As more Americans turn to the Internet for political information that helps them cast their vote, they risk being exposed to a growing cache of horrendous lies, half-truths and twisted cause and effect logic.
A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts showed that 54 percent of U.S. adults went online to get political information during the last election in 2010.
At the same time, the nonpartisan FactCheck.org watchdog group cites no fewer than 30 political lies circulating on the Internet through viral e-mails, websites and bloggers.
A few examples: Did Obama allow Chinese companies to build U.S. bridges with stimulus money? No.
Will the new health care law raise Medicare’s monthly premium to $247 in 2014? No.
Did Obama say no servicemen can speak at any faith-based public event? No. . . .
FactCheck refers to some of these claims as “widely circulated falsehoods,” “ridiculously false claims” and that others contain “fabricated quotes.” . . .
Websites of legitimate news organization are very solid places to start. It’s not to say news organizations don’t get things wrong, but they have built in mechanisms through editors and their audiences that require the vast majority of them to print and publish corrections when they are wrong.
If it’s difficult to find out who runs a website or who is behind it, or if you’ve never heard of it, be wary. . . .
Casting an informed vote is not always easy but it is crucial in a democracy. The old saying “Don’t believe everything you read,” is even more relevant for everything your read on the Internet.
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind., on abuse:
Residents of Anderson, Ind., were recently shocked and outraged over the report of a local man stabbing to death a girlfriend’s dog and eight puppies.
The alleged attack followed reports that the boyfriend choked his live-in girlfriend when she refused to give him a portion of her tax refund. The girlfriend fled; the dogs could not.
Many of us would rationalize that, thankfully, the woman was not killed. But pet lovers see the tragedy as a clear indicator of domestic violence. In fact, animal-rights groups and humane societies have long seen a connection between abuse of animals and violence against humans.
The cycle of domestic violence has an all-too-familiar pattern. How many times have we heard this scenario: An abused child grows up to harm a spouse or other children. In the last few years, there has been growing evidence that the abuse of pets and animals should be added to that cycle where one aggressive act leads to another. Those who torture a pet in their adolescence may be rehearsing for future abuse to humans.