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Where do your facts come from? How do you discuss politics if you can't trust sources?

After bouncing around conservative, socialist, liberal, libertarian and everything in between discussions, I've noticed a concerning thing. They can't seem to agree on what is or isn't a fact. Sources are demanded, then quickly dismissed because "fake news"/liberal media/right wing.. Etc.
Even the long trusted middle-ish grounds are doubted (personally I think that's NPR, PBS, and BBC).
Fack checking sources like Snoops or Fact Check are also looked at with doubt.
This is one (there are many) of the huge issues I see with politics in general, but how can we hope to address or solve anything if people refuse to believe anything that doesn't support their sources or even more dangerous, their belief?
How can you solve any issue if your math, science, history is different from your counter parts?

By Jess2zz5
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Character, circumstances, plausibility

seattlepanda Level 7 Aug 12, 2018

Fair enough

@Jess2zz requires knowledge of character...


The disciplines of math and science are agnostic and apolitical. Likewise, facts are statements that reflect reality. As Senator Patrick Moynihan so famously noted, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

If a person with whom we seek a conversation subscribes to their own reality or 'alternative facts,' they cannot be reasoned with. Those who reject the authority of the consensus of experts in favor of pet theories or their favorite talk show host have, in essence, abandoned reason. And as my avatar wisely observed when addressing General Sir William Howe, "To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture."
Thomas Paine 1778

There may come a time when engagement is no longer productive, particularly if one's counterpart appears unwilling to empathize or consider alternatives. And we all know what comes after negotiations fail.

p-nullifidian Level 7 Aug 10, 2018

A bit of Common Sense goes a long way. Guess even Paine couldn't figure out how to get past the reality gap.

Just one minor correction: I think that you can hold reason in high esteem AND hold humanity in contempt at the same time.
Paine was an optimist who lived long before the ideals of the Enlightenment evaporated in the 20th century. I am not a humanist because it is so obvious that Homo sapiens is anything but a "rational animal"

@Matias Agreed. One can champion reason while holding humanity in contempt, though I would proffer that to do so is unreasonable. But then, like Paine, I am more of an optimist. Thus while recognizing our flaws, I tend to agree with Steven Pinker that our species has evolved over the centuries, as with each generation more are listening to the better angels of our nature.

@pnfullifidian And I tend to agree with John Gray that there has been made progress in some areas (science and technology above all) but that the idea that Humanity as such has evolved (in the sense of improved) is absurd.
Here is a wonderful review by John Gray on Pinker's new book


I look at the policy passed by each party when they have complete control and they both pass the same things. Media is def lies because they claim there is a difference in the two parties.

jorj Level 8 Aug 9, 2018

I hear you, though personally I feel there are differences just not as huge as some of us would like.
But I'm not just talking politics. This happens in science like flat earthers or anti vaxers. In history to an extent I can't even begin with, economics...everything.
How do you have the conversation when you can't even agree on reality, theory or evidence?

@Jess2zz your headline says how do u discuss politics? Nowhere do u ask about anything else, but for science e stuff I go to science organization and University studies. As far as having the conversation goes, I've come to the conclusion neither side of politics is any better than the other. There are some u can discuss things with but for the most part it is just brainwashed people repeating talking points. There's not many from either side u can talk logically and reasoned with. They both have agendas that force them to be dishonest and ignore anything they don't like.


@Jess2zz i took politics in the sense of the banter between both sides. For policy positions I use many sources. Hope that clarifies more about my overall talks about policy.


@jorj you're right, I didn't open it up to other areas as I meant to, but I appreciate your response.


Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. Long term.
This is how I sort out all the political BS in my mind.
Try RT for another perspective and decide for yourself which sources are most biased.

powder Level 8 Aug 9, 2018

Fair enough, But I already worth to keep center and center-ish on either direction. But what to do with the person speaking from sensationalist fringe outlets?


Whoops, also CNBC. Money is behind most news so I trust the financial news more.

ChadC66 Level 3 Aug 8, 2018

Money talks.


I have a tough time believing anyone in politics. There are very few I trust. The current crop of Republicans is especially troubling. Lies are proven to be lies daily.

I get most of my news from msnbc. I like Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. I trust smart people more.

ChadC66 Level 3 Aug 8, 2018

U mean Russia Maddow????

I'll watch msnbc, but sometimes I have to take long breaks from them. I can feel them trying to build a hysteria with panels and speculation. Maddow and Mathews do awonderful jobs giving real reasons to be hysterical without a 4 person panels to give "what ifs".


I get a kick out of shows that ask people on the street questions like: “Do you know who the Vice President is?” It is also disturbing. I know what I do. The conclusions are not always right, but I try to put my biases aside and research with the awareness everyone has an agenda. Everything is a transaction. Someone is always trying to sell me something. It is up to me to decide how much I am going to buy. I doubt this really answers the question. Buyer beware.

Omots Level 7 Aug 8, 2018

I think it's part of the answer.

@Jess2zz nice neck warmer in your picture. People seem to point fingers for everything. I just think people need to accept responsibility for the filtering they need to do by taking time out to check the facts. I like Bernie, but I have caught him embellishing. Once upon a time I would talk to people with different opinions and learn enough to rethink my position on issues. What I have found so frustrating is when what would normally be accepted as facts, are not. It is pointless to talk to the opposition if there is no respect for facts. Sorry, I have lost some friends this summer and your post touches on the problem I wish I could figure out.what to say.

@Omots he's the best neck warmer.
I'm sad to hear you have lost friends, I have too. This cycle had been hard on relationships. So I feel you.
Like you, I'm at a total loss on how to get back to a basis of what's real with those with different "knowledge" of what's happening.


Frankly ... If one hasnt adopted personal principles and sound understandings of history , psychology , economics and social theory to guide them through life , then what one can do productively with the info that ' all manner of news and opinion ' gives them is nothing but worthless , emotion- driven chaos !
Here's some books that I would recommend for every american to read to build a bulletproof philisophy of life .
" The peoples history of the United States " by Howard Zinn .
" Progress and Poverty " by Henry George "
" The culture of make believe " by Derrick Jensen .
" Manufactured consent " by Noam Chomsky .
" Das Capital " by Karl Marx .
" Wealth of Nations " by Adam Smith .
" To hell on a day coach " by peter Lyon .
" The Bible " by a bunch of dumb-fucks !

Scottzillyun Level 6 Aug 8, 2018

I find this chart useful for determining good sources for news.

GinaMaria Level 6 Aug 8, 2018

I post this all the time. Keep it in the green!!

I love this. Thank you.


Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Hitchens Level 8 Aug 8, 2018

Great book with wonderful examples of manipulation and misinformation. I like it.


There is too much editorializing and too little objective reporting now. Certain newscasters from the past were trusted because what they said, reported, was typically exactly what transpired; someone below mentioned Cronkite as one of those reporters. Now, with the rush to judgement about the "meaning" of every little thing everyone says, it can be difficult to look at a news item with objectivity. I always try to bear in mind that whatever any of those broadcasters says, they say with a degree of bias, sometimes that bias matches my own, sometimes not. When it does parallel my thinking that, of course, puts it closer to becoming a fact for me.

However, mostly what I tend to think of as "facts" are the bare, observable actual incidents and occurences; e.g. 45's rants against the NFL protesters, his constant name-calling and belittling of those who disagree with him, his demonization of the press, his racist innuendo, etc., etc., etc. Then, when I hear about policy decisions that reflect that mentality, and the support he and his minions give to that, and how they often ignore or abase opponents or critics of those policies; that further reinforces the negative pronouncements I perceive, through a given outlet, and so on.

Condor5 Level 8 Aug 8, 2018

As a society we need to get away from "first" and sensationalism. News used to be verified by multiple sources before it would be published. Now that we have Twitter a guy can see something, interpret it however he'd like, and then make it public knowledge in under a minute. If his video or tweet is liked, he gets millions of "likes" and that gets reported on by actual news sources that are trying to be first to the punch.

We need a nationally recognized federally mandated group of news organizations that regulate what can and cannot be called a "news organization" that focuses on clearly separating editorials from non-biased objective news. FOX News is not news, we all know that but the viewers don't. On the opposite side other news groups have done the same at times some more frequently than others but there is no repercussion for that, only higher ratings and more advertising revenue.

Personally I don't care if something is breaking news unless it's dangerous to me in the immediate. I wait until it has coverage from multiple major news sources before I start to compile the stories for the truth of what happened.

mattersauce Level 7 Aug 8, 2018

The phrase "breaking news" is the one most overused news hook that I really hate.


Firstly I’d check multiple sources and the parts that all or most of them confirm are probably true enough. Secondly I try not to discuss politics too often at all. It makes me ill, especially these days. 🤢

Wurlitzer Level 7 Aug 8, 2018

I know the feeling, I spent that entire election trying to convince people to care. Now, they do, and it's too late. Oh and they aren't voting in the midterms. Because they don't care THAT much....


Ok, I like you for quoting 3 great sources. You can add "Time", "Newsweek", "Politico," , and "The Hill" to that . If people can't see the fake sources from the good ones- it's sad, but be thankful for our slight cognitive advantage. There is nothing we can do to fix other people. You can't even move to other countries. It all comes and goes in cycles. One moment we had Obama - the best president of our lifetime- and now we have this. So don't move to Canada just yet. Eventually they will lose Trudeau.

UrsiMajor Level 8 Aug 8, 2018

There's nothing wrong with this land, but There's something wrong with the investment of how it's run by those who inhabit it. Less than half of eligible voters even bother with elections. Of that half (and that's generous), many are basing votes from fringe or far leaning points of views.
How many are voting not knowing what socialism actually is? Or that we have it on our system already? How many don't understand gun laws, or the how badly they are enforced? How deregulation pollutes their drinking water, but having regulations to broadly written can kill smaller businesses? It's that kind of balance, ability to play devil's advocate for themselves that's making an agreement of what's real soo damn difficult.
Sadly, that cognitive advantage means nothing without showing up and having a united front. Say what you want about trump or the reps(I'm sure we both have a lot to say), but they know how to unite when it counts.

@creative51 He should disturb everyone on some level. Pick an area: economics, environmental, social, legal, humanity...in at least one of those ways he should be disturbing.
Even some of his supporters don't like separating families at the boarder. Some others disliked the tariffs. (Of the ones I've spoken to).


Well the answer in my opinion is to not invest too heavily into a position unless you’re prepared to research it and that goes beyond just going onto google and typing stuff into the search engine. Additionally, I always try to put myself in the mindset of “okay, I will provisionally accept this as true if everything checks out, but if contradictory information emerges, then I need to reconsider my position”.

Wavefunction Level 5 Aug 8, 2018

Fair enough. How do you get the person you're speaking with take that research seriously and with genuine consideration?

@Jess2zz Well, as the old saying goes: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The best you can do is to follow this yourself. Ideologues of all strips will always seek to confirm their worldview rather than take it apart and to be fair to them, it is a difficult thing to do: to take apart or challenge your worldview.

@Jess2zz they dont. I've tried after doing extensive research (I'm a librarian, I know how to research!). My conservative brother in law and his buddies still tell me I'm full of shit.


A fact is what people agree upon. The sky is blue because we all agree that the color blue is called blue. Facts change over time. Science changes over time. We used to use mercury in dental fillings, we don’t any more because mercury is bad for humans to ingest. As we learn new things we change facts. Mercury was good, now is bad.

LeslieV2 Level 5 Aug 8, 2018

I disagree. Facts are facts regardless if you believe them. Facts do not change unless the circumstances that made them facts are in transition. Mercury was never good; humanity was mistaken. That causes things to be taken as fact that are not, but it didn’t keep mercury from making people mad as hatters. Science doesn’t care what you believe; it only changes its position to get more accurate as new information comes in. In those cases some old things that were taken as fact will be revealed to be not factual. That doesn’t mean they once were facts. They once were mistaken as facts.

I think I get what you're trying to say, but your example is a bit off. You're taking about new information, once that Information was found, adjustments were made. The fact is, mercury worked as a filling, sadly it wasn't known how dangerous it is.
As far as the sky being blue, yeah, but color is subjective. The colorblind or just straight up blind, changes that kind of conversion. A persons inability to see it for themselves or their different perspective or comprehension, doesn't change what actually is. That's why we need to have sources we can trust (even with some skepticism). We Have to be speaking from the same reality to make real progress.


A fact is what people agree upon. The sky is blue because we all agree that the color blue is called blue. Facts change over time. Science changes over time. We used to use mercury in dental fillings, we don’t any more because mercury is bad for humans to ingest. As we learn new things we change facts. Mercury was good, now is bad.

LeslieV2 Level 5 Aug 8, 2018

I think I get what you're trying to say, but your example is a bit off. You're taking about new information, once that Information was found, adjustments were made. The fact is, mercury worked as a filling, sadly it wasn't known how dangerous it is.
As far as the sky being blue, yeah, but color is subjective. The colorblind or just straight up blind, changes that kind of conversion. A persons inability to see it for themselves or their different perspective or comprehension, doesn't change what actually is. That's why we need to have sources we can trust (even with some skepticism). We Have to be speaking from the same reality to make real progress.


I think the trouble is less about the main stream media and reputable journalists but social media and the fake news which is proliferated on it! It is the perfect medium for pedalling lies and half truths. Reputable investigative journalists still check their sources, but all news is now becoming suspect and the public are unable to distinguish fact from fiction.

Marionville Level 9 Aug 8, 2018

Sad but true. I worry that having polar opposites who are existing in different realities (in their heads) are too loud, perpetuating exactly what you're talking about. I'd really like to see that end.


I actually try to avoid political conversations, or discussions.

But I can answer your question in something else.
Before I'll make a point, or retort about something in History, Science, Cosmology etc.
I will look up many different sources, preferably papers from Published peers of a certian topic.
That's how I was taught in school how to do.
I think it's the most effective way in my opinion.

TristanNuvo Level 8 Aug 8, 2018

It's a great way, well thought out and supported. But from what I've observed and experienced, it is ignored at a concerning rate. I've watched debates where one person drops 20 sources of supporting data (gov't, news paper, interviews), and it just doesn't matter. The other person name calls and ignores that data just because they know it's wrong. I don't know how we fix that on a large scale. One person at a time is just too slow.

@Jess2zz I agree. name calling or raising your voice is a sure sign that they have no empirical evidence to bring to the table.

@TristanNuvo but man, it's a hell of a way to distract and take you off topic.


I have wondered this myself. There must be some way to test for truthfulness and bias rather than just saying I believe what this group is saying because I like it or it just makes sense to me.

thislife Level 7 Aug 8, 2018

That's what I'm trying to figure out. How do we get past the "I have to believe" mentality? I've met a few that were willing to listen to my very much opposite of their views. Though happy and even lucky for that, it takes hours. The longest was 6 hours. And he called me 12 hours later to inform me he changed his mind on some things. 3 months later he told me he did some research and decided I was right. 6 hours of talking, 3 months of thinking on it, and it's the best outcome I've had.

@Jess2zz That's some powerful talking. It shouldn't be that hard though, right?

@thislife you would think it shouldn't be, but it is. I actually had one of those talks yesterday for about an hour. It was only that short because he had an appointment. On the flip side, it should be hard to change minds. If it was easy, then no one would stand for anything.
My problem is changing thoughts based in falsehoods or incomplete thinking or just plan ignorance, is incredibly difficult. That's what's troubling me.

@Jess2zz That makes sense. Logical thinking is so underrated.

@Jess2zz you should consider crafting this whole notion into a TED Talk. Seriously, it's a much more worthwhile topic than some I've seen.


@Condor5 thank you, That's a wonderful complement.
To be honest, I've always wanted to have a small public group to have discussions like this, in person. I never figured out how to start such a thing.

@Jess2zz I would encourage you, honestly, to consider doing a TED Talk on this; it is a very worthwhile topic. You are obviously very bright, and I do not doubt you could do it.


@Condor5 I'll look it up. Not sure how far I'll get but it's worth a try. Thank you.

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