In this post, we’ll take a look at some practical ways we can fight the information war on a human level. In another post, we’ll discuss how to fight this war on a spiritual level. And in an earlier post, we examined information warfare committed by both sides.
All around us swirl a blizzard of lies that create the fog of information war. How do we begin to discern the truth from lies? How do we begin to truly see the facts and critically evaluate all of them? Looking at this from an entirely human perspective, here are seven suggestions:
Part of the challenge here is since many of us get our information from social media, we are trained to react quickly. It is the nature of the medium. We want that immediate response. We want to be the first to comment we want to be the first to post. However, doing so exclusively is really very, very dangerous, as not only are we not evaluating that information for ourselves, but also we may unintentionally be spreading misinformation. Before you react, I encourage you to take a moment and step aside from the information to think.
As you endeavor to keep abreast of current events, be very selective of which sources you use and whose channels you follow.
By finding sources that promote an opposite view from yours, you tend to get a fuller picture of the issues. This practice will help keep you grounded.
These two abilities will go a long way to help you think critically.
If you wish to improve your abilities to think critically and logically, I suggest you train yourself even further. For example:
Don't be an information spectator, which means don't keep swiping for your information. I'm saying this because I personally experienced what that's like. I was swiping and swiping and I suddenly realized how much of an information spectator I’d become. I was not really thinking logically, critically; I was not drilling down into it. The way to avoid becoming an information spectator is to spend time reading books. The act of reading engages other parts of your brain and it slows you down. As you read word by word, it helps you to think, to digest, and to retain the information.
In addition to reading well-researched nonfiction books on current issues, I also recommend reading:
History. A good history book is another nonfiction source that will enhance your knowledge, giving you a greater context within which to understand current events.
Great literature. What makes great literature is not just masterful writing but also its exploration of timeless truths about humankind. Great literature will elevate your thoughts, helping broaden and deepen your perspective.
Philosophy. Reading philosophy will also broaden and deepen your perspective.
Logic. Pick up a good textbook or two or take a course on logic and argument. Now, there are two types of logic one is logic in the broader sense and that's generally mathematical logic. If you're mathematically inclined that will help train your brain as well. But for those of us whose strengths are more on the verbal side of the brain, studying “baby logic” -- critical thinking and argument logic—is really useful because studying this subject will help you identify logical fallacies. At first glance, logical fallacies may seem like they undergird a sound, logical argument but they do not. Usually when people use a logical fallacy as a part of their argument it’s because there is no sound reasoning behind it. Therefore, logical fallacies are a tip-off to an argument that has no merit.
Words really do matter. Words shape the battlefield of the information war. I'll give you a case in point. The side that supports abortion will often use phrases such as: “My body, my choice.” These words may sound good but there is a logical fallacy within them. The very act of abortion is to kill another body, the baby, within the mother. That baby has an entirely different DNA than the mother, is a unique and separate organism from the mother. Given those facts, the whole argument of my body, my choice totally goes out the window. It makes no sense; it's total nonsense. That’s why words truly matter. In addition to thinking critically about words, I would suggest you, get a really good print dictionary. What I’ve found with online versions, especially now with the rise of AI and machine learning, is that they narrow your choices of definitions, consequently, limiting your full understanding. They quarantine your mind. You need a print version, so that you can see the whole array of choices available to you and you can select the best word for your use. Words -- especially in the English language -- have so much nuance, as there’s denotation (what the word actually means) and there’s connotation (what the word means in certain circumstances.) There are so many subtleties in the English language that are important for you to know and know how to use properly, subtleties that often do not reveal themselves in an online version. By better understanding words and their proper use, you will be better equipped on the battlefield of the information war.
Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, I encourage you to increase your vocabulary on a regular basis. By doing so you are equipping yourself for the battlefield of the information war, as words do shape that battlefield. One example of how a words is frequently misused is the word “enormity.” Commonly, you'll see that word used to describe a big thing or something that is great. That's partially true, as this is an aspect of the word “enormity”. However, this is not its full meaning. The subtlety comes in what is the “great” that this word describes; enormity describes a great evil. To use the word accurately, you must use it to describe a “great evil.” Therefore, you don't talk about the enormity of choices in a truly capitalist society; rather, you would use it when referring to the deeds of the Third Reich.
These are just a few suggestions to help get you better equipped to fight the information war. I encourage to at least start with one of them.
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Copyright 2022 Sandra A. Eggers. Sharing is encouraged; however, please give credit where credit is due. Thank you.