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The Dangers of Becoming a “Fox News Intellectual Zombie” — Liberals, Pay Attention!

foxnews1Does anyone remember when the GOP had good arguments for their positions? People like William F. Buckley and others? Yeah, they may or may not have been right but at least they could have explained their position without resorting to the dog-whistle nudges to the ever dwindling base that was born back when drinking fountains and lunch counters were segregated.

They used numbers, figures and spreadsheets that weren’t slathered with a copious dose of BS and subtle racism to make their point. You could disagree with them very vehemently, and vice versa, then go have scotch and a cigar together afterwards. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan’s relationship is probably the most famous example of this, as recalled in this article from Chris Matthews.

Politics is a nasty, brutal sport in which the spectators become the players. Like hockey, there are fist fights, yelling and a lot of bad blood between opposing teams. However, in hockey, the animosity tends to end when the game is over. The same can’t be said for politics unfortunately, and this applies to both sides.

On the left, we sometimes tend to be just as guilty as those who believe that the President is a Marxist Kenyan Fascist Muslim sent to destroy the America they think they know. We may have a stronger argument and the moral high ground on a lot of issues, but some of us tend to fall into that “four legs good, two legs bad” group mentality as well. We don’t do it as much as the people who become outraged at a member of our military holding an umbrella for the President, but it still happens.

It’s fun and cathartic to bash Republicans, especially the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, or the countless parrots employed by NewsCorp. I’m just as culpable in this as anyone else because when you see absolutely ridiculous and asinine commentary being touted as “facts,” you can’t help but laugh hysterically and/or facepalm repeatedly. I know I do every time I’m stuck in some doctor’s office with Fox News playing on the waiting room TV and I have to listen to people complain about “entitlements,” right before they whip out their Medicaid card.

Whether they’re liberal, conservative or other, the fact of the matter is people like to be constantly reassured that they’re right and the other side is always wrong. It’s known as “bias confirmation” — we’re all guilty of it to some degree, and it sells very, very well. The danger of it is that when you become so attached to this way of thinking, you become an intellectual zombie, just like the millions of folks who get all of their talking points from Fox News.

It’s the same with social media. Far too often, I see both liberals and conservatives from all ends of the spectrum reacting to headlines instead of actually reading stories or doing a few minutes of research. By reacting to just a headline, your perspective of that headline gets ingrained into your thought process and becomes instant truth at that moment and for the future, making it much harder to learn or accept the full truth behind the story if and when you’re exposed to it. Folks, it doesn’t take much effort to prevent that from happening — read and research before responding with reaction. It’s as simple as that. Let’s stop falling into the very mentality we accuse others of having been trapped into.

In closing, I will leave you with this quote from Buddha. We should all take his words to heart and practice it every time we deal with information, regardless of who presents it to us.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
― Gautama Buddha

About Manny Schewitz

Manny Schewitz is a progressive from the Dirty South with an inclination to say it like it is. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and also maintains an active and lively presence on Facebook.
You can find him on Twitter as well, @MannySchewitz. Be sure to check out Manny's archives on Forward Progressives for more of his viewpoints.

  • Norma Vessels

    Very good advice .. which I hope to keep now, and in the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terrie.watkins Terrie Watkins

    I was reminded of this after reading the headline “Romney bashes Obama”. Read the text, and Romney admits he is not an Obama fan (Shocker) but that he believes the President loves this country and wants the best for it. Certainly a more balanced view than the heasline portrayed!

  • Pingback: Forward Progressives — News Media Has Become More about Selling a Headline than Actually Researching and Informing()

  • jake3_14

    Liberals would do well to understand the moral basis under which conservatives operate. “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathon Haight should be required reading for all liberals.

    • Christopher Belanger

      really stop using the word liberal like an insult, I know the moral foundation of conservatives, it is based in fear and the inability to think outside the preformed box…. no book is going to justify your small mind, your racism, your idolatry of money, and your lack of empathy or compassion……. I do understand your moral foundation and it disgusts me ..,.. the only medical study of conservatives and liberals showed on average conservatives have smaller frontal lobes and larger brain stem which houses fight or flight.. so conservatives seem to lack the ability to process threats and react neutrally. and have a larger tendency to resist change for imagined fears….. so jake back down your superiority complex

      • jake3_14

        It’s interesting how you assumed that because I suggested that liberals do some intellectual exploration, you assumed you knew my political leanings and spewed vitriol. It’s almost as if you have an extremely sensitive fight-or-flight response.

      • Christopher Belanger

        its because you assumed I had not read it, and that if I did I would understand conservatives think they are morally superior. nice try with the flight or fight but since I walk into danger everyday, and treat injured people, you should probably let it go. very defensive response (fight or flight) when you have put the research into it as I have then you will realize how completely dumb you SOUND, not are… liberals by nature read and ask questions conservatives don’t read, they watch fox (THEIR own admission … and figures you say spewed hate …. no I made valid political points and you took it way to personally, but everything I said was true… something you did not quite attain … jake nothing I said was anything but general proven criticism you in typical conservative fashion change it personal as you cannot compete on an intellectual level as your facts are wrong… GOD will not reward the rich like they seem to think, so take the propaganda book and go away

      • jake3_14

        I didn’t assume that you specifically hadn’t read it, nor did I use “liberal” as an epithet. Nor have I launched into personal attacks as you have. And if you’ve looked at my profile, you’ve overlooked my most recent comment about using Big Data as a hiring tool: Another poster presented a set of consideration against using Big Data, and I said “Thank you for your thoughtful critique. It caused me to reconsider my position.”, meaning I reversed my opinion.
        Lastly, you’re making an assumption that I believe in God and think that the rich should always be rewarded based only on your own point of view rather than asking me questions about my positions.

      • Christopher Belanger

        you assume liberals do not read… but since most of academia is liberal you can rest assured they have read…. and you still do not get it do you? FOX lies to you so you will vote the fox way against yourself….

      • Christopher Belanger

        I just read your profile, I see this is more of your general philosophy that people suck and corporations are good …. and you do know when employees say no they get fired don’t you? or r you the one who fires….?