We all know carbon dating has been disproven. Homosexuality is a choice. Climate change is a hoax. Hillary is a criminal. Everyone should carry a gun for protection.
All of these statements have been treated as facts in the media over the past few weeks, in preparation for USA to go to the polls.
And many people fully believe them to be true.
“People have difficulty now just sorting out what is true and what is not, and if you don’t have some common baseline of facts… it’s very hard to figure out how we move the democracy forward.”
US President Barack Obama
If we don’t have a common understanding of the facts, how do we have a national conversation about policy?
President Obama goes on to say that the filters on the information getting to the people are very challenging to overcome. News sources report untrue information that people believe. People don’t think critically about the information delivered to them through AM Talk Radio, Fox News, Facebook, “Reality” TV…
Confirmation bias has people making decisions then looking for the statements in any media to confirm their beliefs.
In Canada, what questions are we asking about our media?
During our last national election, some of our largest newspapers used their front pages for partisan politics to influence voters.
In Ontario schools, while we are concerned about the ability of our students to make up an article for traditional print media, how do we also ensure that they know how to critically examine media and ask questions to separate fact from belief?
If ever there was a time for educators to make digital literacies, including critical thinking, a priority, today is it.
Canada needs critical thinkers who make evidence-informed decisions. We need citizens who know how to keep their eyeballs, their heads, and their hearts on the truth, no matter what filters are on the media that they tune into.
We need citizens who stand up to the indoctrination of children and the perpetuation of false information.
Featured image (Where’s my eyeball?) shared by Alan Levine CC BY 2.0
OSAPAC Resource for School Leaders
OSAPAC Resources for Digital Citizenship: Critical Thinking and Information Literacy
The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies by Doug Belshaw