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The Doctrine of a Skeptic: Climate Change and the Media

Ruth Kramer

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By Manav Midha ’19, Contributor

Disclaimer: The author uses an extreme perspective to highlight need for social change, and this article should not be used as an indication of the author’s personal political beliefs.

The overwhelming majority of people my age vehemently believe in human-caused climate change (global warming), which most likely does exist and is a threat. What is also a threat is the blind belief my generation has put in the government. Perhaps because they have not lived long enough to have witnessed governments thriving on propaganda (Soviet Russia, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Nazi Germany, etc.)–not that I have— or because they are too idealistic and closed-minded to learn human history. The truth of the world, the one fact I can trust, is that humans thrive on self-interest. Every human action—including charity—is for the betterment of the executor’s condition, including moral self-esteem. All governments are innately human institutions, and thus they act on their own self-interest. Knowing this, how can we trust the facts that they pander along with the media?

The scientists conducting climate change experiments in Arctic waters and Antarctic ice carbon deposits should believe in their results, which again, are most likely true. But us? I don’t know about others, but I am a lowly citizen. I don’t do climate change experiments. How can we trust information that has passed through countless levels of self-serving bureaucracy? Maybe climate change was invented as a public affairs stunt by billionaires, the greedy media, and career politicians! Just like the Obama birther episode and the “facts” that blondes are dumb and Canadians are afraid of the dark!

Why should I believe the “facts” propagated by the media when global warming does not visibly affect my or anyone I know’s life? What I do know as a true, non-alternative fact, is that excessive environmental regulation has not proven its benefits; it hurts the livelihoods of hard-working Americans in Appalachia and the West who used to have good jobs in the coal industry. I do know that hand-picked data on things such as microbeads hurt companies that provide for the well-being of their hundreds of thousands of employees. This data can easily be fabricated, and no one bats an eye because counter-studies are expensive when not subsidized with taxpayer funds.

As one of America’s most popular presidents, Ronald Reagan, once said, we must “trust, but verify.” Whatever the person’s political beliefs are about the late president, everyone should be able to see the point in this statement. I don’t believe our government is out to hurt us, I simply don’t want to see innocent people get hurt because we, as citizens, didn’t verify some data.

I am not arguing over liberal and conservative philosophies. I am instead bringing up a question that needs to be asked for the fate of our republic: can we blindly trust all information endorsed by the government and media?

The media has so much grip over our lives. We sometimes don’t notice it. Every single piece of information we get either comes from a media source, or from someone who has gotten that news from someone who has referenced a media source. The media literally controls our minds! Not long ago, the whole world believed the earth was flat and the sun revolved around us− because that is what their governments and rudimentary media sources (town criers) told them! How can we trust that we are not being lied to. Science is constantly changing, and we should not be able to use current media reports as justification for robbing innocent people of their jobs and livelihoods.

Some may point out that I have not referenced any scientific journals or articles in my argument. Really, doing so would contradict the crux of my article. We cannot trust most things without verifying them ourselves. That may seem extreme in some industries− namely, medicine. In those cases, we have no choice but to accept the peer-reviewed consensus because not accepting the data would be worse than taking the time to self-verify (not only would it take time, but most people do not have the resources to do so). Overall though, we must be skeptical of all information, or at least do our own due diligence.

It is more important now, in these times of the PATRIOT act, NSA cyber-intelligence programs, and government suppression of anyone who reveals these breaches of human rights (Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, etc.), that we resist and not give in to all information promoted and reported by the government and media.

In this nation there is a war on anyone who questions government bureaucracy and the media. We are seen as paranoid skeptics that should be wearing tin-foil hats and be hiding in an underground bunker. I am not asking anyone to change their mind about what they believe in, I am instead humbly asking my peers to question the world around them more. It is a sad fact, but governments have and do use propaganda as a means of oppression. Government propaganda may be so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize it is propaganda! Global warming is probably true, but can we really know if anything/everything else the media has told us actually is? Without verifying, no, we cannot. Scary, right?

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The Doctrine of a Skeptic: Climate Change and the Media