Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

How much of what you hear each day is unsubstantiated, and do you stop to think about it?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25562 points ) April 22nd, 2012

News sources – are they verified?

Scientific assertions – can they pass unprejudiced peer review?

Advertising claims – are they backed up by evidence?

Idle office chatter – is it merely gossip?

Family conversation – does it edify or belittle?

Here’s a tiny, rather meaningless example. I recently bought a pound of loose tea from Amazon. The consumer reviews were mixed. I was greatly attracted by the very cheap price. I should have read the reviews giving low marks more carefully, because the product has no aroma and the taste is bitter. Was I too caught up in the advertising? Was I misled?

Here’s a more important example. The Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court has opened the coffers of corporations and wealthy individuals to unlimited donations to any party or cause of their choosing. The voices of small, less affluent individuals will be drowned out. Will we each stop to think about the source of political news and advertisements happening now and in this election cycle? Will that information be fair and unbiased?

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16 Answers

ro_in_motion's avatar

I am really picky about the information I take in. This means I don’t watch Faux News, and the ugly little trio of Bill, Rush and Glen.

It’s sad to say, but The Daily Show is so well fact-checked that I use it. A lot of what I get I take from The Guardian. I also treasure crowd source news like Reddit. A tool I use a lot is Wikipedia and Google to confirm information.

I was stunned the day of the CU decision. I will believe that corporations are peeople when a corporation is executed in Texas. It’s an example of what happens when judges who use magical thinking are picked.

marinelife's avatar

I did not like that Supreme Court decision. I do not think that the founders meant for corporations to be considered people.

As to what I take in, I am very critical. Advertising gets to me (as it does to all of us), but I try to apply skepticism.

I don’t really take in random web reviews, because I don’t know what is motivating the reviewer,

Coloma's avatar

I’m the researcher from hell and I never take anothers word for anything, be it personal or the media, or the infamous “they.” My thoughts are that we can find whatever we WANT to find to confirm our own bias and I follow the saying of “Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you read. lol”

CWOTUS's avatar

I try to read and listen to everything somewhat critically. That is, I’m listening or looking for omitted time, form, place, event and people in news stories. What was edited out that was considered unimportant? Who made the claim? When did it happen vs. when are we hearing about it? How was language used in the report?

I dismiss most of what I read in the newspaper as ‘unreliable’, and I don’t watch television news at all any more if I can help it. (Living at my uncle’s house with him from December to March was difficult, since the television was always on and hard to ignore.) Television news is just the loss leader into Entertainment Tonight or some such; in fact, sometimes it’s hard to tell where the one leaves off and the other begins.

And advertising… oh, don’t get me started! I’m astonished that we let so many advertising claims stand: “the best”, “the cheapest”, “the most reliable”, etc. Nine times out of ten the claims are out and out fraudulent.

cookieman's avatar

I assume that everything I hear, see, or read has an agenda behind it. Everything from everyone.

It’s just a matter of whether or not I agree with or am sympathetic toward that agenda.

That being said, I consciously try to balance my cynicism by reminding myself that most people mean well.

Trillian's avatar

The incessant clamor of information and input with which we are bombarded, by its very nature, renders one incapable of verifying all of it. We end up having to pick and choose. We probably should pay more attention to information which influences our cinsumer decisions, as you just re learned. But on the other hand, sometimes there is no substitute for firsthand knowledge.
Think of movies that you’ve enjoyed despite negative reviews, or the opposite. Or restaurants that you enjoyed, while people you knew or overheard had negative things to say about it.
We hear experts disagree about pretty much everything, so again, we are left to decide on our own. We have not the time to ourselves become experts in everything.
One must therefor consider the source and make one’s best choice.
There are no guarantees, regardless. So we can still expect to make mistakes in judgement or decisions that we have to make. The degree of importance of each decision we make, of course, varies.
That’s, hopefully, how we learn.

YARNLADY's avatar

Mostly, it makes no difference to me. When something does strike me as being important, I verify it by checking various sources.

wildpotato's avatar

I hear 85% of statistics are made up on the spot.

wundayatta's avatar

62%. And I made that up just now!

Coloma's avatar

and don’t forget since we all live inoffensive little lives, well….we all lack credibility.
inside joke for the uninformed haha

Trillian's avatar

And bullhorns.

Blackberry's avatar

I dated a woman whose brother thought allergies weren’t real and they were only in our heads…......

I didn’t even try to correct him because he said many other things that were kind of strange. He was older so I just let him be, lol.

I know a woman who thinks Obama has a “genius socialist plan” to “put everyone on welfare”.

There’s some sports talk, but I don’t pay attention to sports so I don’t care what they say anyway. And the rest are just stories so who knows about those as well.

Coloma's avatar

@Blackberry He’s right, they are all in our head. lol

Sunny2's avatar

I take almost everything I hear under consideration until the full story comes out. It seems everything is ‘spun’ in order to get a particular reaction. I am a long time skeptic, so it isn’t hard to suspend belief temporarily.

ratboy's avatar

If it’s on the TV or the web, then it must be true.

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