Tuesday, May 11, 2021

trip to NH 2020

 It was a bit odd traveling to Randolph in 2020.  All the usual events were canceled.  The town was incredibly quiet - kind of eerie.  Here are some insta posts.  You'll notice that I complained about how my cell phone camera would not capture foliage colors.  I bought a new phone since, so, if I get up there for foliage season  this year, I'll get better pix.

A spiritual response to fake news

I am trying to formulate discussion questions for my Friends Meeting (Quaker) on the topic of truth in today's environment.  Here is my current formulation.  I may add things later

  • What does the 9th commandment mean to us? (not to bear false witness against our neighbor)
  • Mens rea (state of mind) – In the law in the USA, there are generally 4 levels of mens rea: intentional, knowing, reckless, and negligent.  We don’t lie intentionally, but what about these other levels of mens rea? 
  • How do we evaluate sources of information? What is our trust network?  What is the trust network of the person we are talking to?   How does one choose a trust network?  Memes/Conspiracy Theories/Urban Legends
  • Looking at ethics statements from News Media.  Do they indicate their standards for evaluating sources?  Do they indicate policy on getting more than one source?  How might we be news media ourselves as we repeat things we hear online?
  • What is the emotional content of information? What is our tone? How are emotions being manipulated? How does tone add to or detract from truth? 
  • When is misinformation important?  When is correction of an error merely legalistic or pedantic? When is misinformation hurtful? Defamation? Bullying? 
  • What is the motivation?  Profit? Hatred? Love? How are we serving someone else's purpose by reacting to or conveying information?  Who is profiting by our being upset?  News media as purveyors of drama, for instance.
  • What can we communicate to other faith groups?  How would they respond to a request to develop and disseminate standards?
  • What might we do to influence the public on this issue, e.g. a website, brochure, or other resource for communicating our beliefs about truth?
  • How do we address “alternate facts?”

Some links of interest


On July 5, 2021, I facilitated an interest group with New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends on the topic of "Seeking Truth: A Spiritual Response to Fake News."  Another topic came up that I wanted to add to this blog:

  • Looking at the bias of a news source: conservative? liberal? business interests?