Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Are We Being Blinded by Bias?

My name is Eli Hainsworth, and about a week ago, I found myself doing something I never thought that I would do. I found myself defending 20% of Trump Supporters:

That headline is the mother lode for any person looking for the final nail in their "Trumps supporters are all racist" narrative. It was a statistic that was too good to be true.
Most people wouldn't bother to read very far into the article, because they already have what they want. But as I read deeper, I noticed something:

The survey was designed to bring the person taking it to agree with the fact that a President overstepping his authority was wrong. This is a statement almost everyone would reasonably agree with. However, the survey points out that the Emancipation Proclamation was such a call. The survey was designed to measure how much people were willing to betray a claim they had just espoused, and Trump supporters actually proved that they stuck to their guns more than any other group. 

But we got this:

Although usually this advent of a misbehaving headline hiding a completely different article is harmless, sometimes the misrepresentation of info can have disastrous results. We have a nation of people who read page one and then put the newspaper down forever:

The anti-vaccine movement is a good example:

Although there was only one, now-outdated study declaring the false link, articles with large and terrifying headlines such as "What's being injected into YOUR children?" keep the idea alive. Despite the hype, the evidence is scant.

Why won't such ideas die? Ideas can wither while young, but, like trees, the winds that may knock them down also build resistance. Ideas that are often challenged but stubbornly held onto create deep roots.

This is reinforced by the advent of the internet, which allows us to build our own echo chambers. When low quality ideas are shared, the sewage system turns into something like this:

The solution to getting rid of bad information is giving it a short lifespan. Ghandi said "Truth alone will endure, the rest will be swept away by the tide of time.

Our job is to keep the river clean. The best way to do that is to simply stop talking about bad ideas and untruths. Without an audience, these ideas die.


  1. You had me hooked from the start. Great use of images and very cleverly done as always. The way information is being packages to us is changing. The clickbait summaries you get on your Facebook feed are not what's really going on. This is an interesting topic. Maybe continue to talk about how even if the articles are never opened, the headlines do enough damage on their own.

  2. I agree with you. I don't necessarily agree with Donald Trump or what the news article you used was about, but your argument isn't really about that. You've argued about misinformation. Living in a developing nation my whole life, I've seen this first hand. The lack of communication and proper representation of information has scarred the millennial culture. We've resorted to a "he said, she said..." culture. Who are "he" and "she" though?
    - Buzzfeed?
    - Fox News?
    - Huffington Post?
    - Self-made opinion articles and videos?
    - Blogs?

    The world has resorted to ignorance and biased beliefs. The world doesn't seem to read both sides of the argument anymore. I wonder how many teenagers have ever logged into the Wall Street Journal and read financial news, or gone to Barnes and Noble and bought a history book for their own reading?

    I would say those numbers are exceptionally low... and that is where the strength of your argument resides.

  3. Excellent topic! I was captured by your personal story but I was confused as to the thesis of your topic until close to the end of your writing. Try to state more clearly the main point while sharing your personal story. I liked your connection to the anti-vaccine movement as that is a very contemporary issue that most people have been involved with.

  4. EXCELLENT concept, although as a reader I would appreciate a bit more fleshing-out in the call-to-action/concluding point section.