Finding Reliability in an Unreliable Campaign
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 22:10
Have you ever seen this following quote?
"Why should women be paid equal to men? Men have been in the working world a lot longer and deserve to be paid at a higher rate. Heck, I'm a working mom and I've not paid a dime. I depend on my husband to provide for me and my family, as should most women...and if a woman does work, she should be happy just to be out there in the working world and quit complaining that she's not making as much as her male counterparts. I mean really, all this wanting to be equal nonsense is going to be detrimental to the future of women everywhere. Who's going to want to hire a woman, or for that matter, even marry a woman who thinks she is the same, if not better than a man at any job. It's almost laughable. C'mon now ladies, are you with me on this"
Social network sites blew up with this supposed Ann Romney statement after the presidential debate on Oct. 3. Attacks on the Romney family were numerous and scathing, with most young people condemning the candidate.
However a simple Google search reveals that the quote was written on Free Wood Post, a popular spoof news website similar to The Onion. The site includes a disclaimer that states "Free Wood Post is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within FreeWoodPost.com are fiction, and presumably fake news."
This election is split down the middle with those who do not care to vote and others who are violently active. Sadly, the latter is constantly bombarded with false or fabricated information that inevitably affects their decisions.
Consider the controversy over President Obama's citizenship that plagued him during the 2008 election. Even today the issue is difficult to decipher due to the myriad of misleading articles and hate blogs. Students are able to fact-check these points through Suffolk resources such as the Law School Library. In the journal article “Citizens Disunited” by Steven Winter, several events are cited concerning Obama releasing information on his birth.
This can also be solved through common sense: how could someone who was not eligible to be president run in the face of the legislative branch and the Supreme Court? He would not have made it to the candidacy if he was not a citizen.
It's an odd phenomenon. Children in elementary school are taught to be careful on the Internet and not believe everything they read. So why is it when politics are concerned every web site is supposedly displaying hard facts? Social media makes it too easy for people to be misinformed; users are quick to believe what their friends and those they follow post. Instead they must consider that the person may have found faulty information and should therefore do a little research before posting their misinformation for the world as a way to broadcast their gullible personality.
Of course there are people who see a post or hear a quote and are skeptical. They then go to Google, type in some words and click on the first link. This does not count as research! First, all web sites are not reliable. Look for an unbiased ".org"/ “.net” (this can be found in the “About” section or through searching the web master) or a reliable newspaper such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Wikipedia.org does not count. On the web site there is a disclaimer that states “Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields.”
Google also overwhelms users with useless blogs and paid advertisements. Google Scholar, on the other hand, restricts its links to certified journals, books and articles. Other online fact checking sites are http://www.factcheck.org/ and http://www.snopes.com/ (while snopes is a ".com" site, it does cite all of its myths back to the original source).
A little research goes a long way. Having a solid basis for your opinions keeps you from sounding ignorant.