Posts Tagged ‘confirmation bias’

The Need To Analyze Information

October 28, 2014

Do we know how to analyze information? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The internet has increased the amount of information many of us have access to. Unfortunately, it has also increased the amount of misinformation many of us have access to. If we do not know how to properly analyze the information and compare it, then we will be prone to error easily and most often, just accepting information because it agrees with the point we have prior.

For instance, yesterday, I found myself arguing with an atheist who was just cutting and pasting everything from a web site. (And in fact a web site I think has hideously false information) Of course, there are times cut and paste is appropriate to show what some authority says, but that should also be done with proper citation and one should seek to have the best authorities.

When this was pointed out, the gears immediately switched to a different topic that was still being used to attack Christianity and yes, another cut and paste job. It has led me to the conclusion that there are too many atheists on the internet that simply look at a claim and decide whether it’s true or false depending on how it treats Christianity. If it puts Christianity in a negative light, it must be true. If it supports Christianity in any way, it must be false.

Before my atheist readers start complaining about a double-standard, I will address the complaint I see coming. Yes. Christians too often do the same thing.

I used to have it where my Dad would send out emails complaining about something Obama had done and with a statement of his. There was often a little problem with them. They were false. The events described did not happen. Now I’m no supporter of Obama, but I am a supporter of truth and if I want to take down an ideological opponent, I want to make sure that the claim is true. Too many times this kind of email was sent out to a large group of people so I’d hit the “reply all” button and start typing out what the true situation was.

On Facebook, this can easily happen with the “share” button. Consider how recently there was a story going around about a pagan eyewitness testimony being found to Jesus doing a miracle. Problem? The story was a complete fabrication, and yet Christians shared it like wildfire. When Christians do this, it gives the impression that Christians are gullible people who will believe anything as long as it supports their view.

Too often, that can be true.

When these claims are being passed around on the internet, it’s important to try to look and see if any valid sources are really backing this claim. If you want to know if a certain event happened, check local news to see if there is a record. My wife recently sent me a story about someone smashing a statue of the Ten Commandments saying the devil told him to do it. Sounds a bit crazy, but I checked. I saw local news stations sharing the story. That told me story was true. I said it was okay to share at that point.

What both sides need to learn is how to process information better and analyze it. There are arguments Christians use that I don’t think work. To give one example, I don’t think the ontological argument works. I know it has its supporters and many of them are very intelligent people. Still, it just doesn’t work in my eyes.

Meanwhile, there are many atheists that if you show them something that could indicate that there is some truth to something that was said in the Gospels, their heads will start turning and you would expect that they were in the Exorcist. This can be found on many popular internet atheist blogs. If anything gave any credibility to Christianity, it must be thrown out.

A great solution to this is what many people want to avoid. Read books. Many scholars will not put their work out there for free on the internet. If you read their books, you can have access to that information, and it could be a better usage of your time than watching that TV show that you want to watch. Read also the ones you disagree with. Let them show you the blind spots that could exist in your worldview. It’s why I often ask people “When was the last time you read a scholarly work that disagreed with you?”

The age of the internet can be a blessing if you know how to use it, but for too many on both sides, they will just uncritically accept whatever goes with their confirmation bias. Don’t be one of those. Research the claims. Especially if you’re a follower of Christ and claim to be a person of truth. Make sure your words are true.

In Christ,

Nick Peters