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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Communication is what makes us human: More tips for thinking, writing and speaking in a world of quicksand communications

76. There is a Santa, and also, there isn’t.

How much TV should anyone watch? How much screen time should kids be allowed? Should we resist or succumb to a sedentary lifestyle? Is eating red meat dangerous? Is wine good for you? There is a time and place for magical thinking. We all need a unicorn once in a while, and a leprechaun is lovely to behold. When the stakes are much higher and affecting our lives and health, it is good to trust in solid science and the scientific method. It is a formula that tests for truth and helps us to distinguish what we wish from what is real.
77. At first glance, ask where is the evidence?
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” is the famous quote by Britain’s Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. I’ve seen a lifetime of data on the impact of television violence prove both pro and con. The same for video games and now screen time. But, rather than see this as no help at all, it underscores the importance of critical thinking. It’s better to know that sometimes data is manipulated in unethical studies to prove what the funders want funded. It’s important to follow the money to test the bias of a research study.
78. Ask, “Who gains? Who loses?”
Coke or Pepsi? A walk or a swim or an evening on the couch? In any question that requires your participation or support there is a score-card of winners and losers. Media literacy is a good way to learn which questions to ask. A favorite of mine is, "Who profits or benefits" if you buy this product or idea, or vote for this candidate instead of another?
79. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we can fall for it regardless of how prepared or smart we are.
Does someone in a powerful position lean in too close to try to make you swoon? Time to turn on the lights and sirens. Power is intoxicating, and if you’ve ever had too much alcohol to drink, the metaphor becomes clearer and more useful. Bosses, teachers and others in power are only human and may unintentionally or not forget that what they say and do may have extra meaning in the eyes of their students or employees.
80. Check your bias lately?
Sound more sirens when you notice you are leaning to one side or another. For journalists, confirmation bias is a pitfall that can bankrupt both a reputation and a publication.  ­­­ Confirmation bias can be described as an influence or desire on certain beliefs, when a person wants something to be true they make themselves believe it really is true. But we all have something to learn from this common problem in thinking.

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