Because of the rainbow of different media flavors in this country and around the world, many people, on both sides of the political parties, are far too selective and discriminatory in their news sources. We seek out material that affirms our beliefs and points of view, and shun those that do not. Much has been said recently on the future of the Republican party and the conservative movement as a whole. There have been calls for adaptation, altering strategies or adopting more progressive versions of our beliefs. Right or wrong, that’s to be decided by the party as a whole on a case by case basis, and probably a much more organic process than simply saying yea or nay. But, one thing that I believe could do an outstanding amount of good is if we as conservatives would broaden our sources of information.
Certainly conservative blogs (like this one) have their place, but mostly as commentary, mobilization or for the conservative community’s enrichment. They should be supplements, pointing readers in the right direction and presenting the issues that should be being discussed. They should not be sole sources of information. Nor should any single news outlet or pundit. I may agree with Fox and Wall Street Journal op-ed’s, but I do not lull myself into thinking they are the only opinions or view points out there. There are a myriad of differing opinions. Daily Kos will have a far different point of view of Republican opposition of the stimulus package than will Hot Air.
Because I believe that Daily Kos is wrong, whether intentionally or not, is irrelevant. It’s the information that I am interested in. It’s understanding why this opinion exists. These things don’t materialize out of thin air, after all. There is a reason. If you can understand as many viewpoints as possible you can gain a better understanding of why you hold the one that you do. Your motivation for doing so can be as varied as the sources you read. Whether its ammunition for argument, curiosity, education, or for molding your own opinion, it really doesn’t matter. Personally, I check all of the above.
The reason I say this is very often on conservative blogs (and liberal), comments sections and posts are caught up in that new buzz word, ‘echo chambers’. Everyone is repeating what they heard someone else say. It serves very little for a group of people to simply be reassuring each other of their ‘rightness’. This phenomenon is called confirmation bias, and has been studied extensively. A person put into a room with other like minded people will leave that room with a far more hardened and extreme version of their original viewpoint, simply by hearing others with the same ideas. Confirmation bias is deadly to innovation and the enemy of original thought. Innovation and original thought, coincidentally, are several of the pillars of the conservative movement; and more necessary now in the wake of dual election losses than ever before.
Knowledge is power, a trite saying maybe, but nonetheless true. And the key to knowledge is information coupled with thought.
So, I challenge conservatives everywhere to begin reading Al Jazeera. Many of you will cringe at the thought. An Islamic news website? Yes. The viewpoints and bias will challenge you, maybe even anger you; but I guarantee that you will leave enlightened to the way we are viewed by billions. Read the Focus and Your Views sections to hear the voices of Muslims around the world, maybe even join the conversation. I’m not asking you to agree with any of it, I certainly don’t agree with most. My hope, however, is that you leave with a more humanistic understanding of the issues that we face in the Middle East, and in doing so, we can advance the national dialogue into it’s next chapter.
For those that need more motivation, I leave you with this:
What are you, scared? Don’t be a baby about it, the link is right up there.