“Fighting fact-free journalism: a how-to guide” – The Conversation

(It can be hard to sort fact from fiction in the modern media environment Mike Bailey-Gates) … and with some blog sites, it’s impossible.

A growing cohort of commentators has bemoaned the descent of contemporary political “debate” into a largely fact-free zone.

People used to be entitled to their own opinions, but not their own set of facts. In the contemporary spectacle that passes for politics, it appears as though politicians are also entitled to make up their own facts at will.

There are small but encouraging signs that this era of post-fact politics might be coming to an end.

The boundary between truth and falsehood has arguably been eroded during the past few decades, aided in part by a media which has gradually discarded actual journalism that establishes and reports facts in favour of “he-said-she-said” churnalism.

This trend has made it possible for outlandish and patently false claims, such as the imaginary uncertainty surrounding President Obama’s place of birth, to be given extended coverage by the “mainstream” media, rather than being speedily dismissed upon investigation for complete lack of substance.

Truth Vigilantes

Into this fact-free media world exploded a bombshell earlier this year when public editor of the New York Times Arthur Brisbane asked whether the paper should be a “truth vigilante”. Brisbane asks “whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

Excuse me?!

Isn’t this why we have a free press in the first place?

The very fact this question is posed reveals the full depth of the vortex into which some Western societies have descended … . But the fact the question was posed also shows this crisis is beginning to penetrate even the minds of those who are partially responsible for it in the first place. This is surely an encouraging sign.

This (below) is not an encouraging sign!

It can be hard to sort fact from fiction in the modern media environment. Mike Bailey-Gates

Moons and myths

In light of all this, how might we restore the twin notions of “fact” and “reality” to public discourse?

If people mistakenly believe the moon is made of green cheese, how can we help them acquire a more realistic view of the world? Research in cognitive science can help answer that question.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as saying “actually, the moon is not made of green cheese.”

It is not even sufficient to say it repeatedly.

So how do we then correct misinformation?

To find out and to read this article from The Conversation, click here.

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