Step One: Media Literacy

Mercury is making some impressive moves in the sky these days — in particular, an aspect to the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune alignment in Aquarius. This has potential on many levels; since Mercury is in Sagittarius, let’s take the wide view. Given the activity in Aquarius, let’s remember that we often communicate via electronic media — for example, you are reading this on the Internet.

Two of this week’s posts ask more questions than they do provide answers. The Hannity-Beck article from Monday night and yesterday’s video interviews with Sarah Palin book buyers seem to be leaving a lot of people wondering. To me they point to an old problem, which is a current problem: the need for media literacy. Simply put, watching TV is not enough. Reading newspapers is not enough.

But not enough for what? Well, enough to consider oneself well-informed. A lot has changed in media the past 30 years since a book called The Powers That Be documented the rise of the 20th century media giants — things like CBS, the Washington Post and The New York Times. Until the time of Ronald Reagan, these were indeed the dominant forces in the media. At times, they were incredibly influential, even powerful. Major newspapers were influential in bringing down Nixon (Woodward and Bernstein’s work at WP), in ending the Vietnam War (the Times’ coverage of the Pentagon Papers), and in many other positive developments of the 1970s.

Then three things happened.

1. Media consolidation. A tiny number of massive corporations control most of what you see, read and hear — companies like News Corporation, which reaches into 96% of U.S. households. When this was picking up momentum in the late ’80s and into the ’90s, many of us were extremely concerned — and many of our worst fears have proven to be valid. Other giants are Disney, Viacom, and Time Warner. This has happened in small ways, as well. Fifteen years ago, every city had an independently owned alternative weekly newspaper, which could respond to its community’s needs and was usually controlled by local business interests. Now, publishing groups have bought up most of these small community papers. They sort of look the same — but are they?

2. Cable/satellite television. There used to be seven channels. Then came cable and then came satellite service. This has made TV more pervasive, while making the viewpoints only nominally more diverse. Around the clock news channels have more time to fill; and they usually fill it with trivia. There are now so many televisions it would make George Orwell proud. Get in a cab, an elevator or go to pee in a hotel in many cities and you’re watching TV. Yet cable has also made possible phenomena such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who provide some of the most interesting analysis on TV — and they are doing it on Comedy Central.

3. The Internet. This is the first public media where users can contribute. With some basic skills and something to say (or not), you can create your own “channel.” This is one of the greatest developments in the history of our society, that is, if you want a diversity of viewpoints. The problem is that anyone really can say anything, and this is used as fodder to give the big networks more alleged credibility.

The result of all of this combined is that readers and viewers are confronted with a jungle of possibilities, but with no special skills to navigate; to tell truth from deception; to discern the agenda of a particular publisher; or even to now who, exactly, is setting that agenda or why.

This is a big topic, and I am here mainly to state the problem rather than present an immediate solution — and that problem is the need for media literacy. Just like you don’t learn to read overnight, you don’t acquire media literacy overnight — but it helps to have good sources, and it helps to ask the right questions.

I will give you an example of how powerful media literacy is: take a look at the Yes Men. They get it. Other sources for those devoted to promoting media literacy are Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), an organization I’ve worked with a number of times; Adbusters, which critiques the advertising environment and the psychology of media; and Left Business Observer by Doug Henwood, which looks not only at the media but at also at the concepts that are tossed around there, and many other topics.

My own sense is that we need to convey specific media literacy skills — like fact-checking and understanding how to understand and work with viewpoint. Planet Waves is a place where everyone who works gets to explore and develop those skills, though I think we can do a lot more in this conversation. Our readers asked many of the right questions in the reply to the Hannity-Beck piece — such as how do you know something is true?

A very good question. Let’s keep asking it.

27 thoughts on “Step One: Media Literacy”

  1. Who actually admits to being a “liberal”? You will never hear me describe myself that way.

    I was sitting at the dinner table with a group of friends several Fridays ago, and one of them said, “you know what, by god, I am a socialist.” He’s already a gay man living deep in the Bible Belt, so I guess beng a socialist wasn’t that frightening a prospect.

    Nobody at the table invoked the Apocalypse, anyway.

  2. I think the comments to Kathi probably drove her away, when in fact she was reaching out.

    I’m going to “agree to disagree” with you (and Fe) about that.


    Morgana, I am still in a dialog with her. She was never a contributor to this page.

  3. Now we are talking a political theory. The federal government is WAAAAYYYYY over its stated power in the Constitution.

    And the same PACs fund nearly all the congressional reps.

  4. When we go to the polls, we are still selecting from a set of values. What i find is that republicans tend to do exactly what they say they will do – good, bad or ugly. Democrats talk a good talk and propose lots of nice things, but the follow-through isn’t always there or maybe the votes aren’t there. I voted for Ron Paul – but the media brushed him off with the swipe of the hand, making fun of his ideas which were almost entirely based in the constitution. If you worked for federal government you would be shocked at the waste and stupidity (no you wouldn’t). Most things can be taken care of at the state level – and that is where most of our tax dollars should be spent – not on the 150,000 a year salaries that they pay out left and right at the federal level.

  5. Well democrats and republicsns then….? At my work no-one would admit to being a republican, but 8 years ago they would have. Things have changed a lot.

  6. What today we call “liberal” and “conservative” are not equal or equivalent values. It is not a matter of what one supposedly thinks of the other, or what one has allegedly done to the other. In that version of the world, you would need to account for projection. In the Sarah Palin video, there was the guy who said that the way things are going, there won’t be an election of 2012.

    Which is funny because he missed the fact that there wasn’t an election in 2000 or 2004, in any meaningful sense of the concept. For those concerned about the 2004 election, we had historically-grounded reasons: a stolen election; a false flag terrorist attack; the PATRIOT Act; weapons grade anthrax turning up in the mailboxes of journalists and congressional reps; a war; another war; the prospect of a third war; creepy-crawl warrants; spying on Americans as spies without the consent of the FISA court; and Wally O’Dell promising to “deliver the electoral votes” in Ohio, which was frightening given that his Ohio-based company, Diebold, had manufactured the electronic voting machines being used by much of the country.

    All of this was in support of the “conservative” agenda. So for a “conservative” to see a “liberal” as an “evildoer” and to predict that “the way things are going there won’t be an election in 2012” is more than a little mixed up. It is sick.

    What we call “liberals” don’t get the chance to do evil. Bill Clinton was not a liberal and neither is Barack Obama. On a true political scale, they are right of center, at best. But if we are saying that a liberal is someone who supports welfare, that is not the same as someone who supports bombing countries that were once our close friends (true of both Iraq and Afghanistan).

    We don’t understand this in the United States, where there is no actual liberal or leftist agenda at work. It the word liberal is merely a pejorative; a slur. Now, after these intractable wars, and the bank bailouts, it’s a way to say that someone is wasting money. On what? Who actually admits to being a “liberal”? You will never hear me describe myself that way. Unless of course you use Steve Colbert’s definition — that reality has a liberal bias. On “liberal” shows like Olbermann or Maddow, what I see night after night is fact-checking, irony and a critique of both Obama and the “republicans.” When I listen to Rush Limbaugh, what I hear are attacks and venomous lies. These are not equivalent values.

    “Conservative” is a meaningless term as well because so-called conservatives are not conserving anything; their Bill of Rights has one amendment, the 2nd; you are fine as long as you worship “free market” capitalism which by encyclopedia definition is corporatism (also known as fascism) because we live under a corporate state that is merged with the government.

    We don’t understand the words we use in political discourse and our civics class goes as far as three branches of government. We don’t understand that the president is a figurehead, and who exactly has read the Constitution? Which does not include the right of Dow Chemical to manufacture chemical weapons to be used on Vietnam and when it’s banned there, on forests in Oregon.

  7. What most liberals fail to grasp, is that in the eyes of a true conservative, a liberal is the evildoer. The perspective of each is blind to the other.

    I like stormilarue’s diamond example. If diamond is love, then what you create from within can only be love. If your diamond is hate, then woe to you and everyone else. I think the comments to Kathi probably drove her away, when in fact she was reaching out. Except for Fe – who was gracious as always. What a pity.

  8. I’m probably behind the curve again, but this work deserves a mention by name:

    Manufacturing Consent

    I stumbled across it a few years ago while in the mist of cult recovery, though it’s not directly related to that topic… … … or is it? :-}

  9. At some point it becomes healthy to consider a practice of accepting other people’s perspectives. Thanks Planet Waves for a forum that makes this possible.

    As with the discussion around Kathi’s piece about Fox, there is a meeting place where each person takes in perceived reality, fits it into their existing belief system (which has varying plasticity), and operates under those beliefs; while allowing others the same luxury.

    For me, the stuff that Fox news portrays as fair and balanced truth sounds downright toxic. However, if I take a step back from attachment to any particular outcome (a healthy planet that continues to support my family for generations to come, for example), I can allow the whole variety of opinions and lifestyles of humanity. The most important thing for me then becomes living in accordance with my own belief system, and continually walking my talk. This is challenging, and rewarding. I make mistakes and I learn, adjust, and repeat.

    What is interesting to me is watching this kaleidoscope of humanity weave and unravel. I watch the elements that appear toxic to me (senators voting for rape and slave labor, for example) and see that what I really crave is not ‘truth’, but awareness.

  10. We ‘parse’ reality by use of language. This, for starters, is artificial. It does have merit in the sense that we often can comprehend wholes by grasping the relations between the parts (this is how the brain operates – an understanding central to neuro-psychology).

    However, wholes are wholes, and the best that our brains can achieve is optimisation. What happens in practice, however, is that people are often fooled into believing that bonded fragments (which merely approximate, or resemble, wholes) are the wholes themselves – this is called reification (substituting our models for the realities they can only ever represent).

    Reification is why virtually all believers in ‘God’ become ‘idolaters’ according to their own avowed belief systems.. and fail to notice. They ‘worship’ their construct and equate this with their God. (Kant and Feuerbach here, for those interested).

    If someone were to ask you what is particularly noteworthy and significant about the background to The Mona Lisa, I can’t even hazard a guess to what they might say. The Mona Lisa is not simply the area of painting within her outline – the background is an intrinsic part of the whole – the background is, in a sense, her. When you think of The Mona Lisa, how do you perceive her?

    Now, if we imagined reality as a 1,000,000 piece jigsaw made up of 100 interconnected 10,000 piece jigsaws we’d have a good approximation of how our brains create pictures within pictures – and that our brain can approximate interconnected wholes within a whole, in order to extrapolate a framework picture, when there is information missing.

    So our brains are great problem solving machines – even when quality/significant info is missing, across several areas, our brains can produce accurate models. Paranoia becomes possible too, not on the basis of dysfunction but on missing crucial data. We are constantly tweaking our models (or should be) to account for missing data, anomalies etc. More than anything we need to make sense of key operational components that make up broader reality pictures (each having some kind of crux interpretum)

    All that said, it is often completely forgotten that no single brain is immune to miscalculation (a little like the observation that effective science requires a community to proceed meaningfully). Multiple processing on computers nowadays, illustrates what is a great help when it comes to number crunching capability – we need each others’ input too.

    So, even our best models are reifications. They have use, but we should ultimately hold onto them lightly and onto each other more tightly. Individuals will never find a totalitarian epistemology that isn’t fascist and that’s why we need each other to keep grounded.

    Believe in the models you have worked hard to fashion – as a best fit. DO NOT become hamstrung by them.

  11. The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart
    > 50* F (10* C)
    > Californians shiver uncontrollably.
    > Texans die of exposure.
    > Canadians plant gardens.
    > 35* F (1.6* C)
    > Italian Cars won’t start.
    > Canadians drive with the windows down.
    > 32* F (0* C)
    > American water freezes.
    > Canadian water gets thicker.
    > 0* F (-17.9* C)
    > New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
    > Canadians have the last cookout of the season.
    > -60* F (-51* C)
    > Mt. St. Helens freezes.
    > Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.
    > -100* F (-73* C)
    > Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
    > Canadians pull down their ear flaps.
    > -173* F (-114* C)
    > Ethyl alcohol Freezes.
    > Canadians get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg.
    > -460* F (-273* C)
    > Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.
    > Canadians start saying “cold, eh?”
    > -500* F (-295* C)
    > Hell freezes over.
    > The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

  12. Eric,

    I agree with all you say – it does seem elementary that were their fire, this is assumed a reality and I leave the hotel.

    On the other hand, when the fire alarm goes of on ongoing basis and there is no fire, eventually I ignore it. Good? Bad? In between? Missing information?

    I am not here to speak for Blink or its author nor as an athority on any topic upon which we touch at PW – only a lone blog responder who finds many subjects touched on here to be interesting.

    To add to our discussion — if my two year old son wants to put his hand in the fire the world would appear to be black and white — the answer it “no”.
    If my 16 year old son wants to have sex with his girlfriend – is the answer so clear? And how – these days – does one decide how to answer the situation?

    Is the hand in the fire a “snapshot” and the teenage sex a “situation”?

    While a picture may on the one hand be more emotionally valuable than a thousand words, is a single frame able to depict the situation from which it is taken? Might the situation speak of something greater than one single moment?

    My subjective reading of Blink gave me pause to contemplate this question. I did not contemplate the politics of its author. Doesn’t this tie into the recent blog discussions? My rationale is that I did not find the topic political nor did it seem to matter what the leanings of the author were. It comes with high recommendation, was well written and put together a fascinating group of news stories with history that showed an idea of moment versus situation. Your point well taken – at what point do I personally choose to stop considering the value of my information and just ingest it? Do I just absorb the nightly news broadcast or do I look into the background/s of the reporters?

    I think we are so inundated with information that many people are shoving a hand up just looking for a life preserver, “Rules, please!”

    I think we are living in a time when communication has become fragmented (is this not a part of where we started on this conversation) and exploring why and how that is is not only interesting, it is imperative. (Which is why I am contributing to this conversation.)

    We have bits’n’pieces of this and that flying at us constantly. Where/when/how on what basis do we make decisions about what we “think”? Where are the guidelines coming from? From our church? A political leader? A newscaster? Mom and Dad?

    Isn’t this a current day human quandry that is a common thread throughout many of these recent posts blogs essays?

    How do we chose fact from fiction? What is going on inside of us to place value and judgement? Where are the RULES? Isn’t this the discussion? The question of Where Are People Getting Their Information – but moreover, why are the making the choices they are making regarding what they believe and how they run their lives?

    OK – I’ve gone off again.
    Thank you with love and utmost respect!!

  13. Hi Linda, and all

    What you are talking about is related to epistemology — the study of how we know what we know. It’s a vast topic and it’s more suited to careful philosophical reflection than conversation; and “insights” need to be grounded in experience.

    I think there are different tolerance levels for different necessities. If you are in a hotel and the fire alarm in your room goes off, you don’t debate with yourself how you know there’s really a fire; you apply the precautionary principle and leave. You may not mull over whether a master tries to change the world, and instead knock on doors and assist evacuating others.

    If a political leader says it’s time to fight another war, you have time to ask questions, but you may have less influence; what influence you do have, and what risks you’re willing to take, are another level of what you may work through; what is appropriate; what is your karma.

    You can take these two approaches to different situations can be consistent within one person’s concept of ethical conduct.

    << I think the book “Blink” asks that we consider that what we might individually perceive to be true in a moment, may in fact not be a universal – broader truth. And that we would be well placed to consider what of our personal universal opinions we use to color our daily experiences – to which our personal preferences may or may not apply as useful. >>

    Let’s presume this is an accurate paraphrase, or true enough. Without understating the value of basic teaching, plenty of which is surely called for, this is an elementary idea; I take my coffee soy milk and no sugar. How do you take yours?

    Who really needs to be told this? Well, someone might. I think that relative truth or accusing the truth as being subjective can have some serious problems. One person decides that the dorm is questionably toxic and they are not taking risks. Another person notices the person who told him the dorm is toxic has long hair, which means they are angry at “the system” and therefore have no credibility.

    Likewise there is no absolute truth on this kind of issue: not everyone will be hurt living in a dioxin-contaminated building. The weak, the sick, those previously exposed, are more vulnerable. Some will be immune to the effects. Is the building objectively safe? Or do we need to go to another level — the motives of those who say it is safe; and the basis of their statement?

    Occasionally, as much as I know about xenoestrogens, I find myself chewing plastic coffee stirrers; and when I realize I’m doing it, I remind myself they are the modern equivalent of PCBs and I toss the thing into the trash.

  14. there was a really good critical review of gladwell’s work in the times a few weeks ago, written by harvard psychology professor steven pinker:

    “An eclectic essayist is necessarily a dilettante, which is not in itself a bad thing. But Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “sagittal plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra).”

    Oh igon value, how did that get past his editors?!


    Because they may not fact check. Neither did Sarah Palin’s editors, apparently. If he is making errors like this so casually, there are likely to be thought process errors as well. Editing takes time and work. The writer needs to be honest and the editor [or more likely their assistant] needs to be willing to check the writer’s work. Gladwell has star power, and an editor’s assistant may not be willing to challenge him. You would be amazed how low-brow book editing can be. Then there was the book agent who said my proposal was great and that I was worth a six figure advance, but that I should write the next “Blink.” I guess I can take that as a compliment. –efc

  15. PS.

    And so again as with the Kathi discussion and your post of today – where we find our personal truths is of utmost importance. Who we rely upon to teach us is of utmost importance.

    Yet – can I not learn as much from those I disagree with as those I agree with? I find that therein I learn even more.

    And again, the multi-facet aspect plays out….again in sync with your post today — I do not know the author of Blink personally. I do not anticipate that I ever will.

    In fact, I found this one book to be useful in pointing out the simple point of “wow, what we think we see can be shifted by preconceived notions more than I ever realized”.

    Is he a good man? I do not know? A good friend? I do not know. etc etc. This is much of the world we live in – we do not have a neighbor on either side whom we know well and overall trust or not. We have bits and pieces from here and there and from that we attempt to build a complete vision of the world around us.

    Another aspect methinks of this current age we live in and one worth considering as well.

    Wow. I LOVE this stuff.
    Thanks for the dialog.

  16. Eric,

    I think I’ll lean on Len for a moment here, “i woke up and realized that i needed to take responsibility for my perception, now i’m trying to figure out how to do that consistently.”

    And we have permission to shift our reality too, of course – but within the individual, within the group, must there not be some consistency of perception – and cannot that truly be only subjective ?

    But we MUST put the thing we call objectivity into play or we have no semblance of order. Yes?

    I think the book “Blink” asks that we consider that what we might individually perceive to be true in a moment, may in fact not be a universal – broader truth. And that we would be well placed to consider what of our personal universal opionions we use to color our daily experiences – to which our personal preferences may or may not apply as useful.

    Isn’t that what the dialogue over Kathi’s letter was all about? Making choices about what we perceive as truth? And do we look for a broader truth – or only rely on our personal truth? And what past experience or current expectation colors that?

  17. aword: sincerely sorry to hear about your car. in my observation you are not alone, there is indeed some of this going around. i have been pondering the synchronicity of this. Mercury does not even enter its next echo phase for 2 weeks. Have not come up with an aspect or transit (or combination thereof) that resonates yet. Venus is about to transit behind the Sun but that does not satisfy my intuition. Still working on it.

    Eric – it took years of being told that perception is reality before i woke up and realized that i needed to take responsibility for my perception, now i’m trying to figure out how to do that consistently.

  18. That’s a shame about Gladwell. I found the point in his book “Blink” to be well said – that is, that in the blink of an eye, do we really know what we have seen, or have we been deceived by our own deeply held convictions about what MOST LIKELY or PROBABLY we saw? Did we see what we THOUGHT we OUGHT to see in that moment or did we objectively visually record it?

    (Probably dependant on circumstances, I would surmise.)

    Thanks Eric, for your information regarding a different facet of this author.

    Again; the proof is in the pudding, is it not? Where do we find our own “truths” and do we make other people “gods” for sharing theirs with us? Does everyone hold many facets (like that diamond model) each of which can cast light or darkness as we shift and flow through our lives? Is this about communication? Is this about perception? is this about relationship?


  19. Gladwell is a very, very serous problem. He is certainly qualified to speak about deceiving the public, but it would be preferable if he were under oath.

    He recently appeared on a major television program and I was able to get this memo into the hands of a producer. I think this underscores the need to know who someone is as well as the context of what they have to say. Part of media literacy is about understanding the reputation of the writer or publication involved. I don’t know enough about Gladwell’s books to critique them, but others are onto those issues. Here’s my memo.


    In the early 1990s, there was a documented conspiracy between the paper business, a guy at CDC named C Vernon Houck and something called the Wise Use movement (funded by Moon among others), to convince the world that dioxin is not dangerous. Up to that point its reputation was horrendous: Agent Orange, Love Canal, Times Beach, Seveso Italy, Five Rivers Oregon, the Binghamton State Office Building — all major disasters involving dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.

    EPA was working on a massive reassessment of dioxin’s toxicity, which would be damning — and which died under Bush 43. [I covered this reassessment in my 1994 Sierra piece on PCBs and dioxins.]

    So the Wise Use movement, along with Houck, had two plants in the national media: Keith Schneider and Malcolm Gladwell. Their role was to produce articles in the Times and the Post that set a news agenda that certified dioxin safe, just as this EPA report was coming out. It appears that Schneider had a bigger role, but Gladwell played his part — and their stories were absolutely false; they were never retracted; and the whole thing was exposed in the American Journalism Review in a 1993 expose by Vicki Monks.

    Gladwell moves onto the New Yorker and writing bestsellers. Schneider leaves the Times and starts a nonprofit. But besides in Vicki’s reporting, they have never been called on the carpet.

    They both belong in jail, in my view. Certainly Gladwell — until he accounts for his actions — lacks the credibility to be on __________, or anywhere for that matter. But few people know this. It is all pre-internet. The AJR pieces were not even on the Net until I posted them on Dioxin Dorms. I have held off on touching Gladwell’s Wiki page because I want to get him once, and do it right.

    Short of getting equal time for the New Paltz story and much wider dioxin story, _______’s producers need to know that Gladwell has some very serious credibility issues in his past, which fraudulently affected international dioxin policy and therefore the public health of millions, from the moment he published his first articles. The dioxin issue is dead, thanks to what he and Schneider did in the NYTimes and the WPost.

    Here is Vicki’s article on Gladwell.

  20. PS I think my car died its last death this morning – now that does NOT appear to be a Mercury event!? Perhaps it had something to say. LOL! (Lots of Laughs, Laugh out Loud and Lots of Love 😉

  21. Adding to our conversation — I recently read the fascinating book by Malcolm Gladwell called Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

    Mr. Gladwell’s book is a study in the “only believe half of what you see” portion of our old-school wisdom. It describes from a journalists point of view just how easily what we think we see is not what existed at all. I’m sure anyone involved in police work would verify this from experience of interviewing witnesses.

    So indeed; is there a beginning (in time) to our in/ability to automatically perceive the “truth” or “reality”?

    I’ve just picked up a book for Thanksgiving reading which also appears to fit this theme: “The De-Voicing of Society Why We Don’t Talk to Each Other Anymore” written by John L. Locke. I know nothing of the content (yet) or author, this was one of those books that went jumping out at me as I was seaching for a different Call Number.


  22. Eric referred to this as a old problem. That is an understatement if there ever was one. aword expended on this referring to the “if its in print, it’s true” reflex. The cure applied by the common folk (of which i am one) is: don’t believe anything you hear (or read) and only half of what you see. There is deep wisdom in this maxim though many take it as cynicism.

    The beginning of problem is this. Spoken language is very old but written language is very new. So new that it still, to this day, exists as a type of magic. Sales people use it to get us to buy the same poison and junk over and over by presenting it in ever more creative ways. Media uses it to get us to join a consensus that benefits a select few at our own expense. Politicians use it to get us to support murder in the name of unspeakable profit. Beginning in the neolithic the rate of change we brought upon ourselves exceeded the rate at which our hard wiring could evolve to keep up. This was recognized by a few and has been used to enrich and empower those few ever since. It may not be an overstatement to say that is is the one and only conspiracy.

    The continuation of the problem is that the way we are taught to read and write only only reinforces our vulnerability to manipulation and deception by means of language. It may not be an overstatement to say that this is no accident.

    The solution to the problem is for each of us to take responsibility and teach ourselves how to read and write all over again – this is not easy. i have fewer years to live than i have wasted and yet have only begun this task.

  23. Most college and university papers have to be sourced with print media and if internet references are used, the print references must back up what is said by the internet reference. It’s a good way to fact check. Most states have libraries on line, which makes it a lot easier to find the print media. In Indiana we have – This site claims that it provides reliable, verifiable, quantifiable and accurate information. This online research library provides its services to all of those who are Indiana residents.

    So you can still use the internet to find reliable sources without traveling to a city.

  24. I always try to read newspapers /or on line news from other countries to get
    a better handle – although they suffer from the same media issues we do
    but maybe less.

    One interesting fact I came across today is that Beck is born the day before Palin-

  25. I recently had a conversation with a local librarian (public library that accomodates a lot of high school kids on research projects. They also have a library literacy program.)

    An important observation made was just how much people take it for granted that if it’s in print, it’s true.

    I was pleased to learn that through the literacy program many of these kids are being shown specific examples of information (internet) that is being doled out as truth when clearly when clearly it is not — and therefore how important it is to learn to stop and consider.

    Personal happy note I simply need a place to share ! – I am fascinated by Richard Tarnas, whom Eric has frequently mentioned (thank you Eric!) Upon reading more about him, I discovered that we share a birthdate although 8 years apart — (I have never met anyone with the same month/day solar return as mine so “cool” on that) — and enjoyed the fact that we not only share Pisces sun, but also Aries moon (I frequently shout out, “damn Aries moon!!” as it often seems to counter my native responses to life!)

    This may be elementary to you astrologers, but I did a little chart-play and discovered that in fact the sun/moon placement does vary from year to year (I thought perhaps it would be the same each year for the same date). Seeing the differences in the charts with all the same information but different years gave me huge insight into how vast a wealth of potential differences and nuances of similiarities we have.

    I plan to use more time looking at these comparative charts as it seemed to give insight as to how the planets move (and do not move). Just another way to learn the same information about planetary movement, no doubt.

    Anyway, thanks — I know that was off course of this post, but I wanted to share my excitement; perhaps Mercury is at work ? 😉

  26. thanks eric, you’ve brought up something extremely important to me in life and work, though i believe the need is for Critical Medial Literacy (which comes out of a few camps including cultural studies and critical pedagogy but with major contributions from feminist theories and standpoint epistemologies). here’s a metaphor for how i see they differ in my understanding of them (and i’m just going with the flow of it here – hope it makes sense); it’s the difference between looking at a diamond and recognizing the multiple facets it produces in certain contexts, to actually being within the center of that diamond and looking out with that multiplicitly faceted lens that allows you to see how you (as the faceted diamond) are creating what you are producing outside of you, while simultaneously conscious of the contexts that are constructing your expression. not sure if that makes any sense but it’s a dialogue we truly need to have.

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