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If you believe that the earth is flat, that space aliens built the pyramids, or that the Apollo moon landings were filmed on a Hollywood movie set, you will be able to find plenty of articles online supporting your opinions. Does that mean it is all true? Of course not, but it does show that you should use some caution while doing research online. To help kids better distinguish between fact and fiction online, the state of New Jersey has passed a new law requiring mandatory “K-12 Information Literacy Education.”
While this may sound fine on the surface, I think there are some good reasons to have reservations about this program. Recently, we have seen the government trying, often successfully, to censor views that they don’t like. Could this just be a partisan effort to discourage kids from learning things outside of the governments chosen narrative? The official press release from Governor Phil Murphy’s office says, “as we approach the two-year anniversary of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. It is incredibly important that our children are taught how to discern reliable sources and recognize false information.” It does seem interesting that this is the example they chose to go with.
When trying to determine which sources are the most reliable, what will they tell kids to rely on? Your mainstream TV networks and newspapers all reported on a Russian collusion story that turned out to be false. They told us with certainty that the Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation” when a little research could have proven that false. Will the new NJ program tell you that the tabloid, the New York Post, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani were the more reliable and trustworthy sources in this case?
When COVID vaccines came out, we were told they were both safe and effective. Now it seemed pretty obvious to me that the safety of something brand new is unknown. But people who questioned the safety and/or effectiveness were labeled as kooks by the more established media types. Olga Polites of the New Jersey chapter leader of Media Literacy Now said, “I love my Twitter, but I love my Philadelphia Inquirer more.” On the issue of vaccines, who had the better take, the Philadelphia Inquirer or some guy like Robert Malone on Twitter? Malone is a doctor who did extensive work with mRNA vaccines.
The fact is, there are often times when we don’t know the truth. Remember being told that you can’t get COVID if you are vaccinated And that vaccinated people can’t spread the virus to others? Sometimes more research is needed. Rather than encouraging students to have an open mind and see where the data leads, I fear this program will want students to rely on one mainstream narrative and discourage people from questioning that point of view. Last year the Federal government tried to set up a Disinformation Governance Board (aka, Ministry of Truth). I can’t help but think that what New Jersey is trying to do with this program is to create a more close-minded and compliant public. I don’t trust them.Published in