Monday, January 30, 2012

Seeking to understand other perspectives

An editorial in the StarTribune begged the question "Higher ed leans left. But why? And so what?".

My immediate reaction was, why naturally academics lean to the left. Scholars tend to be well educated and inquisitive, why wouldn't they believe in things like evolution and global warming? However I also know and believe that there are many bright, caring and capable conservatives, who are not all easily painted with one big brush.

This editorial quotes social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who observed "Our shared values make it difficult for us to entertain alternative hypotheses... We humans are experts at using reasoning to find evidence for whatever conclusions we want to reach. We are terrible at searching for contradictory evidence."

The growing choice of unfiltered media outlets provide opportunities for people to gather "news" that fits with their values and political leanings.  If we are sincere about gaining a balanced and informed view of the world I would suggest it is critical for us to explore outlets that provide differing views from our natural inclinations. So rather than just listening, reading or viewing news sources that cater to our beliefs we stretch and grow by listening to differing perspectives.  So folks who usually just watch FOX news might benefit from viewing MSNBC and vice versa.

While it is valuable to get news from varying sources, it is also important to check the validity of information we receive, especially over the internet.  One source to check on the truth of urban legends is Snopes.com. I'm thankful for news sources, such as National Public Radio, that provide extensive, well grounded reporting.

1 comment:

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