Writers in the Academics

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Interview with Jenny Lavey, Communications Director at Montana State University

Jenny writes for College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Stations at Montana State University. She has been working at Montana State University (MSU) for four years. Her writing responsibilities includes reaching out the ongoing research in Agricultural Science at MSU to growers of Montana and federal government by extension and technical writing, and making people aware of MSU’s research accomplishments through news, social media, web and magazine writing. She is the only one writer for College of Agriculture and covers all activities and events frequently done by College of Agriculture in the field of soil, plant, animal, and environmental sciences. In addition, she also teaches two Technical Writing courses in Dept of English at MSU.

She fell in love with reading and writing in her school days and then earned bachelor degree in English Literature and masters in Composition & Rhetoric. After college years, she started reporting for a newspaper about criminal behaviors and their court trials. Within few years of doing that job, she emotionally drained with that and decided to change genre and started learning and reporting local farmers about agricultural and natural resources. The 2008 economic recession in US shut down her newspaper and she had to find another job and then she got new job at MSU.

She works individually and feel more comfortable doing that, but she also believes that sharing your writing piece with others for editing, language and fluency make a writing piece stronger. Because if more peoples are engaged in a writing more ideas come in, hence she collaborates often with communication department at MSU and asks for necessary feedback.

She always interacts with her clients and writes what are they doing that has impact on state or national agriculture. She seeks for new inventions, discoveries, new recommendations, high impact journal articles from faculty and researchers and then prepares writing pieces for general public and then sends for publication. She observes that the researchers are too technical and it is difficult for them to come out from technical zone and write for general audience. They can’t communicate efficiently with people who are outside their technical zone, trying to do so may impair their technical skills. So, they need someone who can outreach their work to public and writes do that very well. She feels, she always has more science work than her ability to write, hence this job is too demanding.

She has three type of audience, one is federal government personnel- technical, second is growers- non-technical and third one is website users- informative. So, to fill the everybody’s need, she writes same piece in different voices, for different audience. Faculty send her annual reports of the work they have done and then she prepares it to satisfy the objectives of federal or private funding agencies and to convince them to provide funding again if necessary. She writes feature stories like about pulses, horticultural crops, and new technology for growers and for the same she visits experimental stations and asks researchers for scientific ideas and innovative growers to collect content. She interacts with growers on ‘field days’ to present the work university is doing for them and to cover the news. Since social media has become more powerful news sources, she also writes for social media account of College of Agriculture.

She writes only during academic hours. She wishes to write for her own writing during non-academic hours, but also need personal and social space, hence it hard to be a writer and getting paid. However, she always thinks about new ideas and ways of improving her academic writing beyond academic hours. She believes that you are always catching ideas whether you are in grocery store or in social conversations. In free time, she reads other’s writing ranges from fiction to non-fiction and that help her to hone her writing process.

The most challenging part of her writing is the conversion of technical language from scientific to meaningful non-scientific language, in a way to reach its intended audience like a grower or a layman. That’s the most difficult part because she has master in English- Composition & Rhetoric and doesn’t know much about scientific, and technical jargon. Similarly, researchers and faculty are not efficient in non-scientific writing. So, whenever she writes, she sends back the writing piece to the faculty for proof reading and editing. Sometimes, there are conflicts on certain piece of writing, both sides claim to be right. She learns from the faculty about the technologies and faculty learn from her about the easily consumable forms of writing, hence it becomes two-way learning.

Her writing inspiration comes from the moral science that she is helping the researchers and students in their efforts to feed the world. She feels more rewarded when she comes up with a magazine or a feature story that can influence people and help growers to produce food to feed the world. And that’s how, she justifies her work and feels energetic.

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Expert in Audience

“You have to be willing to have people look at you and think you’re stupid, and it be okay.”

Nika Stoop is the grant training coordinator for the center of faculty excellence at Montana State University. This means that she goes a couple of different things, she helps faculty figure out how to teach research scholarship, and it means she holds writing workshops where she works with people on grant writing.

The time I spent interviewing Stoop really allowed me to reflect on my experience last semester in Doug’s science writing class, which boils down to my consistent struggle with my questioning expertise. Stoop disclosed that in her time working at Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, she often times did not know the deep science of what she was asking people about. Although from a scientific background, a chemistry major in college who went on the get her PhD in molecular biochemistry and molecular biophysics, she found that in conducting interviews with scientists it wasn’t about getting into the nitty gritty details of what she was composing a story about. It was gaining enough information and figuring out how to “pick out the nuggets” of information that will be important in writing for Novartis.

“I can still do my job well even if I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about.”

She was writing for the people who visited the company and providing them with information on the different pharmaceutical research that was happening there through internet resources, posters, pamphlets, and even presentations to the people who came to visit the company. Getting into the specific scientific details was less important than communicating to others what exactly what happening at the company. It boiled down to being “accurate enough” that the information wasn’t skewed, but that others could understand it.

“As a writer, you’re always going to be in a situation where you don’t know all of the answers.”

She had never gone into anything thinking about being a writer. However, she expressed that she had always been interested in the writing process. Her first job working in writing was working for MIT writing research grants. This job was her first introduction to writing as a career. From there she work at the pharmaceutical company before moving to MSU where she now writes less and assists writers more.

Grants, she explained, are really collaborative. She looks at the needs of the grantor, and what they are trying to spend their money. Then, she looks at the researchers and what their needs are. And in that, she sees a partnership and helps those searching for grants better be able to meet the needs of those who give grants.

Stoop’s job at MSU has her doing a lot less writing than she did before. Her focus at MSU is to help faculty and researchers construct their grant proposals. She explained that this type of writing is more like a partnership. She does everything from helping the researchers figure out how to better write their grant proposals to better match the criteria the grantor is putting out there.

She recently held a one hour grant workshop to try to give people the basic information they need to know about grants in a short hour of time.

“You’re never going to be an expert in everything you talk to people about, so you’re going to have to be an expert at understanding how much you need to know to write the story. And to write it in a real and accurate way.”   

Stoop talked about her background in science and how it better helped her in helping writing grants or the science writing she was doing before coming to MSU. She said that knowing more about the focus and mentality involved in getting a higher degree has helped her with the people side of her writing interactions and less in the actual writing of the things. Within this she’s better learned how to balance the use of scientific language and understanding for people who are asking for her help. She explained that her job is important because she’s giving them an audience who doesn’t know everything about what they are researching because their audience probably won’t have anyone who is an expert in what they’re researching, and so that makes it important.

“Know in your own heart that you’re not stupid.”

Stoop knows full-heartedly that writing professional is a difficult endeavor, but from what I learned from her, it’s about not taking it personally when everything goes wrong. It’s about believing in yourself if people don’t think you’re qualified enough to do the job you’re paid to do, and it’s constant learning. It’s attempting to gain the skills to figure out what information is important and what will facilitate the common goals of audiences, institutions, and writers. It’s having faith in your own skills and what you can do.

Entertainment Media

One of the biggest takeaways from the reading for this week was this weird idea that entertainment has become an important part of news and that now, instead of facts presented from a neutral (at least in attempt-we will always reflect some sort of bias) position where the reporter tries to best explain a given story, we get news stories that go for edginess and gusto, often spewing out an opinionated narrative that presents a story from a very specific position. The problem with this, especially when you consider how partisan the news has become, is you get talking heads trying to get ratings rather than report stories. What this does is allow pop-culture/entertainment stories to get priority over less “exciting” news stories that actually affect people on a day to day basis.

In order to prove this point (for me personally) I decided to check out 3 news pages today to see what stories were highlighted. After looking at Fox News, CNN, and NBC news I could say there were some important differences that sort of get at this partisanship and entertainment based pundit-media that Manjoo was getting at in his book.

Here are the headlines of each website:

NBC: “Democrats Troll Trump’s Policies with Invited Guests”

CNN: “What Wall Street Wants to Hear from Trump”

Fox: “MARDI GRAS MAYHEM: A dozen hurt as car plows into parade – yet again

I find it really interesting that CNN and Fox both have the Mardi Gras story on the front page of their website, but the language CNN uses is much more muted and lacks the sensationalism that Fox has. It says “Car plows into band in Mardi Gras parade; 12 people hurt 

The Fox story decides to focus on the violence and highlight the fact that this happened before. However, when you read the story it sounds as if today’s situation involved a 73 year old man who was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that the incident was not intentional. The first time it happened (28 days ago) the person was highly intoxicated.

The CNN headline uses a word like plow, but other than that doesn’t really have a slanted tone in terms of sensationalizing the violence.

However, this is not to say that the CNN site was neutral and lacked sensationalism. It did. The entire left column had to do with Trump policies and how they are affecting people. The right column had to do with hate-based crimes labeled “Hate in America”.

NBC’s headline also takes an angle as it uses a word like “Troll”.

I think these are all good indicators of how partisan-based and sensationalized our media has become and I thought Manjoo’s line on page 148 was a great example of this as he said, “But Lou Dobbs is not a raving idiot. He just plays one on TV. Given the circumstances, he’d be a fool not to.”

This idea that entertainment is more valuable in media than an attempt at non-biased analysis has grown with social media as every news outlet aims for a catchy attention-grabbing headline. So much so, that we have an actual term for it: click bait. Now, I know that a lot of click-bait articles are that way because they are paid by clicks, but mainstream media is not above the click-bait headlines, as I hope the 3 examples above indicate. I think we can all think of these moments. I chose the Anchorman 2 poster for my featured image because this is a subject in the movie where they realize they need to be entertaining most of all.

Feeding Our Biases

The second theme in these chapters that is important to discuss is the concept of perception in media. I thought the examples he gave on the Palestine/Israel conflict were really interesting because I do think we are all stuck in our views most of the time. I think the concept of rhetorical listening is incredibly crucial when it comes to trying to maintain a level head (at least as much as possible). For example, yesterday I came across a story about Steve Bannon saying that “marriage lets us do all the other things we can’t do in a regular relationship” and that “it’s ok to slap your wife around a bit if it’s done out of love and I think some women even love this because it shows they care”. Based on the type of individual Bannon is in my mind, the only part of this I initially found surprising was that he would say this openly in an interview. However, something like this, even if it fits the perception of who you think he is, needs to be checked. If such an interview existed it would be easily verifiable. It was 100% fake. Even though I think Bannon is an immoral human being doesn’t mean that I should accept any story that “fits the preconceived narrative”.

I think this step is the single most important part of making progress and working together, but it’s also the hardest. It’s so difficult to put these biases aside and try and analyse the situation because like Manjoo pointed out, people see media as being biased against their opinion/side, and they view things through a lens that reaffirms their beliefs.

I don’t have an answer as to how this can be fixed, but I hope we can all try.

Speed-Reading Through Pessimism, Politics, and Post-Factualism

Post my weekend where I’ve come out wondering what will make me a real human being again… I’m met with finishing this book (an uber fast finish) and the views of Katie and Ram after finishing the book! (My feature image isn’t for the text specifically, just my general state of life right now) Wow, oh wow. (And if anyone has any help to regaining personhood and mental capacity post finally completing big long-term projects, please let me know! Or if you have any tips on finding out a grandparent has died from a Facebook post instead of your parents. That’d be helpful too.) I’m kinda left feeling like:

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In her post, Katie states: “Living under a rock seems the only way to avoid biased stories and information, thus making it impossible to stay informed as to facts at the same time. Manjoo only hints at in the earlier chapters, but there is also the occasion where we use our own experience to dictate I something is possible or true, linking with selective perception.”

 

This was definitely one of the larger take aways I saw in this book as well. But less in a bitter way, I can think of it more in the aspect of understanding the world around us and how it works and bringing skepticism into it. There are no great answers on how to deal with anything ever. But I certainly think that the work Manjoo is doing in this text is to elicit that response.

In Ram’s post, I really wanted more about partisans. Historically, it’s been pretty obvious the moments when people were out-rightly opposed to partisan behaviors and dichotomizing. And right now, post factual everything comes up everywhere casually. However, I think that Ram brings up a really good thing when it comes to the different ideas of “particularized trust” and “generalized trust.”

Manjoo states that: “Particularized trust can’t be captured well by surveys, so there is little data on whether it’s advancing in the United States” (225). Particular trust deals with people who are inherently similar to us. Generalized trust deals with people we see as different than us. It seems to all deal with bias in a way that’s not completely specific to our full-hearted choices. This makes me think about research being done on implicit biases.

I think the purpose of this all is to be skeptical and think critically. Things we probably should have been doing all along. It’s to not just take things at face value. Most people are well aware the memory is a dud, so why should we go all out and truly believe what other people are saying and projecting out there. In a world with alternative facts… should we have been trusting the information before now? I can barely tell what’s a dream, a memory, or something that I’ve thought up and written fictionally. I know it’s more complicated than that, but should we have even been going blindly through media consumption beforehand anyway? When things were “factual,” should we have believed them?

I guess that’s why we need to think about these things too.

Partisans are Lethal

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Farhad Manjoo, in the chapters fifth and sixth of his book ‘True Enough- Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society’, explained that we people have created the system/channels through which propagandists are driving the “naive realism” and we are enjoying it. People pretend that they want to listen reality, but they don’t know or perhaps don’t want to confess that they are already biased and this biasness prevent them to accept reality. People skim different creams with different taste from same milk and possess a rigid opinion. You may find your cream bitter at the same time others find it sweet and then you interpret that other people are false because they are not in accord you are. And this leads to new salesman in the market, the market that had only one salesman with sweet cream, now have two salesmen with different tastes and it runs very well, because salesmen find viable market and greater customer satisfaction.

To explain my understanding on how we perceive ourselves right and others wrong in the same situation, I want to extend Lee Ross’s example on the term “fundamental attribution error”. If you are standing in a long line outside the pharmacy and impatiently waiting for your turn to reach the counter, then you see a man comes and go directly to the counter and get his medicine. You curse him badly for his rude behavior because there are many who are already standing in line; he is such a bad guy. Time passed, one day you are in hurry and want some medicine and reached at the same pharmacy. What you see is that there is long line from the counter and it may take an hour to reach the counter if you follow the line. You convince yourself that you are in hurry and then without a second thought, go directly the counter and get your medicine. You feel no guilty because whatever you did, it was due to emergency. The time ago, you had not got such feelings, but now you got because now it’s about you.

The above example may connect to “particularized trust” and “generalized trust”, Farhad Manjoo described in epilogue. By proving yourself that you are right, may result the ignorance of the trust that surrounds you. In the above example, you convinced yourself that you were right by not following the line because you had an emergency, but you neglected that there were some folks in the line who might had emergency same as you or more than you. You are ignorant of a lot that justifies truth. We should bend from our biased opinion and think about “reality” that makes better systems for smooth running of a society.

One may think, what is wrong with current propaganda if we are getting easily what we want. The worst thing about these fake news is that they obscure reality. If you put a label saying poison on a bottle holding honey in it, it doesn’t change the honey into poison, but it does change its perception to honey seekers. Someone become starved of honey despite of having abundant. So, consider wisely and prevent the rise of propagandists for the sake of future generations.

People Are Awful and So Are You

Katie Kelly

Manjoo’s concluding two chapters and epilogue paint a bleak picture for the human race as informed participants in building their own social culture. He presents this idea in the epilogue that I had thought of the entire 2016 presidential with main stream media being denoted as liars by everyone and their mothers. If media is made to address peoples’ existing biases, using actual facts as a basis for pushing an agenda of sorts, and this leads to people being completely misinformed, then why even bother?

Living under a rock seems the only way to avoid biased stories and information, thus making it impossible to stay informed as to facts at the same time. Manjoo only hints at in the earlier chapters, but there is also the occasion where we use our own experience to dictate I something is possible or true, linking with selective perception. So to avoid our own biases from influencing the information we consume, and prevent others’ agendas from coloring the information we are exposed to, it seems being ignorant is truly bliss.

These options, be ignorant or be brainwashed, seem kind of limiting given this growth of possibilities over just the last 30 years. Is the answer to be completely skeptical of everything? Overly critical of even arguments that support your internal motivations? To spend so much time collecting information to be informed enough to make a clear educated conclusion about the topic, that we are risk of being left behind as more events and topics float in? Maybe it’s not even worth keeping up, perhaps at some point giving up is the best and sanest way to go about being influenced by the media. If you are aware of your personal biases and of the slant presented by the various news outlets, you can find a sweet medium between being informed and being ignorant. In being aware of potential influences one can be the right amount of skeptical to stay open minded when presented with conflicting information, but also not over expend resources in trying to reach the dirty details of every possible story out there.

My outlook on the subject is perhaps just as bleak as Manjoo’s on people and their ability to take information in a non-harmful manner. Can’t really give a defense to the contrary, and honestly I don’t really care. This book became exhausting to get through and frustrating to relate to, so I just took on Manjoo’s poor view of people as vehicles for information. And that feeds into the only conclusion I got from this book: we’re all awful and stupid. Cheers to us.

Popping the Technical Bubble

Kerry Byrnes has been a Technical Editor for Barnard construction for a little over a year. She started out as a writing major who worked in the writing center while attending school at Montana State University. The writing center gave her an insight to her passion to talking with others to develop their writing. Through her connections at the writing center, she found a job with Barnard as a technical writer in the marketing department following graduation. With a passion for professional and practical writing, the job seemed to be the perfect fit.

As a technical editor in the marketing department, Byrnes is responsible for taking various forms of technical information and converting it into audience driven documents. Several of the examples of writing she brought to the interview were of various genres that portrayed the same information. There are the project profiles that are to inform the owners of the projects and sites of the status and work being performed. There are then quarterly publications for all of Barnard’s clients that update the clientele as to the projects currently being worked on and their status. Finally, there is the internal monthly newsletter that includes a more personal touch for project updates in addition to employee lifestyle articles. While all these pieces of writing fundamentally contain the same information, they are each tailored to who will be reading them.

Byrnes’ writing process begins with identifying the purpose of the document to be circulated. The audience varies based on the type of circulation, meaning the level of technical information going into any given document fluctuates with the audience. The content and types of stories that go into each is also determined by the audience. The project profile, for example, would not contain information on multiple projects, but rather a greater amount of specificity to the single project covered. Once the audience is identified, Byrnes spends time going through internal documents on the projects as well as interviewing the personnel on the project to gain a better understanding. Much like her work in the writing center, it is more a method of taking content that others have already written on the subject and improving it by means of simplification and tailoring to the desired audience. In many ways, her job as an editor is more prominent than that of a writer in the sense she morphs the information to better fit the publication’s audience.

Any non-work related writing Byrnes chooses to indulge is also focused in the real world of professional writing. She explored the peculiarity of being odd one out as an undergraduate in the sense of not having an affinity or desire to write fiction; where she dabbled in creative non-fiction, found far greater enjoyment in helping others improve their writing and writing with a real world application and purpose. Currently, writing outside of work consists of essays on various topics.

As an engineer myself, I have worked in several companies where those of us who worked in a more technical realm weren’t usually responsible for conveying information to clients. This interview was interesting in the sense that I now saw how it connected. A business obviously has to work with stakeholders and clientele, but existing in the technical bubble can make one forget communication with stakeholders on their level of understanding is an activity that must be done. Byrnes’ role as a technical editor fills a need that is up and coming. The need to take technical knowledge and shape it for the appropriate audience is a skill set that is needed when it comes to relating the technical bubble to the real world. However, these types of jobs aren’t explicitly marketed as jobs for writing majors and can require a bit of networking and selling one’s skills in that department. There is a great need for technical editors to pop the technical bubble, and Kerry Byrnes is one of many young professionals leading the way.

The Incompetence of Expertise

In the fourth chapter of his book ‘True Enough- Learning to Live in a Post Fact Society’, Farhad Manjoo explained how peripheral processing of finding the answer to a question takes over central processing. People tend to prefer “peripheral route”, a simple and shortcut method to make a choice when they are ignorant in certain field and prefer a “central route”, a complicated and long method to make a choice when they are comfortable with the complexity of the route. The central route is more accurate because it is based on facts and need expertise, a expertise that vary significantly within a discipline even within sub-discipline, hence less subject to adoption. That is why, when reality splits, peripheral route takes advantage over central route.

Way of presentation is more important than the content. We write the content in MS Word, evaluate the data in MS Excel and present the idea on MS Power point. All three platforms are specialized/expert for their intended use, but MS Power point has more power than any other two to influence non-expert audience. Power point slides are short, designed to fit the audience and that is why this source is more effective. As Farhad Manjoo says, amateurs who pretend as expert, exploit weak zone of the peripheral route and deceive people.

Few months back in October 2016, Danny Hakim, an investigative reporter in New York Times published a post in which he questioned the benefits of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) in terms of increased yield and reduced pesticide use in the US and Canada. He compared the US and Canada, leading countries in GMOs use with European countries which has been refusing the adoption of GMOs. He compared both sides by presenting several graphs derived from data on crop yield and pesticide use. This post sparked the debate on use of GMOs and widely circulated by anti-GMO folks. If you are not expert in genetic engineering and neutral on this topic, this post is biased enough to make you anti-GMO as it seemed so realistic. His content was not fake but way of presentation was biased.

There were several flaws in his graphs and next day, Andrew Kniss, a Weed Scientist at Wyoming State University published a blog post on his webpage in which he pointed out those flaws. First, the data, Hakim used from both sides were in different units, which is not a valid comparison. Second, the data he used for pesticide use comparisons were not interpreted per unit area basis. The farming practices in US and European countries are far different and there are several factors that need to be considered when making such wide comparisons.

Benefits of GMOs is a complex topic and has been remained on debate since the time of their release.  Now in this context, there are two experts on the same topic who are presenting the same issue in two different way. Anti-GMO folks found Hakim’s post accurate and circulated the post to others in their group. They are ignoring Andrew Kniss’s post that has proved Hakim’s post inaccurate with facts. Pro-GMO folks, whether had not considered the Hakim’s post or had a second thought, but then they found the Andrew Kniss’s post and firmed with their belief. Hakim’s post spread more rapidly and got more attention, since there were anti-GMO folks who were waiting for someone who can raise questions on benefits of GMOs.

Trash About Trash: Expert Confusion

I LOVED the name of Katie’s blog post this week! She did well starting with discussion connecting the ideas of experts into the conversations we had surrounding Booth’s three different types of rhetoric.

This book is really political. That’s not a problem, but every time I open it up to do my reading I cringe a little bit.

Regardless….

Manjoo states: “Expertise presents another mechanism for reality to shatter: we choose our personal versions of truth by subscribing to the clutch of specialists we find agreeable and trustworthy” (107). To me, this relates back to the news websites we trust and the media we digest. Which directly relates to this graph I saw on the internet a while back (I can’t even tell you where I saw it, so it might as well be fake itself.):

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Where somehow Buzzfeed can both tell me what my dream job is based on watercolor paintings is, inform me about different drinking customs around the world, and also provide me with information on the latest tragedy of my concern. I’m not saying it’s a go to news site by any means. Heck, before looking at this graph I never even thought about them presenting news at all. I thought they just provided me with weird videos and quizzes to take on Friday nights with the people I’ve known for 5+ years. But When we think about expertise we also think about the political stuff too. Everything left to right. Everything good to poor quality. Trash and not trash.

“We choose our personal versions of truth by subscribing to the clutch of specialists we find agreeable and trustworthy”

This is more important than ever when I wake up this morning with my Facebook friends (who are as liberal if not more than I am) talking about the importance of taking Trump’s “Media Accountability Survey” which was sent to what I can figure to be… only Trump supporters. But sending things strictly to those who support you has yet to trick the internet. Somehow the link and the image below still ended up in the hands of my political activist pals.

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And, as with many things, my friend explained the importance of participating in these kinds of things (where the wording is discomforting and the psychologists wouldn’t be able to use it in their real research).

Love Trump? Hate Trump? I don’t have the energy to fight you right now. Rather, these are the experiences I’m having, and I’m talking about them. When I was in theater we used to talk about how acting on a stage wasn’t lying. It couldn’t be based off of lies. Acting on a stage was telling the truth, so in areas where truth and lies combine and blur, it’s really important for us to think about WHO is feeding them to us.

I only feel vaguely bad about making all of my recent posts POLITICAL, but this text keeps bringing up politics, which makes it WAY too easy to relate it to current events. Something the rest of my group mates seem to be doing a reasonable job avoiding.

But somehow, within this easy access to knowledge we find it all too simple to be lost and caught up in moments where we are uncertain about the expertise of anyone. Manjoo explains this by stating: “Today, experts come at us from all directions, in every medium, through every niche. But their quality–their education, their experience, their reputation, their ideological and financial allegiances–is growing ever more difficult to ascertain” (108). This is why there’s such a big push for “credible sources” when you’re doing research. Are you using a “scholarly journal” or is it Wikipedia? It’s why there are annotated bibliography assignments, because often times they try to force you to think about the sources you’re using in academia.

This last week in The Exponent (an article I can’t quite find online, but will link or at least give the title of once I get back to a hard copy of the newspaper) talked about professors sharing their political opinions in classes and how that could or could not cause issue surrounding the class because professors are seen as an authority figure, and we are in a current cultural and political climate that is full of emotions (to say the least). And it’s interesting to think in the aspect of how academic authority could play into what different ideas we value in a liberal education system and how we then see experts as being (back into us trusting peer review journals over Wikis for me, I think).

So I took A LOT OF THINGS out of context for this blog post and went pretty big with it. Plus I’m sure it’s probably a little long too? Don’t know! But what I do know is that it talked about historical polling and polling accounts and how that’s something that certainly continues to be important today.

I’d like to add that I didn’t see my classmate’s posts until after posting because they weren’t in “Response 6” until I looked at the posts as a whole, and I think the visuals they’ve put in there are super awesome and discuss the same sorts of things.Casey’s “Feature image” talks about stuff that’s also really important to be aware of when consuming information.

The Power of Selective Exposure

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Farhad Manjoo, in his book ‘True Enough- Learning to live in a Post-Fact Society’, explained why people see same thing through different eyes. I have always been wonder why people don’t understand plain truth. Now it makes sense that facts don’t remains alive. It is not due to lack of evidence but due to how prejudice you are. Farhad Manjoo said that whether there are few evidences on an accident or too much evidence both necessarily doesn’t prevent a dissonance. “Reality splits, and then the split reality spreads”. The phenomenon is not new, which have always been but now accelerated by digital world. Illusion is becoming so powerful that it weakening the truth. When you encounter the information that contradicts your core belief, it becomes hard to accept. This is how selective exposure works. To explain why reality splits or why plain truth becomes divergent, you need to understand selective exposure. “Selective exposure evolves from cognitive dissonance”.

The idea “social reality” lead to generate group belief and it alters the individual’s belief. We concede group belief to become socially secure. Social groups derive from propinquity. It is obvious that relationship generates automatically with neighbors as our meets are limited to them, though it is not always true, that’s the greater possibility, similarly old relations disappear as we go far from old groups. However, these days digital platform has diluted this phenomenon by exposing us to unseen, favorable world. It extended our limits, so we don’t need to concede our belief in shake of “social reality”. Selective exposure allows you to choose the information, people you want or those fits your ideology. And this is dividing the world apart, consequently we see different opinions from the people living together and the truth is losing power.

I didn’t know much in detail about 9/11 attacks, hence reading this book really surprised me that how some groups have different views on the attacks far form official story. Be honest, it hurt me that few folks, to get attention spreading propaganda on such a serious concern and got succeed. Falsity, “weak dissonant” spreads more easily because it is more attractive as Lowin says. Folks who spark falsity exploits these weak zone of other’s brain, whether they personally believe in that way or not. They wanted to be different or in light, when something serious happen, they come out and present divergent thought and got attention. And it is easy to conceive those false ideas, because it gives you options. Peoples who have dissonance with government or an organization, they ignore reality given by that particular organization; they always have space for something different from what have presented by their rivals, hence they welcome such falsity and consume it. They only select what is in accordance with their belief. They remained untouched the truth. When you have one theory, you easily consume it with great satisfaction, but you have lots of options, you become divert and probability of being chosen right thing is decreases.