Mar 112010
 
Authors: Robyn Scherer

We live in a nation of so-called “independent” thinkers, yet it seems like there are few who actually do so. As a society, we tend to believe whatever someone says to us, even if there seems to be no factual basis for it.

We can watch a documentary, and suddenly we believe everything that we see. We can read a “news” article and think that every word is fact.

But this brainwashing seems to mostly relate to mainstream media. Movies, newspapers and magazines can get people to think some crazy things, and most people do not take the time to look up the facts.

Journalists have a responsibility to accurately report the news. But what some people see as accurate isn’t always.

As a society we tend to generalize things, and the media does the same thing. If we walk down the street and see one cop beat a citizen, we develop a negative attitude toward cops. What happened wasn’t right, but from that, we can’t assume that every cop beats citizens.

For instance let’s review something I talked about in a previous column, “Food Inc.” This “documentary” film has made many people believe that the practices shown are industry standard, when in fact they are not. Thankfully the movie did not win an Oscar, although the fact that it was even nominated is sad.

The status from one of my friend’s Facebook profile read, “I am appalled, angered and thoroughly disgusted by the corporations that have implemented a system within our society that is so incredibly damaging and dangerous to the health of the planet as a whole.”

This certain individual failed to do enough research and missed the fact that many farmers and ranchers take care of their land and animals better than people take care of their homes and children. Or that in order for people to survive, we will have to produce double the amount of food that we do today by the year 2050.

Another great example of this is with our current president, Barack Obama. Now, I’m not saying he was the main culprit in brainwashing people, but his campaign effectively did just that.

When people voted for him, they didn’t vote for him because they liked his platform. I’m betting at least 50 percent of those who voted for him didn’t even know what his platform contained. They saw the bandwagon and jumped on it.

It’s funny how things change though. Now people are jumping ship. The “Change We Could Believe In” has now turned into the “Change We Don’t Want, Stop Forcing It.”
How can you prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this brainwashing? There are several steps that you should take.

The first is to scrutinize everything that you see, hear and read that isn’t a first hand account. Now let’s not get ridiculous; if there is a study published in a peer reviewed medical journal, it is probably legitimate.

I’m talking about mainstream media and hearsay from those you know.

Next, I want you to think about the things you see, hear and read about and do a little research on the topic. I know this will take more time, but at least you will be informed and won’t sound like an ignorant prick when you try to talk to someone about something they know about.

When asked to document why we think a certain way, we say, “Well, I read it in” or “I saw it on” or “I heard it on … ” You rarely hear anyone say, “I believe this because of the research that I did on the topic.” You need to become this person.

Strive to educate yourself and quit being a sponge. You shouldn’t absorb everything that you hear.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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