lies, darn lies, statistics, etc. on the Internet. Part 4
Lessons to be learned. Solutions.
What are the lessons to be learned?
There is a massive gap between conservative religious information sources and secular information sources about many topics.
The greatest conflict involve topics that have some connection with human sexuality.
Few such gaps exist between liberal faith groups and secular information sources.
Before trusting any information source on topics related to human sexuality, we recommend that you either:
- Compare conservative religious web sites with secular web sites and attempt to harmonize their differences yourself; or
- Visit web sites like the one you are on now that attempt to objectively compare religious and secular information sources.
Suggestions for improving accuracy on the Internet and other media:
- Change fact checking agencies: There are specialist agencies that attempt to expose misinformation, disinformation, and lying on the Internet and other media. Unfortunately, most are are either liberal agencies that concentrate their attacks on the conservative politicians and media, or conservative agencies that concentrate their attacks on the liberal politicians and media.
A further complication is that the public itself is also highly polarized between liberals and conservatives. Many liberals ignore the conservative media including conservative fact checking agencies, while many conservatives ignore the liberal media including liberal fact checking agencies.
One solution would be to have liberal fact checking agencies widen their scope to occasionally include criticial analyses of liberal media, and to have conservative fact checking agencies widen their scope to occasionally include criticial analyses of conservative media.
- Encourage dialogue: There is immense polarization between professional associations in the mental health field -- psychiatric, psychological, counseling, etc. -- and conservative faith groups. This is particularly true in the area of sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion access. There is surprisingly little actual dialogue going in between and among these groups. That is to be expected because dialogue requires each participant to recognize that there is a finite possibility that they many be wrong and that the other side may be right, or that both may be wrong. Dialogue requires a strong dedication to seeking the truth -- a difficult assignment because the two groups typically have a strong dedication to their own beiefs and use different definitions of "truth." One side depends mostly on observation and studies; the other side tends to depend on their group's interpretation of passages from their holy texts that they often believe is preserved from error by God.
- Encourage "baloney detecting" courses in schools: A helpful move might be to train students at the high school and college level in analytical skills to help them compare and contrast different belief systems, detect misinformation and disinformation, to recognize their own biases, to recognize how bias can be built into public opinion polls, etc. A useful addition to their mathematics courses might be a brief course in statistical methods and terminology used by polling agencies, including mean, median, margin of error, etc.
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUL-13
Latest update: 2012-JUL-13
Author: B.A. Robinson