Let’s ignore the election together.

The nice part of being in school right now is that you do not have the time or energy to waste looking into election coverage too closely. Here is something to consider, though: some of the same things that can make you a better student and writer will make you a better voter.

Knowing politicians' platforms and intentions is important, but in order to do that you need to be able distinguish good information from bad information. Here are some hints:

  • Information isn’t good because it agrees with you
  • Information isn’t bad because it disagrees with you

Being able to tell good information from bad is key for any student or voter. People like information that agrees with their opinions. Often, we think that if we accept a particular fact, we have to change our opinion. The downside of this is that we often become liars to protect an idea or opinion.

For example, decades of research show that no matter how you slice it, women have fewer car accidents than men do. Some sexists are so attached to the idea that must be superior, they pretend this fact is simply not true and they create tangled stories or paranoid fantasies about why the truth is not true.

Good information comes from reliable sources. Most peer reviewed articles and newspapers like The New York Times are more reliable sources.

Good information states narrow facts. “Women have fewer traffic accidents and get fewer tickets,” not “All men are terrible drivers.”

Headlines always lie, or at least overstate. Even in high quality, reliable news sources, the headlines are usually dishonest and sometimes outright lies. (There is usually a distinct department that headlines news stories.) It is best to ignore the headline entirely for content.


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