I am always amazed at the power of the media. Seeing something on television makes it true. Seeing something in print in a newspaper or on a website is proof that it is a fact — and in fact it is then often used as a reference in someone else’s research paper. Once someone sees something on TV or in the paper, it is almost impossible to convince them otherwise.

 This is especially frustrating to those people who are actually experts in some field. They can devote their lives to study in a particular area, work in the field for 40 years, and still be told that they don’t know what they are talking about. After all, “I saw it in the paper.”

 The media worshipers think that they are even more credible if that newspaper article that they are quoting came from some foreign country news service– especially if that country is hostile towards the United States– because then it seems more like some “inside scoop”.

  It could be said that the more ignorant that someone is of a particular topic, the more likely that they will be convinced of something that they see on TV. Watching TV and reading the paper are really just forms of entertainment with limited educational value. “Reality” TV shows are supposed to be able to portray real life, but Critical Thinkers that visit this website may ask, “If you want to see real life, why are you sitting at home and watching TV?”

 Getting an education from television and from websites is the easy way out though. Rather than spend years in college and gain the years of experience in a particular field, one can read an article and become an expert while eating breakfast. Plus, now one can wave around “proof” in front of people who disagree with one’s new-found expertise. And their vote is just as good as the vote of the true expert.

 This is not to say that one should not try to stay current or to try to expand one’s horizons. The news does provide a valueable service. People should strive though, to resist the notion that keeping up with their favorite paper is the path to true knowledge and insight. Simply stated, it should be no surprise that there are people who know more about a topic and all of its finer points than can be learned from reading a newspaper or watching TV.

 Let us face it. Facts can be wrong. Mistakes can be made. You can get five people who personally witness a car accident and get five different reports of what they each swear happened. Never mind how the facts come out when they get reported by someone who was NOT there. Facts are not the whole story anyway.

But even when the facts are true, you often get what we Critical Thinkers would call a Logical Error. It is when the facts may actually be true but either the wrong conclusion is drawn or the argument takes a tragic turn of reason.

 Take a fact at random and let’s enjoy the fun of drawing the wrong conclusion!

 People who eat vegetables – die. This is factually correct. But there is more to the story, of course. Here is a fictional account of a study that went “off the path”, shall we say.

 Dieticians who have studied the eating habits of early American settlers in southern Virginia have found that all of those who ate vegetables have died. Scientific analysis of dental fragments found that the settlers ate a diet high in vegetables, including maize. When town records were compared with passenger rosters from the settler’s ships, it was found that of all the original residents,  every single one of them has died.

 “We were shocked,” relates Dr. Samuel J Ragmuffin, Chief Researcher of the Gamma Research Foundation, “We had always known that the settlers ate lots of maize that they got from the Indians, but we never suspected such widespread mortality.”

 “Originally we had suspected Beri Beri as being the cause of their demise, but we were perplexed by the fact that some of the skeletal remains showed no such evidence. It wasn’t until we realized the only common thread that could have killed all of them was their high-vegetable diet.

 Dr. Ragamuffin had various cookbooks on display from the time period in question “…and almost every recipe had — you guessed it — vegetables in it. I am sure that a lot of Vegetable Company executives don’t want you to hear about this.”

 Upon his discovery, Rasmussen has called for an immediate cessation of all vegetable intake by anyone and has urged Congress to enact emergency measures.

 “We now know what is killing people and we have the means to stop it,” stated Ragamuffin.

 Some critics claim that it could have been something else that killed the settlers but the supporters of Ragamuffin are quick to come to his defense.

 “What, like the Indians would have killed each and every one of them? We in fact have some remains where there were no apparent injuries found!” said one demonstrator as he prepared for a march on the White House.

 “Just think of anybody that you know that has ever died. Did they ever eat vegetables? What about eating things that were made with corn syrup?” asked one of Ragamuffin’s followers.

 “Obviously the government is responsible. Or to blame. Or something. They should have known! They are our only chance!” said another.

 “You’re just a crony of the rich corn industry executives!” shouted one Ragamuffin follower at a man who refused to believe the facts brought to light by Dr. Ragamuffin himself.


 People should continue to read the newspaper of their choice, watch whatever TV shows that they like and visit any website that they please. Understand though that this may not make someone as well versed in an area as someone who lives, works and breathes the subject. Reducing any issue into a list of facts and talking points is not only misleading, it is an insult to those who put in the time and effort and who really know what is going on. Talk to them if you really want to learn. The value of experience is only fully appreciated by those that have it. The next time that you hear someone disagree with someone else, be wary if they say,  

 “Don’t tell me! I read all about it on a website!”