Learning to See the Rainbow: How to Form Informed Opinions

In today’s day and age, one of the greatest struggles is separating the truth from the spin. By “spin,” I mean, of course, the angle from which the information is being reported. As much as we’d like to believe that everybody is telling us the whole story without any ulterior motives, we simply can’t be this naive. As we try and sort through the constant flow of new information and stimuli presented to us, we need to be able to look at the facts head-on and think for ourselves.

I admit this can be very difficult at times. In today’s media age, we are being bombarded on all sides with fake news, trolls, and politically motivated messages. It’s hard to decide what we can and can’t trust. I’ve found it most beneficial to take in information from multiple sources. It turns out that what they say about lies is true: the best lies all stem from a grain of truth. Often articles can report on the same issue and portray polar opposite incidents. If you watch both news stories, though, you’ll find that there is an overlap in information. This is the root information. This is the truth that you can take and begin to understand the issue.

Another key point in finding what I’ll call “motivated articles” (articles presented in a way beneficial to the author) is to keep in mind the position of the source on hot-button issues. I’ve found that using the chart found at the following link: http://www.adfontesmedia.com/the-chart-version-3-0-what-exactly-are-we-reading/         is quite helpful. The chart shows the relative political bias and compares it to the objectivity and accuracy of the information. When you have researched the way that sources align themselves on past issues, it becomes easier to spot their “spin” on the article and weed it out.

I myself am a very moderate person. I don’t affiliate with any party, and I make judgments and vote based off of what I believe will benefit America or my state the most.  Voting based on party lines is a detrimental action that our country has moved to. The truth is, there aren’t only ever two options. As citizen’s of a democratic republic, we are responsible for being informed and voting based on our own findings. Just listening to CNN or Fox News is going to lead people to be biased one way or another. We need to keep in mind that these programs are designed to convince. Although it’s not bad to agree with what they say, it’s also healthy to take it all with a grain of salt. Healthy skepticism should drive all your decisions. If you don’t allow for doubt to creep into a gut instinct, then, chances are, you’re too emotionally invested in the issue and need to take a step back.

With the immense availability of information today we have no shortage of news outlets within reach. However, the incredible ease with which someone can broadcast information, there’s also no shortage of false information that someone can publish. I myself get my news from multiple sources. I listen to numerous podcasts while doing assignments for school. I watch the quick snapchat sponsored news stories and I put on Fox news or even CNN in the background. I watch these news channels mostly to keep up to date with what’s going on in the country and the world I live in. When something comes on that interests me or that I question, I go to Associated Press or NBC News to fact-check it. I’ve found this to be an effective way to reduce bias influenced on me, but still expose myself to the extremes. This way I am able to see the extremes of the issue and research more moderate views and solutions. I’m not saying that Liberals are wrong or that Conservatives are wrong, but often instead of getting belligerent and borderline violent, there is another option altogether that can satisfy the issue without creating more.

As I said, it is our duty to stay well-informed and guide our country in the way we see fit. If we vote for someone because they wear a blue or red pin, we’re setting ourselves for failure. We can’t allow ourselves to become so emotionally involved in an issue that we blind ourselves to outside opinions. Yes, an issue may affect us personally, and it’s difficult to separate ourselves from our preconceived notions and visceral decisions. When we make the decision to learn more and be open minded to all points of view, that’s when we truly eliminate the angles from which we are receiving the information. I like to think of it like a prism. A prism separates white light into all the colors of visible light. If you were to stand in one spot a prism would make you see red. Another person may stand there and tell you the prism is reflecting green light, and yet another could say the light is clearly purple. All would be right, but all only have a piece of the truth. Only someone who stands at an angle from which they can see the rainbow can tell you for sure what light is being broadcasted. Now that we understand this principle, the only issue is learning when you’ve found the angle from which you can see the entire “rainbow.” Because if we always assume we have observed the entire spectrum, we’ll never realize that there’s more to see.

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