| It’s the Information Age; You have NO Excuse for NOT Thinking Critically!
|Scrutinizing skullduggery, artifice, and malarkey is easier than ever.
A few years ago I noticed a small growth on my eyelid. Overtime it
continued to grow; it developed an odd shape that was dark in color
and looked something like a cross between a mole and a wart. I was
concerned that it might be skin cancer, so I went to see my dermatologist.
After examining it, she told me that it was not cancer. That was a relief,
but then she added that while it was benign it was in a location that she
could not treat. She said that it would continue to grow, and that at
some point I would need to have an eye surgeon remove it. Ugh!
After a several months of watching it grow, I decided to do an online
search for natural methods to remove skin growths. I found a woman
who said she was able to remove skin tags and moles from her face
by soaking cotton balls in apple cider vinegar, then taping them over
the growths, and leaving them in place for several hours. Clearly I
couldn’t tape a soggy cotton ball full of vinegar over my eye; so that
was out. After giving it some thought, I decided to try something similar.
I dipped a Q-tip cotton swab in apple cider vinegar and then used it to
carefully paint the vinegar over the growth on my eyelid. I couldn’t
get the swab too wet or the vinegar would get in my eye and burn.
I did this twice a day for about a month, then decided nothing was
happening, and that I was wasting my time. So I quit. Then about two
weeks later I noticed that the growth had gotten even darker and
was now hard and crusty to the touch. My first thought was that it
was getting worse, but a few days later, to my surprise, the whole
thing fell off; there was nothing but fresh clean skin where the
growth had been..
Lesson Learned: there may be alternative solutions to your problem
than the one you know.
Useful Knowledge is at Your Fingertips
One summer, I went to pressure wash my patio, but my pressure
washer wasn’t working. I called a repair shop, and the owner quoted
me a price to fix it that was nearly the same as the cost of a new
one. I then went onto YouTube and looked up small engine repairs.
After a few minutes, I found one that resolved my problem, and I
was able to fix my pressure washer for $7.
The world is at our fingertips if we only look. On the internet, I’ve
learned how to tune my bicycle, diagnose problems with my car, and
much more. You can even learn how to play the piano! Pretty much
anything you want to know, you can begin learning from information
online. Including finding out whether or not someone is giving you the
Bad Players Take Advantage of Your Ignorance
We’ve all gotten an email from a Nigerian prince who wants to give us
millions of dollars; or heard an extraordinary argument from a flat earther;
or gotten a scam phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS,
Social Security, or Microsoft. It seems that we are being lied to all the
time - even from sources we used to trust! These days you need to
question a purveyor of information’s motivation to discover their bias
We’ve all heard about Fake News, but how do you know if you what
you’ve heard is false? One way is to evaluate the story for rhetorical
fallacies and propaganda techniques (see my previous articles: Protect
Yourself from Verbal Sleight of Hand and Propaganda ‘til You Puke).
Watch Out for these Red Flags
The easiest way to suspect the veracity of a story is if it triggers you
emotionally. Does the story make you feel angry, afraid, anxious,
depressed, ecstatic, or excited? If so, then you should consider your
inflamed emotion to be a red flag for potential fake news. When your
emotions are impacted by a story, it probably needs further investigation
to determine the truth. If you feel particularly emotional, it could mean
that you are being manipulated. This is especially likely if the story
treads on any societal taboo topics such as sex, religion, or politics.
Is there a Wow Factor to the story? Does it make you think, “Wow,
that’s incredible!” or “That’s unbelievable!” Then it probably is.
Another red flag is if you feel like you are being pressured or pushed
into doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you
don’t want to do. What is the motivation behind the person or
organization pressuring you? Is there a money trail?
Are you only hearing one side of a story? Is there another side? Do
the research and find out. For example: in war, the victors get to write
the history books, or at least spin the facts in their favor. I have a
friend, who, in the days before the internet, used a short wave radio
receiver to listen to news from other countries in order to get more
balanced information. Today you can get news from all over the world
easily on your computer.
Consider it a red flag, if you feel you are not allowed to question
something, or that you will be ostracized or penalized for questioning it.
Be wary of topics that you are not allowed to question. I had an
employer who told me I wasn’t allowed to discuss my salary with
other employees. Of course not, I might have found out I was being paid
less and ask for a raise. When subjects are not allowed to be discussed,
the truth cannot be discovered... and perhaps that is the point.
Choices and Alternatives Constitute Freedom
Is someone making you believe you do not have a choice? You always
have a choice - there are always alternatives - just like I discovered with
the treatment for the growth on my eyelid.
The internet has made the ability to examine and analyze issues
available to everyone. We all have access to the same information if we
only bother to explore. Learn to question authority, and challenge the
status quo. Ask questions, like: “Why does it have to be this way?” "Is
there a substitute?" “Can we try something different?”
Fake News Begets Fake Fact-Checkers
Sadly, because of their political leaning, you can’t trust online
fact-checkers to do your critical thinking for you. Fact-checkers don’t
operate for free, which means most of them are financially supported by
members of partisan factions. Those factions have agendas which
influence the fact-checker’s objectivity and destroy their credibility.
Research the financial backers of the various fact-checkers, some will
be non-profit organizations which means you’ll have to dig and hunt
for who is financing those as well. Most of us don’t have time to probe
that deep; it’s easier just to assume that all of them are biased.
Seek Alternative Sources for Information Online
Don’t use just one search engine on the internet. Some of the biggest
search engines have been caught suppressing information in an effort
to shape public opinion. Use several search engines to do your
investigations. If you are getting your news from social media, you
need to know that social media sites also suppress stories. Subscribe
to several social media sites in order to get a variety of news and
Ignorance is NOT Bliss
"I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only
they knew they were slaves," is a quote attributed (and perhaps
incorrectly) to Harriet Tubman. Whether she said it or not, it still
serves as an apt aphorism for many people in today’s world: if you
don’t know you’re oppressed, then you can’t be liberated. Today, there
is no reason to be uninformed anymore. Become a critical thinking
investigator today, and liberate yourself from Fake News, propaganda,
indoctrination, and scams. You’ll be happy you did.
© Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.