, then your ingredients matter a great deal. You cannot make a good dish if your raw materials are poor. Someone can be given the very best ingredients to make a meal in the world, but if they do not know how to cook, then what they make will, in all probability, not be all that good. They could even ruin it entirely. So the ingredients matter, but what you do with those ingredients also matters.

How can we expect people in this country to make good decisions if they are being fed a steady diet of garbage, both by the customary news sources such as mainstream TV news and newspapers, and by trashy entertainment such as reality-TV? Contrary to most people’s perceptions, trashy entertainment isn’t just escapism. These shows bring with them ideological baggage and are subtly training people in that ideology, just as advertising itself contains ideological content and is similarly spreading that ideology in subtle ways. What shows like the Kardashians and other Real Housewives of ______________ are about is bling, more bling, and still more bling. The women and men in these shows are infatuated with commodities and treat each other like commodities, each of them out to stab the other in the back to get what they want. Social Darwinism is alive and well on network TV where it’s all about individual fame and success and the losers go home and have to leave the bright lights. (We are living in times where there is a pornography of the pursuit of material wealth. Indeed, some of those who have succeeded in making themselves the subject of the tabloids and more respectable versions of the tabloids such as People Magazine, have literally put out porn to make a name for themselves such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.)

Politics is not just present on Meet the Press. Politics infuses everything we think, say, and do because politics in the broadest sense of the term involves making decisions about priorities and values and allocating resources. We make political decisions when we decide how to spend our time and how we spend our money. We make a political decision when we leave our car idling while parked, contributing to climate change by such carelessness.

There is no such thing, in other words, as escapist entertainment that is free of politics. Politics understood in this way does not have to be deadly boring, which is the way it is presented to most people. Politics can be exceedingly interesting and it’s certainly extremely important when you understand that politics is not simply hearing the GOP and the Democrats bicker.

Good intentions are not enough to guarantee good results. Where, then, does one go to get good information, and how does one develop reliable analytical skills?

Any account that you read, view, or hear has been framed interpretively.

This is inevitable; choices must be made as to what to highlight and what to leave out. This is as true of news reporting and any nonfiction endeavor as it is of fiction and art. The question then comes down to what facts are relevant and what those facts add up to. It is not possible to provide a cookbook recipe on how to decide what is relevant and what their meaning is in any given process, but it is possible to lay down certain principles.

The first principle is that any social process involves the dynamic interplay between what sociologists call structure and agency. Structure refers to the social context, the rules stated and unstated for the system in question. (The most commonly articulated manifestation of structure in laypersons’ language is the power and reality of institutional or organizational culture.) Agency refers to individuals’ choices within that larger system context. In this process the overall more determining factor is structure because (a) we are social beings not individuals, and (b) social structures’ persistence depends upon social rules being followed and those who ignore or violate those rules being sanctioned. As social beings we rely upon social structures, and we can only continue to exist because we exist within them. Structure and social rules exert a constant and powerful force over us.

We need structure and networks to survive. But those structures can be overall hindrances. The solution to a problematic structure is not lack of structure. The solution is not to call upon people to follow their own paths (telling them to disregard peer pressure and other forms of social suasion) and expect that this is an avenue they will adopt. The solution, instead, is a different structure. News stories or analyses that elevate the individual and individual choices above the actual de facto rules of structures are misrepresenting the actual situation. So that is the first thing to keep in mind when you read or see accounts of social issues. Efforts to change must rest principally upon individual and group efforts to replace the problematic structures with different structures.

Second, public policies, corporate behavior, and any other group behavior are not the product primarily of the values, personalities, or choices of the individuals within them. They are primarily the product of the standards being set by the leading individuals in those groups and organizations and the governing logic and rationale of those organizations and groups. Changing the behavior and nature of public policy, et al requires a structural change, and said structural change must be led by individuals who enlist the support of others to supplant the existing leaders and the existing structures. Change, in other words, requires leadership and groups of people acting in concert with each other and under that leadership.

Third, different classes and different groups have different material interests, and those material interests are reflected in ideologies, values, beliefs, and their pursuit of their group’s interests. Recognizing the parameters of different ideologies and how they serve different classes and groupings within those classes is critical to developing an ability to see beneath the surface to the essence of any social issue and social struggle. Put in more common parlance, there are vested interests, and those interests are expressed or articulated by the leading spokespeople for those groups.

In other words, we are not first and foremost individuals. We are first and foremost members of groups, even though subjectively most of us most of the time think about ourselves first and foremost as individuals. Our individual outlook on the world is mainly shaped by factors outside of our individuality. Our individual outlook matches that of at least many others because our group membership and larger social forces overall govern our identity and attitudes. We are not all identical and there is definitely a spectrum but cohort effects (which generation we come from) outweigh individual differences as a whole. If you were to tell me someone’s income bracket, gender and sexual orientation, age, neighborhood, and racial/ethnic identity, I could tell you with a pretty high probability of success, their political views and various attitudes even though I do not know who that person specifically is. Why? Because we are products of our environment more than we are individuals that are different from that background and those experiences.

The bottom line, the fundamental division in our society, is between, on the one hand, those whose interests rest upon dominance and the drive towards monopolizing the society and planet’s resources and, on the other hand, those whose interests lie in the husbanding of those resources for the good of the whole rather than the part.

Put another way, there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those for whom truth and justice are decided based on whether or not their own personal interests are involved. That is, if something is harming them directly, then they are concerned. If it is not something that is harming them directly but it is adversely affecting others (such as people of other countries), then they do not care about it and will do nothing about it. In one of the extreme versions of this, but not at all uncommon, is for people who are exposed to an inconvenient truth to dismiss it by saying, “it can’t be true.” In another variant of this view, people will sometimes say, “It’s not true for me.” To such people, “if it’s not affecting me, it’s not going on.” Some people, for example, when told that the US is guilty of torturing prisoners and killing innocents are unmoved by this since they believe – because authorities have told them this - that torture and killings are protecting them from harm. This attitude is what earned Germans who cooperated with the Nazis the insult “Good Germans.”

Here is another example of this attitude. This is from a May 8, 2013 article of mine:

In a May 2, 2013 article in The Guardian, you can find this gem:

Philip Zelikow, a member of the White House Intelligence Advisory Board, said the government was relying on two arguments to justify its drone policy under international law: that the US remained in a state of war with al-Qaida and its affiliates, or that those individuals targeted in countries such as Pakistan were planning imminent attacks against US interests.

When asked by the Guardian whether such arguments would apply in reverse in the unlikely event that al-Qaida deployed drone technology against military targets in the US, Zelikow accepted they would.

"Yes. But it would be an act of war, and they would suffer the consequences," he said during the debate at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. "Countries under attack are the ones that get to decide whether they are at war or not," added Zelikow.

From their own mouths then: when the US does it, it’s justified and it’s not an act of war on countries that the US is raining drones down upon such as Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan. If anyone retaliates to those drone attacks (e.g., with suicide bombings), then they are terrorists and deserve what the US does to them. But if anyone were to use drones against the US, that would be an act of war. And they would suffer the consequences: "Countries under attack are the ones that get to decide whether they are at war or not."

Does Mr. Zelikow even realize how hypocritical his reasoning is? I would wager that he doesn't.

The other perspective is that of those who regard justice, fairness, and truth as things that are independent of whether or not they directly affect one’s self. If it’s wrong, whether it is affecting their own person and those who they care most about such as their family, then it’s still wrong. If someone is being treated unjustly, then it’s still unjust, whether or not it’s affecting you directly or even if you are actually being personally advantaged by it. Fair-skinned people, for example, are advantaged by cultural attitudes that favor them but not all fair-skinned people are accepting of racist ideas. Many (though there need to be many more) white people are anti-racists and some of them are staunchly opposed to racism towards minorities, even more vigorous in their opposition to racism than some minorities are.

If you are arguing about an issue – pick one it doesn’t matter what the issue is – with someone of the opposite perspective you cannot reach a resolution to your differences because what you value is so starkly different. The two perspectives see the world in radically different ways. This poses a question given this: what perspective should guide those who are in positions with the most influence and power to determine how media do their jobs in society?

Do you want the people with the most power to decide this to be those who see the world from the perspective of whatever benefits them privately and those they care most about? Or do you want those in charge to be those who see that truth and justice as universal principles?

If the former are the ones in charge, then what media will do is what they are now doing: catering to private interests at the expense of the whole. If the latter group were in charge, then they would make sure that all viewpoints were put before the people because the process of determining what is true and fair is something that cannot be and should not be decided by a small group but should be and can only be decided by opening it up as broadly as possible.

If your view is that the public interest should predominate, then you would also take the position that the public must be included in the discussion and debate over these questions in real, not superficial ways, and that in fact, opposing viewpoints, including from those whose motives are bad, need to be put on the table for all to sort through so that people can learn through the course of that contention and full airing, what is true and what is not.

People cannot come to understand what is true by being told what is true and expected to just accept it. You can only come to understand what is true through a process of being exposed to multiple perspectives and facts and engaging in the process of sorting through them. That is what a truly democratic consultation process would be. That is what a truly useful media and political sphere would look like.

We know that people have different perspectives. The best way to adjudicate those differences is not to choose whose personal views are right and let them decide but to carry out the process on the basis of a commitment to the value of fully airing all perspectives. If you are interested in the truth, then there is no other way for that to be accomplished and if you are interested in the truth then you fear no debates because whatever is wrong, even if you are yourself wrong, stands the best chance of being revealed through full consultation and open debate. If you are interested in the truth you are not afraid of learning that you are wrong on certain matters because then you can correct those errors rather than persisting in them. Only those who have something to hide and who have a secret agenda dodge an open discussion and full debate.

[1] Globalization and the Demolition of Society, pp. 230-231.


0 # MarieB 2014-04-20 06:34
According to the text above, "only six major corporations now control 90%" of the media we see. This number is a good start of an explanation of what we are being told, and is something to consider when we are looking for the truth. Because tv shows are regulated by private ownerships, they permit and censor what they do not want the public to be exposed to. People want to be invested in things, so the media provides us with mindless shows like Housewives or the Kardashians, simply as distractions. This technique reminds me of many of the famous dystopian novels. In brief conclusion to this valuable perspective, the recommended solutions are not easy, of course, but provide insight to be knowledgeable citizens. We all fit into a
"spectrum of cohorts", and our political views can be predicted by the area we fit under. Society as a whole should be treated with our best interest, but not lose our sense of individual lives and differences.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-04-20 19:57
The question that arises from a certain aspect of this is: Why do they preserve capitalism-impe rialism? Are they conscious of the system they are operating under? Are those who operate within the media and other outlets aware of why they are saying what they are saying? When looking closely, a majority, if not all arenas in life, are political, expressing specific value sets. Ideology is expressed even within reality TV shows, an example of a medium used to both bring in revenue on a cheaper budget and express individualism and social Darwinism.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # LA305302 2014-04-20 23:18
Beside the lack of any educational currently going on with the media, or people not knowing the truth, the education system has a lot to do with it too. What is currently implemented is not enough to teach kids about how to become a critical thinker, but rather school has become a place to commodify ones material gains. With this in mind, it is no wonder why media has become so crucial to people. An example of this is looking at shows like cops that give us fake images of what it is to be a criminal. What IT IS, is to be a young minority. People do not question the authenticity in that. Instead, people flip the channel and watch shows that give them a fake sense of what the world is like. We talk about how social darwinism is a thing, but looking at the people in front of our screens makes me think otherwise. Maybe we the viewers are the bigger fool then the dumb armenian woman on tv.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # AJ 2014-04-21 05:59
I fully agree with you on the whole part about how our educational system does little to teach students the importance of being critical thinkers. Yet when there are teachers out there that do there best to teach students to become aware of the real issues or become critical thinkers, they get punish. Given the example of the current situation of my former high school teacher, whom was put in teacher jail for supposedly conspiring with students to make weapons. His story has made it to the media in the past two weeks and in this case, the true story has been revealed. Sometime we forget the media can be bias, however the public can make the difference in letting out the truth. We know the media doesn't always say the truth, but sometime we need to push in order to get the truth out of the media.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-04-21 06:10
I agree with your statement. Teachers are paid by the state, and the state is controlled by the government. So if the state decides to pay the teachers less money than what they are worth, it makes some teachers less enthusiastic towards teaching. Consequently, students respond by paying less attention in school if their teachers have no passion to teach their students. Hence, students may watch TV shows on politics to learn but what they realize is that they do not necessarily gather the most knowledge from TV shows. Many of the TV shows are regulated by the government and the information given may be swayed from the truth. For the truth to be revealed, one must be open to debate.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # tiamari 2014-04-25 00:08
I agree with the statements above how children should be taught how to develop critical thinking skills. By teaching children thinking skills, they will be more likely to reject and question the messages the media projects. One way to do this is by making media literacy a required course.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # marcam 2014-05-02 21:34
I agree with you. I don't think that the problem is in the people alone. I think the educational system is a big problem in why people aren't understanding the truth. The educational system isn’t teaching people critical thinking, instead they are teaching them how to remember something until the test is over and then you can forget all about it. By not teaching people how to critically think about any situation they don’t question what they are being told by the media; making them believe all the wrong information being spread by elites.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-04-21 05:50
I agree that the truth revealed in the media is interpreted in the best interest of the government or public officials. As mentioned in class earlier, people have been watched, starting February 2001 during Bush's administration. This tells me that the structure of our society is socially controlled. And because we are socially controlled, the stories we hear in the news may not always reflect the truth because the stories are influenced by what government allows the public to hear most of the cases.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Viceless 2014-04-21 06:00
I feel that the majority of Americans are very comfortable with the way that the news is portrayed to them. We get conditioned to this type of information because it the way it is presented to us in our school systems. We are so used to this that we believe it as the only way to recieve our news and we don't even question it, especially considering that it takes actual work to unconver the truth which in istelf shows the sad state of affairs in the U.S.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # giovanna sesrrano 2014-04-21 17:59
I can totally agree with you 100% about how us as Americans are extremely comfortable with believing everything that the news tells us. The fact that even if we might doubt what the media tells us, we still someway somehow still continue to believe the lies. In great part is like you said we are accustomed to do what is easier and that is to believe what is being fed to us, because like you said again doing research is much more of a "harder" task than just believing what you hear. Another thing too about believing what you hear is not willingly wanting to accept the American affairs as you stated, facing the truth about what America is and is doing is much more shameful than we would like to face.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-21 21:56
Quoting giovanna sesrrano:
we might doubt what the media tells us, we still someway somehow still continue to believe the lies.
Let me clarify that when I said that there are two kinds of people in the world and the first group is made up of those who think truth is whatever is personally convenient, I am not talking about the majority of people. Those who have doubts about what the media is telling us largely do not fit into this category of those who find it easier to deny what they know to be true. The problem isn't mainly denial overall in the society. The problem is mainly that the people are being lied to and it's not that the people are responsible for those lies. It's the responsibility of those doing the lying. They aren't doing what they're doing because they are trying to protect or somehow fulfill what the people want. Most people don't want to be lied to.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # marcam 2014-05-02 21:40
I agree with your point that many Americans are comfortable with the media they receive. I would imagine if one didn’t like the news they receive they would change it or not watch it at all. I believe that it’s something they are interested in. like hearing and seeing all the crime reports by media. I would imagine if crime doesn’t affect Americans because it is all over the media and they encourage these views; like when a horror movie comes out in theaters there are long lines in the ticket booths. Americans have just become comfortable with what they have and aren’t challenging media to see if its fiction or nonfiction.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-02 22:04
Are you agreeing with Giovanna or with me? People in the mainstream - and most people by definition are in the mainstream - are of course going to accept the status quo. They aren't responsible for the status quo. Most people in any society are going to accept what they are given. That doesn't make them the authors or initiators of the status quo. This is a very big distinction!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Monique V. 2014-04-21 06:19
We spoke in some detail in class and it was mentioned that if an individual did not achieve the highest level of bloomstaxonomy (evaluation) that they would have to accept the views/opinions of others. Reading the above and how you mention that the media is so tightly guarded and controlled by only 6 media outlets made me think that unless we dig deeper and seek the truth then we will have to accept what the media/news outlets are feeding us. It is important to remember that things on television are so easy to manipulate and the general public does not have any idea they are in fact being manipulated.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # luvlife1 2014-04-21 06:33
It is crucial that we understand that we are being controlled and that we take a stand in what we believe, but it is true also that many will not care if it does not affect them directly. With the proper education and the want to make a difference, I believe we can look for the truth and dodge all the media that is being fed to us, rather understand more of what is really going on and not just what they want us to see.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Michaelo 2014-04-22 06:43
Quoting luvlife1:
With the proper education and the want to make a difference, I believe we can look for the truth and dodge all the media that is being fed to us.

In response to Uriel Gonzalez's as well, if state governments set educational standards and they are funded by the federal government, does this mean that the educational system itself is corrupt if the system is trying to replicate and perpetuate itself? Perhaps the majority of us are not supposed to gain the skills necessary to come to truthful conclusions.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-04-21 08:40
Because the 6 major corporations are controlling our media, we never really know if what we are receiving is the truth or not. We don't know to question the truthfulness of something and we don't know where to go to actually find the truth. We are not taught, growing up, to think critically and assess information from all sides and that is where we have our problems in society. People conform because they don't know what to do otherwise. People rather watch the drama shows than know what is really going on in the world. We criticize and make fun of others, while we sit idle and allow for false truths to be presented to us. Are we no better than the media then? Since many media company's don't take action and send us truths from fear, we might as well be like them since we have no courage to stand up (in most cases).
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-21 13:01
Your comment is a kind of mixed bag. On the one hand, it upholds the fact that very few are in positions of great influence. On the other hand, you state that people would rather watch drama than really know what's going on. This mix is what we would call eclectic reasoning. While it is true that some people would rather be stupid, most people are not that way and most people are not aware that they are being misled. This is not primarily their fault and what is in the media is not primarily what the public wants. They largely don't know better and it's up to those who can see the deception to help others become aware.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # jnc 2014-04-22 04:41
The media is what builds our society. It seems like everyone who is on the news or on the TV makes themselves look credible and feeds society lies until they bite, and they do. As a society we must all stand up to the media and really pay attention to the words that come out of these credible sources mouths. Our problem as a society is that we seem to be to lazy to look for the facts and the truth in statements and just go for and stand behind the one that is right in front of us with a news media standing behind it.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-22 04:50
Quoting jnc:
Our problem as a society is that we seem to be to[o] lazy to look for the facts and the truth in statements
Is it laziness? The vast majority of people DON'T EVEN KNOW that they should be skeptical of what media and public officials tell them. If they don't know that they should be skeptical then it's not laziness that explains their failure to be skeptical. If they knew that they should be skeptical AND didn't investigate, then you can say they're being lazy. But you can't describe the main problem here as laziness if they don't even know in the first place that they OUGHT to be skeptical.

Lots of peo's comments are along these same lines: "it's the peo's fault that they don't look into the lies they're being told." The reason for this very common mistaken comment is that peo think based on democratic theory that if something's wrong it must be due to the public, not those in authority who are telling the public lies.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Michaelo 2014-04-22 06:26
Besides just laziness and the lack of awareness most people have regarding what is told to them, I think that fear is another factor causing them to be misled. People largely prefer to remain in their comfort zones and to know the truth about how we treat other nations (as well as our own citizens) and the lies that are being told us would be to break that comfort zone and they don't want it. It stops them from digging deeper. "Ignorance is Bliss"
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-22 14:13
Quoting Michaelo:
People largely prefer to remain in their comfort zones and to know the truth about how we treat other nations (as well as our own citizens) and the lies that are being told us would be to break that comfort zone and they don't want it. It stops them from digging deeper. "Ignorance is Bliss"

There are just so many comments like this that assert that the problem is that people are lazy and prefer ignorance. While this does describe SOME people, it is not as so many here say that it's a majority of people. This is a misreading of what I've written in the article. This misreading comes from unquestioningly adopting the conclusions that democratic theory would lead you to, to believe that the status quo is the status quo because the peo must want it to be that way and that the system is the way it is because the peo prefer it that way. That is not how this system works, nor is it how any system works.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # MichaelO 2014-04-25 22:17
Quoting Dennis Loo:
[quote name="Michaelo"]the status quo is the status quo because the peo must want it to be that way and that the system is the way it is because the peo prefer it that way.

-I do not at all believe this to be true. I agree that the main problem IS a lack of awareness, I'm just adding also(because of my own personal experience)that even if people are told the truth and that they should be skeptical about the system, what media tells them, etc. it doesn't necessarily mean that people are going to do anything about it or care. Perhaps it's because their life situation isn't effected/bad enough to make them motivated to seek the truth or want/try to fix things.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-25 22:33
That's great. But I was responding to your words earlier in which you said that "People largely prefer to remain in their comfort zones..." This indicates that you think this is true of at least most people. If you think that it's true of only some people, which I agree with, then you'd want to state it as such, that "Some people prefer to remain in their comfort zones..."
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Lomonaco 2014-04-22 20:49
In education students are fed what the teachers and administrators allow. Textbooks are written with a one-sided view. This does not give the reader a chance to hear all the information and decide for themselves. The media also gives its audience a one-sided view. Some people do take this view and except it as fact. I know a lot of people don’t even like listening to the news because it’s such a downer. There is a lot of talk about crime, accidents, gangs, and other misfortunate events. It’s the same on every station day after day. To top it off, if you only listen to local news you don’t know very much that is going on globally. It is a sad situation. There should be at least a radio broadcast that tells the truth to those who want to hear the truth. The topics could concerns that people have nationwide as well as globally.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # katgrl15 2014-04-24 23:58
People spend a lot of time developing the truth by past experiences and formulated opinions they have developed based off of false information. This false information usually is obtained by a source that is distorted like the article has stated. Nowadays the source is typically through social mass media and whatever is presented and easily accessible to us from television or social networks. The truth never surfaces and is always sweep under the rug to protect those that do not want to be wrong and strive for political, economical, and social power and reward. It was mentioned in class earlier that in Neoclassical Economics the definition of Homo Economics is the dominant and contrary perspective of a lot people that do not accurately reflect what it means to be human and social beings.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # katgrl15 2014-04-24 23:59
Continued from previous comment:

Instead, individuals strive always to maximize individual material gains, which will inevitably divert an individual from revealing the truth because there isn’t any type of material or internal gain that can be obtained from being truthful. This is only one aspect of why people choose to remain quiet and will refute arguments regardless of being wrong or not. People are not open minded enough to listen and learn. Hopefully, people realize that the truth is honest and a better basis to follow because it will lead people into a realistic lifestyle compared to the current lifestyle most people live in today.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # karla garcia 2014-04-26 20:33
its true the media doesn't say the truth but people still seem to believe everything they see on television. when you look at the news all they show are things such as crimes and what celebrities are doing on their free time not what new polices are trying to be passed and how these polices will effect the people. also people choose to ignore the things that they know won't affect them for example immigration if you are a citizen you have nothing to worry about so you don't really pay attention on how that affects others.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-26 22:15
Quoting karla garcia:
it's true the media doesn't say the truth but people still seem to believe everything they see on television.

Of course most people believe what they see on TV. They have no reason to think otherwise since they've not been exposed to alternative perspectives and they hear essentially the same basic thing from all the major outlets. Why would we expect them to think otherwise? So what then needs to happen to wake people up who would otherwise be open to seeing things differently? Those who do see things differently and are on top of what's going on need to bring to others a radically different perspective.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Sherlock 2014-05-05 06:57
I feel like what you are saying is right, that people who do not want to debate may have something to hide. However, there are some people who would not be open to debate, not because they have something to hide but because they are not in full understanding of the situation and are afraid of the opposing view being shoved down their throat. They might need more time to process what is being said and are not prepared for a full fledged debate when the other person is.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-06 00:38
Some people debate others in order to "shove their perspective down someone else's throat." That's a particularly distressing attitude. I'm talking about raising as the central principle in society one in which the leading standard is that discussion and debate be for the purpose of getting at the truth, rather than ego stroking and interest group advancement.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

We welcome and encourage discussion and debate. We find truth via contention.

Security code

Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12