Why You Need to Read Between the Lines
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Politics and Activism

Why You Need to Read Between the Lines

Learn to recognize bias even if it's not necessarily obvious.

Why You Need to Read Between the Lines

When I started studying biology, I began to look at research more in depth. How many times have you seen the headlines of an article like, "Scientists find a link to breast cancer through Oreos"? Especially during this election year, I have seen the WORST things on Facebook in the history of mankind. Memes and quotes which are just plain wrong, and totally misconstrued. There have been a couple times where I've seen The Onion or Clickhole articles shared and the person thought they were a factual, real article.

People are being suckered and misinformed, simply because they don't know how to think about these issues, both in the political and scientific spheres. Research papers tend to be dry, and not so fun to read. So I get it, if you don't have to read it, you probably won't. BUT I BEG YOU... before you share something or bring it up in conversation, do your research! Seriously, we will google "stomachache" on WebMD and diagnose ourselves with some form of terminal illness when some people can't even look up basic facts about vital issues. For example, GMO's. If you don't know what that means, look it up. I'll help you out this once - genetically modified organisms. A very long story cut very short, GMO's are a fairly controversial news item because many believe they could cause detrimental effects to our health and they should be labeled on food packaging. GMO's can take the form of almost any crop now, whether it's genetically modified wheat or tomatoes. They have been banned by the European Union, and people in the U.S. are beginning to push for the same thing.

First question - did you know what they were? If you didn't, that's fine. Head over to scholar.google.com and type it in. Then, you can read about them in actual research papers.

Second thing to look at: Who did the research? If a team at Anti-GMO League found them to be unsafe, don't you think they may have just a teeny little bias in their findings? Who funded the research? These two things alone can impact research more than you know. Seriously, looking at the source, authorship and funding are huge ways to learn more about the impact on the research.

Third, extrapolate. What if we didn't plant these organisms? They would be drought and pest resistant. With the population set to explode, we are going to need a fast, efficient way to grow crops in a variety of places.

Learn to recognize bias even if it's not necessarily obvious. Reread the third point and see if you can determine which way I lean on the issue. Sometimes you have to read between the lines in order to understand the bias of the research.

Look at more than one research item. A body of research will typically give a better understanding of an issue since the conditions and effects can and have been repeated. Look into experimental conditions. Does it make sense the way it was performed? Learn more about the accreditation of the authors. I'm reading a book right now about chemicals in everyday products, and neither of the authors has their Ph.D.'s. Instead, they are environmentalists at an environmental firm. Which isn't a bad thing - it just would indicate a bias against chemicals and the respective industries.

The GMO example is just one of many. This approach can be applied to political issues as well. Being skeptically and approaching issues with questions is never a bad idea. If anything, you will learn more about the issue itself and reinforce your opinion. It's always beneficial to look objectively at the facts. Hopefully, this will lead to a steady decline in misinformed meme sharing and take The Onion articles as a factual news source.... But we don't live in a perfect world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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