Media literacy lesson: What’s the sound of one person lying. Often, the truth.

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012

Sound like a Zen riddle but true: The best way to lie to people is with hard facts.

Ask the spin doctors their little secret.  One important for good media literacy. That using facts and telling the truth is a great way to lie. In fact it’s the best and most effective way. I’ll show you how it’s done. Let me tell you about my friend, Dave.

I can say these things about my friend Dave:

1. Dave is Jewish.
2. I know Dave owns and iPod.
3. I know Dave is financially secure.

Therefore, I can tell you with confidence that Jews with money own the media.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, anti-semite (which I’m not, hang on)” I hear you in blog reading land say, “How can you say that?”

To tweak you on I could say, “How could I not?” The facts I laid are indisputable. My friend is Jewish, owns an iPod, which is media and has money. Fact. Fact. And Fact. And I can point out other many other Jews in the same position. Fact. Therefore, the facts lead to the conclusion that Jews with money own the media.

Of course it’s not true. But I didn’t lie, did I? You can’t accuse me of lying because the facts are right, but the rub is that my CONCLUSION AND/OR SUBJECTIVE ANALYSIS OF THE FACTS I COLLECTED was wrong.

And that’s how you can lie. Adding up bits and pieces of found facts to create a sum of wrong conclusions.

When taking in or consuming media. Especially media that is arguing a point of view, it is important for media literacy to learn to even put facts in relevant context. Products and companies and idea advocates will argue and present facts that best reflect their point of view. Search for context outside the context given and see if the facts presented seem just a relevant. A tactic that works from business presentations to buying a car to commercials to political messaging.

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