Garbage in – garbage out.

I wrote yesterday about the importance of feeding your mind with nourishing information.

It’s so important to be discerning about where your news is coming from and in this day and age of click-bait and “selling” eyeballs.  I am fond of using old sayings and aphorisms because of the simple truth they hold and one that applies here is “You get what you pay for”. Surely we all know by now that if the news is free, we viewers are the ones being sold.

Back in the old days (the 60s and 70s), we sat and watched the 6 o’clock news and it was mostly the same across the 3 or 4 channels we had then. Australia was famously conservative and the channels mostly reflected this in their news broadcasts. There were advertisements certainly, but they were usually from car manufacturers or national brands. It was solid grown-up stuff for the adults in the room, for the most part, nothing controversial. Even the opinion pieces by now legendary social commentators such as Ita Buttrose and Barbara Bowers towed the line. The ABC was always slightly left-leaning, usually leading the charge to represent a balanced view because it was never worried about ticking off advertisers.

With the introduction of pay-for-view television, naturally, the biases and opinions of the broadcasters affect the content, with very rare exceptions. This is even more prevalent and insidious with free news platforms and forums such as Facebook. Everyone knows the news programs they prefer and will generally stick with that simply because it agrees with their worldview.

Sam Harris recently interviewed political scientist Ian Bremmer and one particular line really stood out to me. He quoted a survey that showed that over the last 12 months many conservative voters in the US had come to believe the assertion by Fox News that the FBI was not to be trusted. Within a year, many patriotic Americans had come to believe that the very agency in charge of investigating over 200 different categories of violations related to national security and federal law was in fact in collusion with the leftist parties.

If nothing else, this is a testament to the importance of being careful what we take in. It is also an incredible example of neuro-plasticity. You can change people’s minds, even strongly held views, if you feed them the information often enough and in a compelling manner that fits their worldview.

If we want to remain current, open-minded and informed we need to take in our information from as many different sources as possible and consider paying for subscriptions to national news services, buying newspapers and reading widely on platforms like Medium and Quora. We owe it to ourselves and our children to keep our eyes and minds open.

What are you feeding your mind?

I’m listening to this awesome podcast – Design Matters with Debbie Millman

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