The importance of objectivity


John Vassiliou, Editor

You are being misled. Not in an obvious way, most of the time not even purposely, but it is happening to you all the time. In the news, in teaching, or in passing conversations, everything can be deceiving and the only way to get around it is to constantly question what you’re being told.

I’m not saying that you should be turning yourself into a mini-philosopher, or even to be nit-picky about everything, I’m just telling you to analyze what you hear. When someone says something that sounds slanted, biased, or just plain incorrect, take a minute to think.

Just thinking for a moment will give you the upper hand. It will let you establish control over the conversation and allow your head to mediate anything that comes through it. Soon, you’ll naturally be picking out the important and slanted stuff without even realizing it. People start these conversations, or lead into them, with the need for control. If you can subconsciously strip them of that, then you are the one who is truly in control.

The greatest example of misleading information comes from the news cycles. Now, before you start getting out on your soapbox about me calling out “fake news,” just hear me out for a minute. I think that the term “fake news” is taken too literally. The reason such a large number of people look at the news with animosity is not because they are presenting false facts (though instances of incorrect information is something that is always going to slip into a story here and there) but because they are attempting to mislead the reader into one narrow channel of thinking.

This is inherent in news stations and publications left and right. If you look over on Fox News, they are more than willing to use a tragedy like the Mollie Tibbetts murder to hardline their agenda on immigration, while CNN is also willing to use a school shooting to do the same with gun control. No matter where you stand on the issues, you should be able to determine that what both sides do under these circumstances are egregious and that they are using emotional appeal to clinch a quick victory for their side.

News sites do this by presenting only what they want you to see, filling your head with nothing but the constant bombardment from their side shouting down folks who think differently as “uncaring” or “evil” something we can’t live with if we intend to be a civil society.

You will never find a 100% unbiased news story, no matter how hard you may try to look. The best thing you can do is read the whole story and read all of the sources. Ask yourself, why did they choose this person as a source? Why have I seen the same story this many times? Why have they become invested in this story? What are all of the facts in the story, not just the headline? Why did they bury that in the bazillionth paragraph?

Bias is something inherent in the world. The idea of the unbiased person or news station is not a reality, but there is a solution: openness about opinion, objectivity, and encouraging the reader to think for themselves. Even if you don’t agree with what I may be saying right now, at least I got you thinking.