critical thinking

critical thinking

The Truth about Conspiracy Theories

The Truth about Conspiracy Theories

You’ve probably heard that the illuminati has been trying to overthrow the US government since its beginning, right?  And of course you know the earth is flat, not round like all those “scientists” claim.  The moon landing was obviously faked, because how could people ever really do that?  You’ve heard all of these theories, but hopefully you don’t believe a single one of them.  These are a particular branch of misinformation known as conspiracy theories. (source: knownyourmeme.com, unknown creator.) Conspiracy theories are not new, and most definitely not true.  For as long as there’s been publishing, there’s been evidence of conspiracy theories, some of which still exist today.  While some conspiracy theories stem from a longing for information and a … Continued
Fake news fatigue? Never fear!

Fake news fatigue? Never fear!

Since fake news came to wider prominence in 2016, many of us are increasingly skeptical of news accuracy and news quality.  While it makes sense to scrutinize various news sources, most Americans find mainstream media biased.   Only about 32% of Americans trust mainstream news, and this figure dropped eight percentage points from the previous year’s study (2015-2016.)  Unfortunately, some of that mistrust is earned.  Still, even in the era of faster news cycles, instantaneous information and “alternative” press, there are a few solutions. One is to become an advocate for truth, or as oceanographer and director of LUMCON Craig McClain puts it, a “Nerd of Trust.”  According to McClain, while up to 82% of scientists use Facebook regularly, very few … Continued
Media Savvy

Media Savvy

Media Literacy Week is coming up, starting November 6th, and it is perfectly timed as you think about sources and what you want to include in your upcoming papers and projects. Media literacy is vital to anyone, teaching you how to understand and critique the many messages news, entertainment, advertising, and more send to you, and protecting you from manipulation by those who would influence your opinion or behavior (or, at least, minimizing that influence).   The National Association for Media Literacy Education defines media literacy as “the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, COMMUNICATE and CREATE using all forms of communication”. It’s worth taking time to think about each of those abilities as you move forward in the semester. Access You … Continued
Separating fact from non-fact

Separating fact from non-fact

The buzzwords are legion: Fake news, alternative facts, falsehoods. In the last three months, all these terms have been printed in newspapers, flashed on screens and rehashed on television on a nearly daily basis. It’s difficult to discern reliable data from opinion or lies these days. While there is no single sure-fire method for telling fact from non-fact, here are some tools to help you sort through the news today. Know your news First, it would help to know more about different kinds of inauthentic news sources. Fake news: While it’s simple to say that fake news is simply news that isn’t real, the truth is more complicated than that. According to media scientist Melissa Zimdars, fake news falls under … Continued
On the Lookout for Fake News

On the Lookout for Fake News

Did you hear that taurine can reverse the effects of tinnitus? Or that a man named Tom Ogle invented a carburetor that runs entirely on fuel vapors? Maybe you did, but hopefully you didn’t believe those stories – because they’re not true. Fake news is legion these days. According to Merrimack College professor Melissa Zimdars, fake news comes in one of four categories: 1 – Completely false news, with no factual basis 2 – News that is misleading or inaccurate 3 – News stories with attention grabbing headlines that may not have anything to do with their article’s content 4 – Satirical sites, whose content is meant to invoke humor And it’s not always easy to tell fake news from … Continued