Have you ever been in the middle of watching a news program, sitting in a classroom or (been caught up in an infomercial) and suddenly thought ,” Wait a minute, what am I being fed here? I am not just being informed but subtly told how I should think, feel, and react to the information being presented”.
With the infomercial we catch on pretty quick ( but it’s so tempting to believe that we too could have those rock hard abs in just 4 weeks with only 30 seconds a day of the ” Ab-maestro”). We want the abs, they want our money, usually in just 27 easy payments of $14 (plus shipping and handling).
But who really goes for that stuff anyway? Actually,enough people buy that stuff to allow the seller to pay for hour-long commercials. Yeah.
We may have little respect for the authority of the infomercial but when we have a person in a trusted position of authority on our television, such as a news anchor person, a popular talk show host, or a beloved teacher in a classroom, our tendency is to accept what we are hearing somewhat uncritically. In all of these situations we are lead in a particular direction or to come to a particular conclusion. That’s how we become informed positively (or misinformed).
Often we are told what to believe or what to accept. It is always subtle and we end up buying not only into the news facts but the bias presentation of the news story. The background banter between the anchor and co-anchor as they shake their head or nod to one another in approval to the stories developments or outcome. We are expected to swallow more than the facts we are expected to agree with the presentation itself , after all, the people presenting the bias are authority figures, they carry weight, they reflect the “proper opinion” don’t they?
Persuasion is a good teaching tool but critical thinking looks past the apparatus to weigh the facts , sometimes to bring those facts in contact with other facts left out of the argument and to simmer those facts together to find critical truth.
Think about the most controversial subjects (Rights of the unborn vs pro-choice or, intelligent design verses evolutionary theory) we are told what opinion is politically correct , all through the presentation of facts, and our little boat is pushed out onto the waters of society adrift along with others and floating on popular opinion. This creates societal peer pressure. In fact these are almost of no controversy anymore due to the continued political correct agenda of the presentation of news media.
Teachers will be marking your paper. Now there’s incentive to tell them what they want to hear. If it is a paper written on a controversial subject like rights of the unborn vs pro-choice . You can bet the pressure will to be to toe the line and weight the discussion to the popular opinion. ( Would an ethics class even consider this topic?) I wonder.
Or try postulating the concept of Intelligent design in a classroom exploring the theory of origins and evolutionary theory.
It is a theory isn’t it? yet there is no other postulation to be brought to the table? I mean stuff to make you think!!!
Think about the effect that political correctness has had on the exchange ideas in the public forum. In the space of one single generation people have made a 180 degree turn on some the major issues of life and world-view.
We are not to be conspiracy theorists and we may have to be careful about what we say to whom ,or we will have no voice at all, but certainly we posses our own mind and with this amazing mind we have a tremendous capacity to think critically and to own what we believe and not just be drifting along with no purpose and no well thought out world view and conviction on important issues.
So watch the news, ( maybe turn off the infomercials and the talk-show host) and hear your teachers but own you mind and own your convictions don’t give them away to the world.