Thursday, January 20, 2005

How Do We Know?

How do we know the things we know? We experience it for ourselves and should we be unable to do that, we are dependent on other people. Some of those people will be eye witnesses to what happened. They will likely be reporters whose task it is to give us a sense of what happened. In short, mass media has the task of informing us about what is happening when we can't experience it personally.

Over time, the mass media has changed its role. It no longer has a primary task of giving us information that we need, but instead are giving us information that we want. As a consequence we all have to find an adequate replacement for what we need to know.

At times and in certain places there are media that come closer to keeping us informed. An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer gives us some idea that there is a problem. This article relates events that took place during the presidential debates and immediately after. For example: "The candidates understood that their misleading claims would draw less scrutiny than the latest attacks and counterattacks or their speaking and management styles. That's why the Kerry/Edwards campaign seemed to feel no remorse in its constant assertions that the Iraq war cost $200 billion, an exaggeration of $80 billion at the time. That's why President Bush repeatedly made the false accusation that Kerry's plan would 'nationalize' American health care."

Our best method to help the media make better decisions is to support them when they do things we require. Don't support them when they don't. They make their profits on the creation and maintenance of large audiences. Keep that in mind.

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