“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast“
The History of The Alternative Media
The alternative media is now a market, and like all markets they are mined for dollars. Essentially with the advent of video cameras, and website blogs, everybody has become a potential journalist. This has sparked a wave of “citizen journalists” who spend all night filling internet blogs with credible and not-so-credible information at the click of a keyboard. At one time alternative media was somewhat truthful and credible, but it shifted towards speculation and hear-say in the early 2000’s when web masters and bloggers behind some of the biggest alternative media websites figured out this equation right here;
Speculative Drivel = $$$
In industry terms this is called, “click-bait.” For those who aren’t savvy on the internet this means a news headline on your Facebook feed, or on a website that is titled in such a provocative or outrageous way people feel a compulsion to click out of pure curiosity. These “articles” also sport outlandishly Photoshoped images that grab your eyes in addition to the headline.
If you have half-a-clue you realize quickly the internet has become inundated with websites trafficking in outright lies, misrepresentations of facts, speculative political foreshadowing, party pandering, and gimmicky “survivalist” products and cure-alls. For the conspiracy minded it is not the feds “dis-info” programs who did this, no you can thank the un-ethical, un-principled, and misguided webmasters and website editors that traffic and syndicate alternative news now days.
So many have compromised the truth for money, every square inch of these websites are packed with ads. When you click through all the mailer opt-ins, pop up ads and finally scroll to the body text you see it is just another article that causes fear and panic speculating on a economic collapse or something. But hey don’t worry because there is an ad, conveniently embedded in the article text featuring a backpack full of survivalist gear when you buy 1 years worth of storable food.
In a test scenario picture these two headlines and think which do you suppose will generate more traffic and ad clicks, and would result in more commission from advertisers? “Dow Jones drops 400 points in Wall Street Loss” OR “Wall Street Loses Create Market Pandemonium” Of course the 2nd title will get more clicks, and seeing that the website is loaded with BUY GOLD ads the incentive to run the economic collapse headline is to tempting to pass up for most webmasters.
So the question is, if the alternative media is exploiting people’s fear in the same way that the Mainstream Media does it, then ask, are either trustworthy sources of news? No they are not are they!
So how do we determine what is factual as opposed to preditorial click-baiting people while they’re surfing the internet? Good question Right?
Now I could just give you a giant list of websites who are continually guilty of these tactics but I won’t. This is because simply I don’t even want to give them credit, I am not here to spread manure, but to educate on how to determine credibility of a news story.
Here is a list of 5 ways to avoid being bamboozled by blogger charlatans.
Let’s be honest as long as there is open access to the internet by everyone and anyone, you can bet, half-baked conspiracy theories of all types will exist. What we can do is not reward them with a “like”, a “share” or email blast. Here are the quick-tip 5 ways to begin to discern fact from truth when dealing with the internet and alternative media.
The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. Proverbs 14:18
Remember, headlines are written to grab your attention. Getting you to click on the link is the primary intention behind writing a gotcha headline. Facts aside, and article content aside a click is a click and however a webmaster can get it they will. Lacing headlines with over the top spin, fear-mongering, disingenuous conclusions, vague and ambiguous statements, pseudo facts, biased opinions, and provocative declarations is what creates traffic. These type of links and headlines generate 10’s of thousands of clicks; and more clicks means more money. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are almost believable. To know for sure you must first learn to source the article for evidence.
Always Follow Links Back to the Original Source
There are four types of news junkies, the foolish just read the headlines and assume they know that it is factual and then proceed to spam it to everyone they have an email for. The second type just skims the article then proceeds to spam it out, the third type kind of reads the article and withholds judgment just a little bit before they proceed to shovel it off to their facebook feed. The last kind actually reads the article digests its content, looks at the arguments logically, reads the sourced material links if there are some then follows the links and reads those too. If you don’t know, here is a hint, ALWAYS be the fourth guy.
Scan those articles for links, check each paragraph for logical fallacy arguments, look for eye-witness quotes, determine if there is evidence based facts that can be attested to and linked up by credible sources. It doesn’t matter if the news outlet is politically biased and slanted, what you need are sources for real documents, eye-witness testimony, and unedited footage and images. It is not the messenger it is always the message. If you don’t find these things, and instead just see a string of paragraphs jumping from conclusion to conclusion without any links to credible sources then you know it is drivel.
Sometimes you have to follow links back two or three levels deep, then other times you literally have to Google search a piece of headline or link and try to find the original source of some statement or supposed fact. Keep looking until you find it. If you can’t find that source then it is a total fabrication and not worth your time to give any thought to it further. If people can’t take the time to link up a statement, then they aren’t interested in the truth.
Look for Primary Sourced and Credible Material
The order of credibility is pretty easy to establish when determining if something is true. Is there a credible witness or whistleblower quoted who can prove their credentials and back up their facts with evidence? Are there official documents, studies, and physical evidence towards any claims that can be linked too? Who is the expert analyst being referenced and quoted, what is their findings and what are their credentials; is that person biased or a paid shill? Is there room for any of these things to be faked or trumped up beyond what they truly are, or what the evidence can conclude? You just have to work to become internet savvy and learn to dig for evidence when on the internet.
Look for a Multitude of Credible Reporting Outlets
If you’re not sure whether something is true or not, Google the headline. See if other outlets are carrying that information or story. If it is being reported on by multiple mainstream sources then more than likely it is truly a breaking story or credible news worthy event. So many times you will Google something and find there is only one highly questionable website running that story. That is a big tip off to the fact that it is click-bait and worthless information.
Use Some Common Sense…Please
I am willing to bet an “Asteroid won’t hit the earth and ignite the atmosphere on fire”, I am thinking there are not “50,000 Russian troops in Canada waiting to invade the US”, I simply don’t believe “Obama has a grey alien commanding his Secret Service”, if “ISIS smuggled a nuclear bomb across the Mexican border” I guess we’re all screwed but astronomically unlikely to say the least. Common sense will get you a long way on the internet, learning to be discerning, and reserving judgment until further investigation is always going to benefit your understanding, so just default to that position. It amazes me how people make long-term, life-changing decisions for themselves and their families based on a slew of trendy, and highly suspect information.
We have become a informational covetous society. The social media culture has incentivized collective spamming and we have become addicted to the shares, likes and notoriety being the first to share breaking news or trending tidbits with friends. Being a news junkie has become a perpetually competitive atmosphere, and being perceived as someone in-the-know by friends and family is a ego boost too enticing to pass up for some. This thirst for gossip is a sickness, it has become the source of the prideful spirit behind so much of today’s phone and internet obsession.
So just as a reminder always remember your worldview and decision making process are based on the information you feed yourself. Is your worldview based around illogical, speculative, conspiratorial content? OR is it backed up by well sourced, evidence based, principled and well reasoned structures of thought? How you determine this one fact will determine a lot in your life, mainly how happy you are, whether you feel in control of your situation and your future. If you feed the fear and paranoia to an extreme you can count on the fact you will lose friends, family and even yourself as you give up on dreams and passions in favor of running to the nearest hole in the ground with your bug-out-bag.
I suggest you learn as fast as you can how to determine what are real conspiracies, real news stories, real historical facts, real scientific truths and what are outright lies and half-truths. The sooner you can do this, the sooner you can begin to take back control of your life and future. We knock the mainstream media but hey at least the mainstream media still has some journalistic standards and will provide the source of the material they report on. I often will skip over a article from a blog source and wait for the mainstream to report on it, because if it is newsworthy it will get reported on. Now the mainstream may not connect the dots as to the larger conspiracy but at least the story get’s told alongside credible sourced material when it does. Just be discerning at all times is the point!
Don’t be like Alice and tumble down the rabbit-hole only to hit your head on every half-baked conspiracy theory on the way down. Most people that tumble down the rabbit hole become fear-based and paranoid individuals and no amount of reasoning can snap them out of that mind-set. If there is a conspiracy, then prove it, prove it to yourself and prove it to the world if you can, otherwise save yourself the embarrassment and keep those speculations to yourself. Multiple sources and proofs has always been the Biblical standard, it would behoove us all to apply this same truth to our media consumption as well.
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. John 8:17
Article reposted with permission from Wake the Church.