Farm to Fiction: Primary Sources and Fake News

The one thing I would recommend the most for anyone who wonders about media and misrepresentations of reality—fake news—I would emphasize the importance of reading primary sources for yourself. If you really want to understand a subject, you need to get as close to the origin as possible. As soon as you start to do this for any subject and you find the original article and learn something about the writer and the economy of the times, you will be much more able to speak confidently about the subject and to understand that you might know a lot less about other subjects than you had imagined. 

We live in an age of wild mischaracterizations and flagrant flaunting of truthfulness. There is a context for everything, though. This is a reaction to historical pressures. It is a symptom of an illness and the cure is simple hard work and honest research. The principle of using primary sources is fundamental to the rigor of academia. It may be the thing that saves the Humanities for higher education. There are prerequisites for achieving credibility. If you want to speak with authority on a subject, then you need to have a firm grasp on the primary sources available. Without that substrate of knowledge, there is no way to validate your thoughts. 

It is the same with marketing. Honest marketing will show the truth of the process. The confident chef prepares their food in front of a camera or the restaurant. If the ingredients are high quality, you will want to show them. If you are providing value, you will want to give people every reason to believe. Tracing the ingredients of a meal back to the farms where they were produced is the same as using primary sources to understand a subject.

Building a reputation based on integrity helps to create confidence in what you have to say. By demonstrating your character over time, people come to understand what kind of a person you are. Your lifestyle will say more about you than anything you attempt to communicate. The way you appear is who you are to other people. When what you say matches up with what people think of you there is a harmonic effect. That resonance creates confidence. We are speaking in complimentary tones.

This is one of the reasons that transparency works so well in social media. It is providing the public with primary sources. This is the whole concept behind no filter. We know that subjectivity is part of the process of being human, but it becomes a form of delusion or dishonesty when people misrepresent themselves to fit some imagined ideal. When people catfish on the internet, when they facetune or photoshop their photos to look a certain way, it comes with a certain amount of mischaracterization. It is such a biased presentation of the truth that it can’t be anything other than lying.

It’s obvious that there is a big demand for attractive lies, but also equally clear that the consequences of building a culture based on misrepresentations can lead to large scale disassociations. It can create a culture of conspiracy theories. When we decide to be disciplined enough to actually read or watch the primary sources, then we can live more confidently with a methodology that gives us a greater sense of truthfulness. 

You are only as good as your understanding. Intentions are extremely important, but understanding is necessary to guide your actions to effectively fit your intentions. If you want to help someone who is struggling, but you offer them unwanted advice at the wrong time you can easily do harm where you wanted to help. Seeking out the primary sources is like listening to a person to understand them before forming an opinion about what is wrong with them or what they should do. 

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