It’s Critical. I Think.

Posted by admin on December 12, 2016 in The Soapbox |

Increasingly, we seem to be living in a post-truth world. We seem to refuse to believe the most basic of absolute facts in favor of the wildest of fantasies. To bolster our belief in the absurd, the crazy and often times manipulative, we drink the Kool Aid of faux-news sites and clickbait on Facebook and share it as if it is written on stone tablets sent from above.

To paraphrase from one of my favorite movies, the American people aren’t drinking the sand they find in the desert to quench their thirst; they drink it because they just don’t know any better.

There was a time not so long ago that we could all instantly tell that a snake oil salesman was trying to sell us something. We knew it was a scam and that the guy knocking on our door was a huckster. We were savvy consumers, the type that could go to a used car dealership and know, almost instinctively, that the car the salesman was trying his darndest to sell us was the biggest lemon on the lot.

We knew fact from fiction. And if we didn’t, we knew how to do our research. We would pour over publications like Consumer Reports before we bought a stereo or a car. We read endless reviews in newspapers and magazines before we’d see a movie. We were voracious consumers of the truth.

The truth was so important that we rallied in the streets to end an unjust war, we demanded the resignation of a President who lied to us to our faces, and long before most of us were born, we brought shame to a U.S. Senator for who accused ordinary citizens of being Communists.

Now we readily share anything that comes across vaguely as a news source, whether it’s Briebert, Fox News, or We don’t even bother to check the accuracy quickly on Google. We just mindlessly and all too willingly pass it along, as if it is a long held fact, when in fact, it could have been created specifically to misinform and worse, brainwash.

We have become lazy, feasting on the fat of faux news that others with obvious agendas foist on us daily. No longer do we dine on digestible, yet often complex news. We were weened on 60-second stories on the evening news. We are a sound-bite culture and now we are raising a meme-minded culture who are our children.

We have stopped being smart consumers. We have let others dumb us down. Snake oil salesmen who have a talented web designer who can make even the stupidest, most vile, most fact-void stories seem real. And we willingly pass these right along to our friends, this faux news, poorly crafted photos retouched in Photoshop and sound bites that have been edited to deceive, not inform.

I admit, I am a bit spoiled. Before I ever pass on an item, I check the source first. At the very least I will Google the “news” to see if reputable news organizations have picked the story up as well. I don’t care what their angle is. I was a journalism major, so I know there’s no such thing as objective news reporting. All reporters work for news outlets who make their money selling advertising. Their publishers all have a point of view, be it liberal, conservative, alt right or just plain crazy.

I learned long ago how to be a smart consumer of the news. It started long before I went to college to be a journalist. It started when I was young, almost living in the library, checking out a big stack of books every 28 days and reading up on dozens of subjects. I learned to cross-check what I read with other sources, and then I discovered the references in the back, which quoted original source material.

Wow! What a revelation! Today, I do the same. I always check for original source material. For example, there’s a bunch of whackos who are trying to claim that the southern states didn’t secede because of the slavery issue. Wrong! Don’t believe me? Read the text of the original documents. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Without going into too much science, your brain can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined, what is fact and what is fiction. If you immerse yourself long enough in fiction and fakery, it will become real to you, just as an insane person lives in a fantasy world that to him, looks entirely real.

Now, I don’t really care if you decide to take this course in your life. Sink into the depths of fantasy, revel in the fantastic, become mired in the fakery; just don’t take us with you. Spend an extra minute or two and return to your days in school when your teacher asked you where you got your facts. Quoting from Mad Magazine got you an ‘F’, remember? The same if you quoted a fact from Batman, though truth be told, the cartoonists back in those days had a better education than 90% of the people on Facebook.

I’ve lost a lot of friends this year. It’s not who they voted for. I could, quite frankly, care less what your politics are. I do, however, care if you spread lies masked as truth, fiction wrapped up as fact, links to websites that have as much foundation in journalism as the Swami of Pastrami had in the Dark Arts.

It’s fun to be entertained by these things. I admit it. But I can instantly tell that The Onion is not a real news site. It’s hilarious parody, but if you quote it as real news, I will first take you to task, and next, I will smite your ass on Facebook and then promptly unfriend you in the most public way since you need to be fanny-slapped for your outright stupidity.

Please don’t spread your sh** around the barn. The animals are loose already and no one needs to be stepping in your crap, especially when it’s being sold as snake oil. I ain’t buying. Too smart.

In the Emerald City, damned glad I learned critical thinking and research in my school days (thanks Dr. Kruegel and Mr. Eaton),

  • Robb


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