The title actually comes from John Ray, a good friend, who kindly read the manuscript of my first book seven years ago. He suggested that Informed Not Inflamed should be the book’s title. However, the publisher chose “Truth: The No BS Guide To Navigating A Media-Biased World”. Hey, I was just happy to have a publisher. Plus, the title made sense in 2005; many books subsequently used a form of “No BS Guide” for titles.
My wife Teri always agreed with John Ray and pushed it for this project. And it seems to make even more sense now.
We are a misinformed nation. Understand that’s my opinion. True, it’s hard to measure misinformation. But I think a lot of people agree with me. Too often a statement from a politician is greeted with an incredulous slap on your forehead. Or if you hear an opinion poll of the United States, you might hear, “What planet are they on?”
However, I think a lot of people would also agree with this: the more informed you are, the less inflamed you are. How many times have you jumped to a conclusion about something – before realizing or knowing the real circumstances? Is that a bit idealistic? Sure. Many of us are inflamed when we realize how uninformed we are or how our beliefs might not be what we thought.
Misinformation happens in all parts of society. It’s not just the young or the old; it’s every one of all socio-economic backgrounds. Yes, even the news media. But there are good reasons.
First, there is way too much information. We’re bombarded all day as communication devices are ubiquitous.
Second, some information is way too complicated. We’re living in a new world — thanks to technology, demographics, and the developing world. They are changing the way we work, live, and relax. Because it is complicated, some of the information we receive is simplified or dumbed-down.
Third, we don’t have enough time. We’re dealing with work, school, children, elderly parents, helping the community, and staying healthy. You barely have enough time to eat and sleep, let alone get informed.
Fourth, the news media is very confused too. The traditional media is trying to find us either at home, work, or on our communication devices. As a result, the media is trying to find the right niche of news and information that you want. And to be honest, they’re struggling to find the business model. Ad revenues are way down for traditional ad vehicles such as display advertising in newspapers and 30-second spots on TV. At the same time, revenues in the new media continue to grow but nowhere near what the old media has been getting. So unfortunately, too much of our news media is ridding themselves of experienced journalists who are skilled at explaining this new world. Instead, we get a lot of entertainment.
Fifth, education has something to do with it. Our educational levels have fallen over the past 20 years in comparison to other countries. Plus, pockets of society are grossly misinformed and under educated.
Sixth, there is too much money spent and made on misinforming us. Advertising, public relations, lobbying, blogging, blast emails, live speeches – from businesses, politicians, special interests – will deceive us to pry money from our pockets. I’m not saying this is illegal or immoral. You’ll have to decide that. I’m just giving you the reality – and hopefully the solutions here.
And after reading all these impediments to real solid and balanced knowledge, you’d be inflamed too.
We’ll cut through some of those hurdles here.