Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SocietyMassCom: Skepticism and Media Literacy (W4-P2) Fa17

Media literacy can be seen as applying a skeptical perspective to media.

So, let’s think in general about skepticism.

In everyday life, when you hear the word skepticism what comes to mind? When somebody is labeled a skeptic, what does that mean? Ah, she's a skeptic.

Skepticism can be seen as way of thinking or an approach to a claims.

Claim: “an assertion of the truth of something, typically one that is disputed or in doubt” (Oxford Dictionary).

Have some claims that you doubt?  Why do you doubt them?

Based on your viewing of the video below, is Amazing Randi a critical thinker and true skeptic?  What is it that he does that makes him a critical thinker?  What are his relevant skills and attitudes?

What is the claim he is talking about in the video?  What is his approach to the claim?  Is he skeptical?  What does that mean?

What is Skepticism?

Michael Shermer, the editor Skeptic magazine, writes in his magazine that:

"Some people believe that skepticism is rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse "skeptic" with "cynic" and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas--no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position."

Shermer and the Baloney Detection Kit

Skepticism and the baloney detection kit can be and should be applied in many situation in life, especially when somebody makes a claim that is important to you.  If we apply skepticism and the baloney detection kit to media, then we are talking media literacy.

The baloney detection kit is a set of questions that one should ask when facing an important claim.  In Shermer’s kit he has 10 questions.  For our purposes will focus on just four and see how they especially apply to media.

Part of the kit (4 of 10)
  1. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
  2. Does this fit with the way the world works?
  3. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
  4. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?

Shermer - Baloney Detection Kit video [see from 2:50 to 7:07]

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