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Going Off the Cliff?

“We must elevate information literacy to be a primary goal of education”


If we view the recent years of the blanketing of misinformation over our media channels, where do we go from here? Yes, we have pushback in the form of fact checkers, media studies, retractions, and a scrutiny of the big players. So what?


In their study of the future, Pew Research Center, looked at possible trends both positive and negative. The study, “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” highlights what we know about how the human mind works. Unfortunately, the propaganda artists know it too well. What forces are at work?


One, we all tend to migrate to the familiar, looking for facts that align with what we already think is true. This reinforces misinformed conclusions and attitudes. And this is magnified by the breakdown in trust, trust in the trusted, authoritative sources of the past.


Two, we find thrill in the negative and the sensational. Some 23% of respondents in the Pew study said they had purposely or they had been careless and had unintendedly passed on fake news stories. The tools of the Internet allow us to feel powerful.


Three, the technology we now have allows hackers and their bots to troll the Internet and to post stories in social media sites. Most experts say that technology is not the answer. Instead, we must fund public information sources and we must emphasize information skills and media literacy in our education systems. As a key conclusion of the study, they say, “[The Public] must elevate information literacy to be a primary goal of education.”


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