Fake News and the Importance of the Source
You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard the phrase “Fake News” in the past month.
Right out of the gate, “Fake News” is an oxymoron: “Fake” defined is “False. Not genuine, counterfeit.” News defined is “newly received or noteworthy information.” I suppose you could have non-genuine/noteworthy information, but it would be along the lines of “Puff the Magic Dragon seen waving New York Jets Flag in Hohokus.” I suppose that’s noteworthy, but since it’s not true, it’s not news! We all know that Puff the Magic Dragon is a Packers fan, right?
Nevertheless, in this “Fake News” world, I’ve had a number of my facebook friends share some geopolitical news story from some little-known source. These posts are frequently accompanied by something like, “I’m trying to learn more about this story, can someone confirm for me if this story is true?” While it’s unfortunate that we have to think this way, this is a good question to ask. In a social media/digital news world, we’re all reading and sharing information in drastically different ways than we used to. And information is coming from a lot more sources than it used to. As Americans, we’ve come a long way from national father figure Walter Cronkite reassuring us that everything will be ok before we go to bed.
The impact of Fake News has been a hot topic in our country since the 2016 election. Check out this hilarious study done by Stanford Economist Matthew Gentzkow to measure the impact of Fake News on our recent election. The story includes fun phrases such as, “Real, Fake News,” “Fake, Fake News,” and “Placebo Story.”
Critical Thinking and Worldview
Paradoxically, while we live in the “Information Age,” truth is hard to find. Falsehoods hide in plain sight among true stories, flooding our news feeds and google searches. How can we discern what is really happening if we don’t know the truth?
Critical thinking is often seen as the solution here. Defined as, “The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment,” critical thinking is a necessity to navigate today’s world. But even critical thinking comes from a starting point. How can you use words like “objective” and “judgement” unless you have a truth system to measure thoughts against?
That’s where worldview enters the conversation. What do you believe? Why do you believe it? On what authority do you claim these beliefs? Do you believe in objective reality? Do you believe in Absolute Truth with a Capital “T?” As humans, are we to live by a moral code, and, if so, which moral code? Where did this code come from? Are we living in a time when “truth” depends on which side of the political aisle you sit?
One of my favorite Christian thinkers of our time is Ravi Zacharias. On the topic of truth, he says, “We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.”
EC Seeks Truth
At Eastern Christian School, we don’t shy away from these thoughts. In fact, they are foundational to who we are. Indeed, one of our 6 core values is, “Seeking Truth.” And we unabashedly proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as the basis for this search. Afterall, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father except through him.
With those “Fake News” stories, it’s the source that counts. If you’re getting American news from Macedonian teenagers, that’s probably not the best source!
In the Christian walk that we teach and model for our students, we point to Jesus as The Source. He is the author and perfecter of our faith.
Think about this present generation. Think about the fundamental “Truth issues” that this generation will face- is already facing! What is right? What is wrong? How should I live? These are not new questions. They are questions that humanity has attempted to answer from the beginning of time. But even with all of our advances as a society, even with the world wide web ushering in of the information age, these nagging questions persist. That’s why there is no better time to have your child in a Christian school like Eastern Christian School; a school where these questions are answered with a “Capital T” Truth in every class and every day.
Our awesome, God-honoring, professional faculty is daily training up Christian disciples who know what they believe and why they believe it. So when EC graduates encounter “Fake News,” and a culture searching for truth, they know where to look, they know where to lead, and they know Whom to follow!
Let’s turn our focus from the fake news to the Good News. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that EC graduates have the critical thinking skills and the honed Christian worldview to live lives of vision and influence in the world. And we pray that our graduates will heed Christ’s call to go into all the world and to share the Good News of great joy that will be for all the people!