Monday, December 20, 2010

A Simple Idea For Spreading The Truth

No surprise, people believe totally false things in the world of politics. Like, say:

Though the CBO concluded that the health reform law would reduce the budget deficit, 53% of voters thought most economists have concluded that health reform will increase the deficit.

Or, say:

Though the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that climate change is occurring, 45% of voters thought most scientists think climate change is not occurring (12%) or that scientists are evenly divided (33%).

Or, say:

31% believed it was proven true that the US Chamber of Commerce spent large amounts of money it had raised from foreign sources to support Republican candidates

Or, say:

86% assumed their taxes had gone up (38%) or stayed the same (48%), while only 10% were aware that their taxes had gone down since 2009

More examples here. And the big lie of the year, is here.

The easy one to blame for these lies are the news media. I'll give you that delivering news and information is tricky business and that if you aren't careful, your viewers will end up with false information.

Maybe the answer isn't to suggest that news networks should be unbiased. Maybe that's just not possible. Instead, maybe they should expect an error rate in the system, and use a feedback loop to correct it.

In other words, find out what your viewers think is true that isn't - and then address it head on.

Seems like a simple way to demonstrate that you're serious about the truth.

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