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How to recognize logical fallacies and editorializing in the media you consume

Source | LinkedIn : By Olivia Barrow

Get out of your bubble.

Read news articles from the opposing viewpoint.

Stop ‘unfriending’ people who disagree with you.

The civic duty to-do list for the average American is long following the election. Many people are calling for Facebook to take a more active stand in preventing people from insulating themselves in their own political bubbles. Others are calling on voters to cultivate political empathy.

This is all good advice, but advice that will be difficult to put into action without a primer on logical fallacies. In just the past 15 days I have read at least 400 news articles, blogs, and opinion pieces as I prepared for and tried to recover from the election.

A common theme has stood out: when emotions run high, so do logical fallacies.

A logical fallacy is an error in reasoning that undermines your argument, and typically alienates any in your audience who disagree with you. It’s a way of reinforcing your bias, and ensuring that your message will be received only by the choir of like-minded individuals. It’s a smug nod to the people who agree with you: Look at how clever and piercing my prose is, don’t look at how I have failed to substantiate any of my claims.

The readers of the news must hold the writers accountable. Bias is inevitable in journalism. Anyone claiming to be unbiased lacks self awareness. However, people with a bias can still respect the rules of logic in presenting an argument, and uphold the principles of solid journalism. If you like and share blogs and news articles that use the following logical fallacies — or if you use them yourself — to rip on the other side, you will not contribute to helping to bridge the political divide in this country.

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