Misinformation

Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of the United States of America, wrote in 1807, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”

He advised against reading news: “I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.” [Source.]

I avoid reading and watching news like the plague. Something inside told me that it is generally toxic. I came to that realization since I became capable of critical reasoning. And now seeing the absolute disaster that the mainstream media is, I feel that I had the right instincts in avoiding news.

I watch with a mixture of horror, disgust and amusement the addiction some of my friends and acquaintances have to newspapers and news channels. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

But of course, we do need to know what’s happening around the world. The internet is an inexhaustible source of information that matters. There are uncountable sources in all formats such as text, audio, video and graphics available at our fingertips. Thank goodness. You have to exercise judgement, of course, since misinformation is also available by the truckloads.

I came across this video explaining why people are hesitant to trust the media. It is not trustworthy any more.

BTW, that Mark Twain quote at the top of this post — If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed — is a misattribution. He did write that “Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth.” Figure that out.

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

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