They say information is power. Wrong. Accurate information is power

July 18, 2022 5:45 am

We must become active listeners and smart consumers, argues columnist Janice Ellis. We must assume the responsibility of seeking the facts and accurate information for ourselves.(photo by Lido Frazao/iStock Images).

Facts and accurate information matter. But disinformation has been and continues to be front and center, negatively impacting our political process.

Somehow during the last several years in the public square, among our political leaders, some media outlets and social media platforms, often complete truth, facts and accurate information seem hard to find.

The adage that information is power must be revised in the political climate in which we find ourselves.

Having accurate information is power.

How can consumers be sure when we find ourselves being bombarded and swimming in a sea of disinformation, falling victim or becoming a partner unwittingly to someone’s sinister agenda.

In this environment, who can we trust to shoot us straight on a political issue that could not only impact and determine the course of our lives, but that of our communities and this nation?

We must become active listeners and smart consumers. We must assume the responsibility of seeking the facts and accurate information for ourselves.

Look at what happens when we do not.

Whether at the state or national level we face a number of critical issues that need the investment of our unbiased, open-minded attention, research and investigation when it comes to separating facts from fiction, real news from fake news, truth from lies, disinformation from misinformation.

No area is more critical in determining the future direction of this country than our conclusions about whether the 2020 election was stolen or whether the violent and deadly protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was a seditious insurrection.

The 2020 election and the January 6 violent insurrection have been so embroiled in lies and partisan politics that many have decided to ignore any attempt to discover the facts —facts that have been corroborated by multiple independent sources.

This seems to be the case with the January 6 committee hearings that are seeking to find the truth about how the disinformation regarding the 2020 election led to violence.

In the immediate and long-term, the future of this country depends on whether your perception and action about those two seminal events are based on lies or truth, distortions or facts.

A recent poll shows how many Americans are paying close attention to the January 6 hearings.

How will you decide what is real or false if you refuse to be open to assess what you read, hear and see? Or refuse to hear and see anything that may be different from one’s on beliefs, whether accurate or not.

There are other critical areas dividing our country, where it is important for you to assess the sources of information that you may rely on.

It is important that you know if those sources are trustworthy, and why.

What sources of information do you rely on to govern your beliefs and actions when it comes to: 1) understanding the difference between sensible gun control measures and the 2nd Amendment in the Constitution; 2) the complexity of the abortion issue; 3) the real causes of inflation and gas prices; 4) the reasons why COVID is still a challenge to our health and well-being.

These are issues that require us, as a collective body, to act on accurate, factual,  unbiased information — not only for the welfare of one’s family, but community, state and nation. It is all inextricably connected.

There are critical questions we must all ask ourselves: Are we easily misled, if so, why? Are we sitting ducks for some predatory leader’s agenda whether they are a family member or seasoned political leader seeking our support? Why do we gravitate toward a particular candidate? What keeps us following him/her, despite their detrimental speech and actions?

One thing is certain, if the January 6 hearings do nothing more, they make it very clear that we, as a country, are reaching a day of reckoning about what the last several years of disinformation have wrought.

The future of our democracy is on the line. A few immediate threats are in plain sight.

There are growing, more emboldened and violent extremist groups — many fueled by lies, systemic racism and separatist agendas.

Massive voter suppression efforts are taking place across the nation and have accelerated in recent years.

Institutions that have been the bedrock of our republic and its democratic form of government have been disrespected, marginalized and downright ignored, weaking confidence, patriotism and national pride that in the past have united us.

A recent Gallop poll shows Americans faith in our institutions is at an all time low.

But how this all plays out really comes back to us.

Do we really care about making a decision or pursing an action based on false, distorted information?

Do we care about the potential detrimental, in some cases, deadly consequences that result?

There is an adage that information is power. Today that adage no longer applies.

Accurate information is power.

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis

Janice Ellis has lived and worked in Missouri for more than three decades, analyzing educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. Her commentary has appeared in The Kansas City Star, community newspapers, on radio and now online. She is the author of two award-winning books: From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream (2018) and Shaping Public Opinion: How Real Advocacy Journalism™ Should be Practiced (2021). Ellis holds a Ph.D. in communication arts, and two Master of Arts degrees, one in communications arts and a second in political science, all from the University of Wisconsin.