02 Mar How To Check Your Facts Amid A Global War Crisis
How To Check Your Facts Amid A Global War Crisis
Given all the wild news and rhetoric we saw during the US presidential elections and Covid-19 pandemic, you would think people are adept at filtering out fake news and knowing which sources to trust.
And yet, it has become increasingly difficult to discern which sources are good and which are bad. While Rand Rescue is preparing some information on the Ukrainian crisis and 2022 Budget Speech, we thought we’d remind our readers how to wade through the waters of false media in the interim.
Why it’s important to check your sources
We all want to make decisions and form opinions based on fact, and yet there is probably no single person on earth who is unbiased – we are simply geared to seek information which affirms our views.
While confirmation bias may have been prevalent since the dawn of mankind, modern media is like a parasite which thrives on algorithm. Whether you’re using a search engine or navigating through social media, you are bound to get information which is specifically focused on your interests or those interests of the groups you frequent or interact with.
While many sites claim to use algorithms to present you with information which is most relevant to your interests, the fact remains that this data is also used by Facebook, Twitter, Google and other networks for sales. Anyone who wants to target a certain audience can access analytical data and target groups based on their usages and interests.
Erasing past data
While ‘hiding’ certain adverts provides data to social media providers, this does not actually erase or remove companies, groups or topics relevant to such posts, and tech giants are quite smart at hiding those places where users can remove connections. Likewise, although users can erase historical data and cookies from their browsers, they need to manage how specific sites use their data and determine which sites are whitelisted or blacklisted.
Internet users need to understand that the platforms they use are governed broadly by international convention, but are controlled quite vehemently by the nations which fund them and/or where the platforms or services are based.
As was evident when the EU launched the GDPR, any site owners, sellers, media outlets, search engines or social media providers need to conform to local norms. In contrast to POPIA which is mostly aimed at safeguarding individuals, the GDPR is quite vehemently opposed to international interference or influence on a local group.
Former US President Trump seemed to have the same idea when forcing Google to choose between the USA and its purported foes when he demanded that Google and the Google Play store no longer be available for Chinese tech giant Huawei. And Google complied.
Sanctions and restrictions are, of course, not always bad things. These are necessary for keeping tirants in check at times, and yet sanctions are often applied due to unchecked political hubris without uniform or consistent policy. As readers of this blog, we assume that you are eager to know truth from fact and not keen on reinforcing your own preconceived notions. We are not a clickbait blog. We do not want to misinform. Whoever engages with us as client needs to know that we are always in pursuit of the truth.
Our assertion about censorship, from an unbiased stance, is therefore that it is applied globally by many nations and that those who rally against censorship are also often those who reinforce it. Many of the global ladies doth protest too much.
How to get your hands on solid news
Search engines and social media platforms DO control information, but if the platforms you have are the only tools available, there are tips for getting better information.
Always search for the opposite
If you believe a certain thing, or have been told a certain fact, always do a search for the exact opposite.
If you believe cats are all orange. Then search for “no cats are orange” and compare the results of both sets (or multiple sets) of results.
Search engines and social media platforms are set up to indulge your interests and tastes. They want to give you exactly what you ask for. You need to ask for the opposite to get these results.
Use a VPN
While VPNs have mainly been employed to mask IP addresses for those who want to stream media of late, they have other uses.
A VPN allows you to mask your geographical location and ‘virtually’ roam the globe to check search results in different regions and from sources which wouldn’t necessarily reach you locally.
Move outside your comfort zone
We are used to engaging with our peers – whether our generation, culture, religion, political affiliation or other ideologies. Understanding the oddity of TikTok may be strange for older generations, but you will never know the views of other people unless you explore new spaces for engagement or hear out other generations/cultures.
Immerse yourself in conversations on Reddit, Youtube, Discord (if you’re brave enough) and even Stack Exchange or other coding hubs to hear how information is sculpted and formed. Watch what people post on Instagram and Twitter. Find social media hubs in other regions and see how people engage and what they feel and experience as a bystander.
Learn how to read data and vet academic publications
Those who have navigated the strange and often stifling arena of academic and scientific publication understand the difference between publications.
While many mainstream media platforms love to use academic paper headlines as clickbait, few writers read through to the end to see the conclusion of hypotheses. It is crucial to read through the data and information you cite as a source to determine whether it is valid.
Additionally most anyone can post a paper online or on academic platforms, but papers are usually posted without academic oversight, and thesis – in contrast – are often carefully structured and informed by the individuals or institutions who lead the students. For the most part, getting clearance for publishing a particular research paper of body of research is barred even before the research can be undertaken.
Read up on the difference between quantitative and qualitative research, and which is most important.
For instance: a group of doctors discovered incidences of heart disease amongst Covid-19 vaccinated youths and found a link between the two. In the wake of this research the world realised that these doctors had deliberately tested hospitalised youths for specific diseases. Youths who had never been tested before, and also excluding a broader audience. The only thing they proved is that most people don’t have access to testing for serious diseases unless testing is funded and demanded by other entities.
Sadly, mental health and cognitive issues affect everyone – even the most intelligent among us. Furthermore, bias is not suddenly eliminated through academic achievement.
Before believing the information at hand, check the credentials, history and credibility of the persons or people whose scientific or other knowledge you want to support. Also research the connections between the publishers, institutions, authors, scientists and/or groups being studied.
Check the sites you visit through media bias checkers – use more than one checker to compare results. Checking sites themselves can be biased as well.
Read our next blog for more
We’re working hard on giving you unbiased information and input into the Ukraine crisis, South Africa’s economic status and other matters, so stay tuned for these.
In the meantime, leave your details if you need help with your cross border finance.
The Government of the Republic of South Africa, 2022. Encouraging South African households to save more for retirement. Retrieved 27 February from https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_speech/budget%20speech-%20summary.pdf
The National Treasury of the Republic of South Africa (2022). #RSABudget2022 Highlights. Retrieved 27 February from, http://www.treasury.gov.za/documents/national%20budget/2022/sars/Budget%202022%20Highlights.pdf
Budget speech review 2022. (2022). Retrieved 27 February 2022, from https://www.moneyweb.co.za/financial-advisor-views/budget-speech-review-2022/
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