When I was in high school, I was a young Republican. I was a fan of Ronald Reagan.
Then I learned about what had happened as a result of the Reagan administration’s interference in El Salvador. A few years later, I read Ward Churchill’s “A Little Matter of Genocide” and my desire to question all that was put forth in mainstream consciousness increased exponentially.
Over the years, I have devoted time learning about stories outside the mainstream. I have lived a part of my life in the world of conspiracy. I have spent hours researching the prepper “SHTF” lifestyle.
I have also advanced my critical thinking skills by pursuing higher education in the liberal arts, in liberal schools.
I do not have a problem with reading conspiracy theories and researching the premises under which mainstream realities are questioned. I have, however, over the last few years, leashed up my “inner conspiracy theorist” with a substantial chain crafted of links of critical thought. I have observed conspiracy theory take a turn into a world that was far more dark and wacky than I had experienced.
With the recent revelations about Russian interference with our social media platforms, I now feel somewhat justified in my skepticism of more recent conspiracy theories.
Let me be clear I was not immune to these manipulations. I got caught up in a lot of the fervor leading up to the election. I struggled to maintain some sanity, when both the mainstream and the conspiracy theory worlds went absolutely mad. I adopted a process to question what I would read or hear – “what if 25% of this story is true?”
It was sometimes difficult to distill down which 25% would matter. It was a process. Dissect the elements of the story up into identifiable themes. Cook out those elements which would not stand the scrutiny, and analyze what was left. What would it mean to the world if that part of this theory were true.
As we uncover the power of these actors to change the narratives in such convincing ways, I think it’s really import for everyone to practice critical thinking and take a 25% approach to all these stories that come across our social media feeds.
Which is to say, be careful with your spirits, my friends. Question what is fed to you, but use your wisdom and discernment to analyze critically what is put forth. Be willing to be wrong. The truth will not land where people lack the humility to be wrong.