Information and the Art of Preserving Facts in the Digital Era
Fake news, misinformation, and unbacked claims have circulated much easier and prominent by tangling readers or audience into a series of intricate waves that mislead the public point of view of the situation. We are in times where everything comes by a flash and is now on the rise recently that the regulation of media broadcasts is intertwined with freedom of speech. The danger is that it can cause a wide disparity of argument, mistrust in official institutes, and worst-case scenario civil unrest boiling up from all the confusion. I am not here to divulge the sophistication and nuances of these entities but I will be mainly focusing on how to avoid being pulled into the ring or have the build-up instinct to detect some of these misleading articles.
I like to give a somewhat illustration of how information can be misconstrued into a clickbait of a title and misleading while at the same time sound credible. Imagine a fictional world where natural raw essential resources such as water, sunlight, and sustenance are scarce and the citizens lack the comfort to provide families and themselves with the proper needs to survive and thus rely on a strict ratio. Researchers in that world have been working profusely on getting the world back on track with findings suggesting that replacing those limited resources through artificial chemicals would multiply the quantity rapidly. The resources that can be cultivated are natural resources and not resources that are not renewable (fossil fuel, coal, natural gas, and nuclear). Everyone knew about the findings, to some degree of understanding but not the whole picture. Unfortunately, the research only shows that the chemicals increase supplies that still exist and have not completely disappeared. One of the most famous broadcasting agency called Rho broadcast that has significant support from dismayed survivors is broadcasting their insight onto the dystopian world claiming that “Scientist have found new strategies in combating scarcity by using artificial chemicals to increase resources” and urge the public to freely indulge their remaining supplies however they want. Due to this mankind is divided into two sides with one side agreeing on the statement and thus depleting their current supplies and the other side completely disagrees and is now conserving their supplies to the extreme as they are too afraid to risk it all. As individual thinkers such as ourselves, we feel that something is just not right and so we do some research and with a bit of critical thinking that can lead us to a conclusion. What is our best step in identifying which facts are real, somewhat real, and not true at all?
First of all, we have to assess the headline by taking a look at the original research it is based on. The title suggests that artificial chemicals help rejuvenate the depleted resources but the research shows that resources that can be rejuvenated are the ones that have not been depleted yet. A second look at the fact from a different perspective. We are going to highlight the types of resources (renewable and non-renewable resources). Since we are getting it from Rho broadcast we have to find alternative resources. Luckily in that world the scientist somehow was able to spread this vital information that was lacking from Rho broadcast, providing crucial information that specifically states that “chemicals increase supplies that still exist and have not completely disappeared” would provide a definitive conclusion. The last and crucial fact checking tool is to read and digest the whole thing and absorb it. Read all of the text and not just pass through, listen to what the announcers are saying and not just hear it, and take a good look at it twice or thrice and not just accept it right away. I hope this little article can help or maybe shed some light on addressing the clickbait issue that is still quite rampant in cyberspace.