The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
I realize this is a gaming site and the overwhelming
majority of topics center on that, but occasionally it's good to look at the
outside world. There's a lot going on there that needs our attention.
Politics is one of my pet causes. I do not aim to force you
into a certain party or ideology, only that you are aware of what's happening
in our country. The actions of our politicians filter down and affect us in
every possible way, whether we want them to or not. The least we can do is be
The best way to be prepared for the consequences of politics
is to know what consequences to prepare for. It's simple logic. Following
political news is an absolutely critical step in being informed. If you're
informed, you can be ready for whatever good/bad stuff the politicians throw at
Editor's Note: In the spirit of fairness, I have decided to add politically offensive images to this blog. Apologies if there are more anti-conservative pictures. It's surprisingly hard to find good images making fun of liberals.
However, a lot of people go about finding news in the wrong
way. They screw it up, plain and simple. It's appalling just how many people
don't even realize that they are consuming news incorrectly. If you want to be
informed, you have to always remember this principle:
Never completely trust
any source of news.
That sounds harsh. It is.
It's also true. Every newspaper, every magazine, every
website, and every single television station that covers the news has some
degree of bias. That's just the way it is. The news is reported by people, and
people are imperfect. Therefore, the news is imperfect. As much as journalists
try to filter their own biases, sometimes they slip through. It happens often.
Sometimes it's subtle, other times it's as blatant as calling the other party
the living reincarnation of evil.
Pictured above: Subtlety.
It's important to remember that no source of news is immune
to bias. Not CNN, not Fox News, not The Daily Show, not Alternet, not RedState,
no one. The Associated Press is the
closest thing to unbiased news we have, and even it isn't perfect. If there is
a perfectly balanced news source, I have not seen it.
The scary part is that a great deal of people don't seem to
realize that they listen to and watch biased news. People only ever notice bias
against their political beliefs. When it confirms their previously held ideas,
it's balanced. This is called confirmation bias. It's a phenomenon in which
you look for ideas which support your beliefs and ignore anything which
contradicts them. It happens to everyone, myself included.
This brings us to a point in which you may need a little
background of the history of the news. In the past, newspapers tried to report
the news in an unbiased manner so as to attract readers of all political
affiliations. Democrats' money is just as good as Republicans', and a news
organization is a business. Everything they do is not geared toward serving the public good. It's toward making money.
However, the last few years have brought back a different
sort of news source: the partisan paper. Instead of trying to attract the
largest possible audience, a lot of news sources have instead tried to attract
specific political groups. News on the internet is especially guilty of this.
RedState has a conservative slant. The Daily Kos is liberal. Reason writes for
Think of it in terms of video games. CNN tries to appeal to
everyone. It's like Call of Duty. Websites like The Daily Kos only aim for a
specific group. They're like niche Japanese RPGs. They don't need to please
everyone, just their target audience.
So what's the problem? If some people want to get their news
with from others who share their point of view, what's wrong with that?
Nothing, if you remember that the news you're reading is
A chart supposedly demonstrating MSNBC's on-air references to both parties. Source.
The problem comes when that's the only news you ever read.
Imagine that you're liberal. You vote Democratic, like Obama, and are for gay
marriage. As a liberal person, you tend to seek out news that favors liberal
points of view. You start reading The Daily Kos and Alternet, two strongly
liberal websites. You listen to NPR in the car, an occasionally liberal radio
After a while, all you hear is news from a liberal point of
view. After a while, all you hear is that conservatives are evil simpletons who
hate women and poor people. After a while, you start believing that. It has to be true because every news source
you listen to says so. You become trapped in a bubble of ideas that support
your own beliefs confirm what you already think. It's a vicious cycle powered
by confirmation bias.
For the record, the opposite is true with conservatism. It's
just as easy to get trapped in a never-ending circle between RedState, Fox
News, and The Blaze. I hate this phrase with a passion because it is a cliché,
but both sides are guilty of the confirmation-bias cycle. Just look at that nifty chart below.
A chart supposedly demonstrating Fox New's on-air references to both parties. Source.
That's the danger of following the news. It is so, so easy to lose track of what's biased
and what's not and to just write off the other side as crazy. In order to stay
informed, you have to fight that urge and avoid being trapped in a bubble of
bad news. Stopping misinformation is as easy as reading news that favors other
points of view. You don't have to agree with them, just to understand what they
think and why.
Reading biased news sources is OK. If it wasn't, we wouldn't
have anything to read. The important part is to always keep in mind that
everyone has an agenda. You have to put news within the proper context. For
example, look at The Wall Street Journal
and The New York Times. They're two superb
newspapers which are exemplars of professionalism and quality news... so long as
you understand that the Times tends
to be liberal and the Journal conservative.
They're both great newspapers, but each one has its own slant.
I had trouble finding "conservative" pictures, but this one more than made up for it.
If you're still with me, thanks. I know this went on longer
than expected and got preachy. I'm sorry. It's an important topic to me. I fear
misinformed voters far more than informed people who believe different things
than I do. Really, as long as you stick to the principle of not trusting any
news completely, you'll be fine. I really mean that. Everyone is biased. Even
me. Especially me.
What do you think? Do you follow the news? If so, which news
organizations do you prefer? Why? Bonus points if you can guess my political views.