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Spin-Free Your Mind 2  –  "A CMW Featured Article"

 

Surviving the Information Storm
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How Not to be Overwhelmed by Information, Data, and Sources

© Copyright – Robert A. Pritchett - March 7, 2010
All Rights Reserved

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Life in the new millennium is going to be different, from here on out.  Mind-bending opportunities are being revealed daily. Information and knowledge is everywhere.  If something can be known, it will be known or it will be found out – and published.  We have access to newspapers, magazines, articles, books, tapes, CD’s, videos, DVD’s, TV, Cable, Satellites, PDF’s, MP3’s, Podcasts, and, of course, the Internet.  If you want to know, now, more than ever, you can know (but you still might have to pay something to find out).

 

 

As wonderful and wild as the Internet is, it really doesn’t solve all of your information acquiring problems.  To quickly see this, all you have to do is insert a topic, an idea, or word into a search engine and “click” – you will be presented with thousands and thousands of links to thousands and thousands of websites.  You know you can’t visit and read all of them – how will you select the ones that you will visit and read?

 

 

As I see it, the problem has shifted from how to find information – to – how to cut down and limit the amount of information that you have to sort thru.  And when I say “limit” I don’t mean cut out or eliminate your access to information; I mean develop a “strategy” or “system” to quickly scan, select, and evaluate the informational candidates to be read and used. Time-Saving strategies must be a component of any Informational Processing System. The amount of information out there is truly overwhelming, but it’s never enough.

 

A personal “information processing system” comprised of principles, experiences, and scanning skills, optimized for the way you live your life will lead you to the knowledge and information that you desire and require. However, even after you acquire the information, it must be evaluated and labeled before possible use: “correct”, “incorrect”, “misleading”, “inaccurate” – or more frightening, “disinformation” which could be worse than “no information”. Sooo, you really need three (3) systems – a system to acquire information, a system to evaluate information, and a system to use the information. You need a vision -- you need a plan.

 

 

It would take a book and a seminar to convey all of the points and implications of the preceding paragraph: words have meaning and implications. And it just so happens that I am completing work on a book on the topic of restructuring your thinking and decision making processes. This article addresses some of the issues covered in the book:

 

 

Mental Systems / Human Systems

“Tools for Life” featuring CELS*Thinking

 

Please visit – www.CreativeMindworkshop.com 

 

 

There is a tendency in Western Civilizations to always look for a quick and cheap fix to any problem. This is not automatically bad, but it certainly isn’t automatically good.  Oftentimes, when trying to fix problems quickly, scant consideration is given to considering past and present issues, the cultural influences, who the major players (actors, i.e. decision-makers) are and were, and past attempts at repairing “this” problem. We at CMW believe that a certain amount of time and effort must be expended determining the scope, history, past attempts, and issues surrounding the problem under consideration – in this case, discovering, interpreting, processing, evaluation, and using information from diverse sources.  The goal is to help cut out (select) the information you want and need from the Informational Storm we Americans must endure everyday.

 

 

Values Clarification – What is your Worldview?

 

 

Napoleon Bonaparte, the 17th century French Emperor, claimed that his mind was like a chest of drawers, and each subject is stored neatly in its special place. And when he was through thinking about a certain subject, he would close the drawer on that subject and would open another drawer for another topic; all thoughts about the former topic safely tucked away from view and interference with the current thinking topic.  An interesting concept, don’t you think?  But is this practical or desirable?  How does your head operate?

 

 

I’ve met people with one-track minds. And I’ve met people whose creative thinking links everything in the world with everything else in the world. I believe that both approaches have their values and weaknesses. But an important question that you must ask yourself is, “do I have a system, a strategy, a method for comprehending, interpreting, and understanding the information that is coming at me?” The last place you want to find yourself, is drowning in a sea of information, from multiple sources, recorded and stored in multiple formats, with no ideas of how you are going to separate out and find the “facts” or “information”, or enlightenment that you need.

 

 

Your “Worldview” is your most personal, intimate view of the world around you.  It includes what you think about yourself, your family and friends, your relatives, your country, your world, your job and career, politics, education, art, sex, health, facts, knowledge, language, science, ministers, officials, police, military, friendship, lying, truth-telling, history, competition, discovery, sports, entertainment, history, God, Jesus Christ, spirituality, and religion. These are your truest thoughts and feelings about your life and the world around you – and in you. You may never tell anyone about these beliefs and thoughts, but you use these to perceive, interpret, and understand life, reality, and everything. Your worldview is thoughts, feelings, insights, and impressions that you use to understand yourself, life, and the world.

 

Most people are taught a basic Worldview by their parents and family. It is further influenced by friends, education, church, and the ubiquitous “so-called” Mainstream Media (MSM). Businesses, Organizations of all stripes, clubs, political parties, and various media outlets all have agendas and messages that they want you to internalize and use to make your all-important life decisions, such as how you spend your money, what causes you will support, and how you will vote! Unless you take charge and impose order and a system on this information storm, your head and heart will be as a cork bobbing on the ocean waves during a tempest. And the place to start is with your Worldview.

 

 

Your worldview must be periodically re-examined and re-evaluated.  There are things that you have believed since you were a child; but how many of those things are still true? {Think Santa Claus?}

 

LIFECYCLE OF A NEWS STORY OR POLITICAL ISSUE

 

The initial news reporting on some issue or story may present a certain picture, impression, and understanding; but later when more “facts” come in, the reality of the situation has completely changed. Let’s take “Global Climate Change” (a PR upgrade from the term “Global Warming”). Although they deny collusion, all of the MSM News outlets have continuously reported and amplified the global warming hysteria, repeating Al Gore’s claims that the debate is over. {by the way, do you remember when “that” debate was taking place in the country?}

 

First, are we not talking about Science? Okay then, where is all of the scientific data showing that global warming is now taking places? There is none! The data that the “hockey stick” computer model was based on has been destroyed. 

 

{Enter => “climategate scandal” into a search engine like Google or Bing.}

 

However, President Obama and many other Leftist organizations are still demanding punishing tax increases and forfeitures of individual liberties all in the name of a non-existent crisis which is actually a hoax, a money and power grab, to punish the American People, transferring our money and freedoms overseas. You want more proof?

 

What percentage of the Earth’s atmosphere is Carbon Dioxide? 10% . . . 25% . . . 50% . . .? The answer is 0.03 percent. That’s right! Carbon Dioxide is less than one percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Even if we tripled the amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, there would still be less than one percent of the Earth atmosphere Carbon Dioxide. That’s right, that’s the reason that they always discuss the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in tons – to disguise and to deceive the American Public.

 

That’s right, our so-called “Best and Brightest” have decided to pull a fast one on the citizens of the United States, and our President is helping them. Our so-called “Elites”, East-West- Coast-Ivy-League privileged and educated, and their fellow travelers, are currently engaged in a Major Money and Power Grab. And by using carefully designed messages, repeated without question or analysis by the so-called mainstream media, the “Elites” are about to vacuum huge sums of money out of the pocket of the American Taxpaying Public. Right now, the next big government policy issue to be considered by Congress is the “green jobs” proposal called “Cap-and-Trade” –or– as its PR upgrade now calls it “The American Power Act”, which will double electric bills and force gasoline prices above $5.00 per gallon, or more. Watch for it.

 

Check for yourself – put the following into Google or Bing:

“climategate scandal”

“what percentage of the Earth’s atmosphere is carbon dioxide”

“Cap and Trade” or “American Power Act”

 

Every major belief that you hold in your head and heart should be re-examined in light of the new reality. What have you learned in recent years that has helped you to make better quality decisions (BQD), or to function better in your life, on your job, or at your school?


Many issues that are reported by the so-called mainstream media outlets are reported from a liberal worldview, a perspective that you yourself might hold. But if you want to get to the bottom of any thinking task, you must examine that issue from not only a liberal viewpoint, but a conservative viewpoint, and/or a moderate viewpoint, or a Biblical viewpoint, or a scientific viewpoint, or a logical viewpoint, or a emotional viewpoint, or a spiritual viewpoint. We have discovered that after exposing your mind to multiple viewpoints, then you will be able to see more “facts”, more implications, and more insights leading to a deeper understanding of the thinking task.


So the first step toward building a new thinking system, a new information evaluation and processing system is re-examining your worldview! Then study the information coming at you from multiple viewpoints before settling on just one, for that particular question! Of course, this process must be repeated for each new thinking task. Have you re-examined your Worldview to insure that it is serving you well? Has your Worldview ever mislead you before? Has your Worldview helped you manage your money more skillfully? Has your Worldview helped you to graduate from school, gain the job you wanted, gained you respect from friends and associates? Can you trust your worldview all of the time or must you abandon it when you need to think about certain subjects? Is your Worldview consistent? Does your Worldview need to be completely re-worked?

 

Sources:  Who is Presenting the Information?

 

Another important area of information processing that you should carefully consider so that you can successfully weather the Information Storm is – Sources.


Where is the information coming from? Is the source trustworthy? Does the source have an agenda, something that they want to accomplish? Do you agree with their agenda? Does this news or information source present the information in a consistently honest, balanced, and analytical fashion? I have found that locating several sources of information – liberal, conservative, moderate, spiritual, scientific, and logical – is an important first step when beginning any thinking task. After informing yourself about the various basic viewpoints, you can begin the process of evaluating, interpreting, accepting, rejecting, and/or modifying how to view this information.

  

Interestingly enough, this seems to be a point that the President of the United States takes seriously. On more than a couple of occasions, the President seems to want to steer the American Public to his approved information sources. Or he wants to influence the reporting of major news and information outlets. Now it’s obvious, President Obama, like most of his predecessors, doesn’t want the news media second-guessing his decisions and policies. Nor does he want any other group, including the news media, second-guessing, analyzing, dissecting, and evaluating the truthfulness and accuracy of his messages – but this is exactly what the Founding Fathers of this great country expected. Their belief and confidence was that free and diverse reporting, by multiple news organizations, holding multiple and diverse political viewpoints, would best serve the public – and help to protect freedom and liberty.

 

Think it through, the President of the United States is a information source – with an agenda. So are the New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, MSNBC News, and Fox News. What if a news organization has the same agenda as the President of the United States? What if a news organization has a different agenda – including getting a more in depth understanding of the numbers that the government is reporting, discovering if those numbers are, indeed, accurate, and if the reported implications are valid? What if a news organization investigates a government policy and discovers that it isn’t cost effective, or worse, that it isn’t working at all? Should that be reported?

 

There should be a basic tension between the news media and government leaders – Journalists are doing a job for the public that we cannot easily do for ourselves. I fear that in this particular political climate, the “so-called” mainstream media has adopted the old Soviet Union model of Journalism, supporting and parroting only the government’s “official” position – no fact checking, no investigation, no peeking behind the curtains – only yea and okay! This is scary and dangerous to the survival of a free and prosperous people and their society.

  

Evaluating information sources is a complicated, difficult task that must be done. And for this function, you must not allow so-called brand name news outlets or star-power news presenters persuade you without supporting evidence. Since the 9-11 attack on America, the world has changed socially, politically, economically, culturally, and spiritually; many of the old standards and values have been swept away. You must seek to perceive the agenda and value system that a news or information source uses, and how that agenda and value system affects how they present information. And, most importantly, you must do this on every news or informational story they present because different reporters, editors, and producers work on each story.

 

Bias, slant, and spin have several opportunities to taint the reporting of a news story, especially a political news story. First, journalists gather the raw information from various sources – documents, photos, and individuals (government officials, law enforcement, actors, players, citizens, students, workers). Next, they must process that information thru their personal evaluation system, based on past experiences, context against which this event took place, and human intuition. {Can you see how one’s Worldview might influence a Journalist’s reporting, or even your understanding of the reporting?} But after the reporter hands over his or her story, it then goes thru an organizational evaluation process which may or may not add bias to a story. Sometimes the Publisher or Editors of a news organization may decide to hide or bury a news story because of bias, politics, or fear.

 

Here’s an example of a news story being buried or hidden because of bias and politics. The collapse of the United Nations’ Human-Caused Global Climate Change story – Climate Gate. Within the past few months, since the release of hidden and suppressed information about climate change data, eMails about the activities of key scientists, and the flimsy underpinnings of the whole argument – careers are being destroyed, and a global scam has been revealed. Lies, fabrications, lost or destroyed data, character assassinations – this story has all of the “juicy” ingredients (except sex) that we Americans love in our scandals. However, because the “so-called” mainstream media has chosen a side, they are working to deceive the American Public on this issue. The MSM are refusing to report on this important topic and are still trying to prop up the collapsing belief in and support for the Human-Caused Global Warming Theory and Agenda. The so-called mainstream media’s decision to try to keep Americans in the dark on this Global Scandal could have catastrophic consequences for your life. Right now, President Barak Obama and the Democratic Party are planning a massive tax increase on the American Public (up to $3,000 per family a year in increased Energy Costs) called “Cap-and-Trade”, and the so-called mainstream media is working continually to support this effort. [Author Note: “Cap-and-Trade” supporters are currently trying to repackage this job-killing, freedom-stealing, personal-wealth destroying bill under the new name “American Power Act”.]

 

Many news stories start off saying one thing, by certain persons. However, over time what is being said, and by who, may change greatly. Therefore to do a really professional job of evaluating information sources, you need – a “News & Information Evaluation Notebook”. To understand most news stories, you need to look at the historical context and background against which the event or action took place; and who are the major players and actors, and what is their background and relationship to the story.

 

Creating and Using your

News & Information Evaluation Notebook


So you can observe and evaluate, over time, the quality and integrity of a news and information source, be they “talking heads”, news anchors, professors, teachers, ministers, friends, family, professionals, or politicians, you need a method, a way to track the changes in a story, by who, and why. And over time, your News & Information Evaluation Notebook will reveal a source to be either fair, balanced, accurate, and true –or– misleading to an agenda. Some sources may be revealed to be only useful for certain kinds of information and not others.


This notebook could be as simple as a steno pad notebook or a three-hole notebook – or you could have a digital notebook on your computer where you store information about the quality of your news and information sources, what they said and when. The point is to have a place where you can write down your observations about the news, sources, messages, accuracy, propaganda, and agendas. By documenting news or information stories, what was originally reported, its sources, its “facts”, its dates, you will have a personal fact track to retrace. How does the “story” change over time? Do the sources change their claims? Have more or new “facts” come out? Is there a difference in the reporting on this story from a different news source?

 

A “News & Information Evaluation Notebook” is necessary because we cannot remember everything that the “talking heads” said.  A story might come out on Monday and the talking heads (the news reporters, anchormen, anchorwomen, and politicians) will spin it a certain way. Later that week, the news presenters may be spinning the story a different way – would you remember the shift and change?  Could you detect why there was a shift and change? A “News & Information Evaluation Notebook” may very well reveal something about your personal thinking and reasoning processes that will help you make better quality decisions (BQD) in the future.  But it might also reveal something about the trustworthiness of the information source.

  

Case-in-Point:  We all were shocked at the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and Mississippi in 2005.  Most of the “so-called” mainstream media reported that much crime and mayhem was taking place in New Orleans Superdome, and more than 10,000 peoples were killed – rapes, robberies, and murders were common occurrences. Well, it turned out that all of that reporting was false. Why do you think that this was reported? Was there an agenda? Can you think of other cases where the so-called mainstream media’s reporting was so wrong? How about their reporting of the most recent Middle East conflict – Israel vs Hezbollah. Is this a good example of bias reporting, or does this make the case for examining sources for their agenda?


Tuning Out the Din


As Americans, there is constant assault on our senses, a constant push to think a certain way, feel a certain way, buy certain things, support certain causes, vote for a certain party. These persuasive messages are everywhere: billboards, newspapers, fliers, radio, TV, the Internet, clothing, trucks, and buses. I believe one of the most sneaky hidden persuader is the 10 to 30-second News update; the way this works is during commercial breaks on a network show, they put on this “talking head” journalist to read the “latest” news headlines on several stories of their choosing. By using this technique they can repeat and drum into your head a viewpoint that they want you to internalize. Of course, the news update does not have time for the whole story or opposing viewpoint, but the design of the headline is to invoke a certain emotion and encourage an acceptance of a certain viewpoint.  I’m sure you will notice other, similar examples.

  

My fellow Americans, our heads and hearts are under constant assault from the electronic information sources. We need thinking and reflecting time. Time away from our iPods, MP3 players, radios, CDs, and televisions. Times of quiet in our homes and cars, so we can reflect on what we really think and feel about the information that is coming at us. It is during times of silence when creative thoughts and ideas can leap to the front of our consciousness. And its during times of silence when our true thoughts and emotions can be ascertained.

 

Standing Up for Your Info Selections


After you re-examine your Worldview, which controls how you view and interpret the world, your views on some subjects or issues may begin to shift and change. After you begin to re-examine your information sources, over time, by using a “News & Information Evaluation Notebook”, you may begin to trust different information sources.  As you “Free Your Mind” from the constant din of messengers screaming at you for your attention and action, you may begin to feel different. You may change your positions on politics, sports, education, entertainment, opinion, news, and life. And if you do, your friends might think that you’ve been brainwashed. But if you create a systematic way of evaluating information and use it on a regular basis, you should have confidence in your new positions and stand your ground – unless it can be demonstrated (without screaming and name calling) that you are incorrect. We should always be prepared to change our position on subjects, issues, policies, or decisions to reflect truth and reality – yet not submitting to screaming opinions, nor sheepishly conforming just to get along.

 

This day could be the beginning of something big in your life.  You may gain from this exercise, a brand new worldview and a brand new world, plucked from the Information Storm.

  

Information coming at you should be systematically evaluated. Here’s a basic “consideration structure” for creating your own evaluation system:

  

(1) – Use your worldview to strip away the “spin”, the obvious lies, the misrepresentations, and fuzzy clarity from the information and messages that are coming at you.  Do you really, really want to know the truth – even if it might upset your applecart, so to speak.  I had a poster once that said “The truth will make you free, but first it will make you miserable”. I’ve found that to be true, oftentimes.

  

(2) – Use Logic to evaluate the reasonableness of what is being presented to you. You must make a habit of using logic as a required part of your personal information evaluation system. Ask yourself: “Is there anyway that this information and message could be true”? Then ask yourself: Is there anyway that this information and message could be false”? Does the information presenter have an agenda, or are they presenting multiple viewpoints and understandings? Does the information or message make sense?  Have you seen anything like this in the Past?

 

(3) – Check your “News & Information Evaluation Notebook”.  Are these messages similar to things that you’ve seen or experienced in the Past. Did you learn about this in school before?  Have you read any books or articles on this subject before?  How does this relate to anything in the recent past or ancient history? Based on your recordings to your “News & Information Evaluation Notebook”, is this news source reliable and trustworthy? Has this story evolved into something else? Have the “facts” changed?

 

(4) – Have you checked with additional sources to get a wider view and understanding of the message and information that you are being presented.  Is the information source trying to inflame your emotions to by-pass your personal evaluation system, to make you rush to a understanding and position? What have you done to get additional background information about the message or information coming at you? What have you done to get additional background information about the Messenger?

 

(5) – Have you consider the information and/or message in silence before choosing a final position?  Don’t be afraid of the Silence. In America, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to have a single quiet moment; however, I think that you pay a price for that.  Reconsider your worldview in silence. Reconsider your life in silence.  Unless you are simply listening to a familiar instrumental piece of music, there are messages imbedded in the song – persuading you, brainwashing you, attempting to make up your mind about something.  Free Your Mind.  This is how you weather the “Information Storm”.

 

(6) – Our most God-like quality is your ability to choose. And this is what is under constant assault. Our Freedom of Speech, our Freedom to Decide for ourselves is hateful to many people, including members of various Groups, Organizations, and Movements, including many persons in our Government. What is the underlining purpose or agenda of those Groups, Organizations, or Movements? If, for example, a group is against the use of fossil fuels, what do you think about the information that they would give you about Oil and Gas? What about Hate Crime Laws? Supporters or Opponents?

 

(7) – Search Engine Results – Screening Tips. Whenever you put a word or phrase into a search engine, it normally returns hundreds and thousands of results posted on several pages. Businesses, Organizations, Governments, and Individuals can pay to insure that their websites appear on the first page of results. No problem. But you need to know this. However, what about the rest of the result pages? Here’s an approach I’ve used with some success: Look at every one of the first 5 to 7 result pages; then I skip several result pages (for example, I’ll look at page numbers 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 . . . or 10, 15, 20 . . . ). No, I’m not going to every website that is on the result page! I read and evaluate each summary on the result page, and I look at its URL (its internet address, www.---.com) to get some idea of who is offering the information. With search engine results, I believe in exploring “serendipity” sometimes – you never know what type of discovery you will find. But remember your commitment to getting a more complete picture of reality, look for websites representing multiple sides of an issue, from trusted sources.

 

(8) – Beware of Celebrity Pitchmen and Women: Celebrities are chosen to get instant credibility, recognition, and to draw interest to a product, organization, or cause. The celebrity might be an actor, sports hero, a writer, a movie star, a teacher, a politician, or even the President of the United States – but the purpose of using them to deliver the message is to invoke in you a positive emotional feeling, and that feeling is suppose to make you more likely and willing to accept the message they are sending, and to make you take a certain action. Sure, take note of the Celebrity and their message – but do not give them a free pass – process their message and information thru your normal information evaluation system – make them prove their point!

 

(9) – Your Personal News Update: When following a story, trend, or event – once you believe you have a clear, fundamental understanding of the basic components of a story, this means that now you can just focus on the new and different information about a story. This means that you no longer need to do a complete re-cap every time that you want to track the progress of a story. You can just “update” your understanding with just the new facts – what’s new, what’s more, or what’s different?

 

(10) – Beware of “Push Polls”. A push poll is a device and technique used by news media agencies to push certain information and ideas into the public’s consciousness, the news cycle, and various news stories. Of course, the news outlets would never call them by that name. Normal polling is used to determine the mindscape of the public, where they stand on a certain issues or policies. A push poll asks questions designed to push the public’s thinking toward a certain conclusion, by making it seem that there is momentum growing for a certain policy position. For Example:

 

They could ask a question like this – “Should the President boycott Fox News?”, then follow up the next day with: “Today’s poll showed that 30% of Americans support that position – up from 29% last week”.


This is how it has been used, asking questions design to lead or “push” public opinion. It is actually a subtle form of manipulation.


(11) – Use Investigative Probe Questions – H5W – Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How! – These are the basic questions that Journalists, Writers, Thinkers, and Researchers use when they are trying to get the bottom of some subject. For example, if you were a reporter and you arrived on the scene where something had happened, you would use the H5W questions to help you to figure out what had transpired. What happened? Who did it? Why did they do it? Where did they do it? How did they do it? And when did this event transpire? In the process of getting the answers to the H5W questions, your understanding would begin to expand and other questions could then occur to you. Don’t dismiss this important set of questions – they can be powerful servants pointing the way towards Truth!

. . . . The End . . . .

 Please visit – www.CreativeMindworkshop.com

 

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