Living with misinformation and disinformation

Living with misinformation and disinformation

Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge. – Proverbs 23:12

Proverbs 23:9, 12


 9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
 12 Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge.

The profusion of wrong information is endemic. The first quarter of the 21st century saw a widespread proliferation of misinformation and disinformation. In 2018, misinformation was so common that it was chosen as the “Word of the Year” by Dictionary.com. Both misinformation and disinformation spread wrong or false information. They are often used interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing. What differentiates them? Misinformation is simply false or incorrect information. In contrast, disinformation is the use of incorrect or false facts when the intent is to mislead.

Misinformation occurs in our everyday lives. We make mistakes in hearing, remembering, and retelling the information. Without fact-checking and due diligence, we can easily spread false information but have no idea that it is false. Wrong or false information, in the form of misinformation, is simply passed on. It grows exponentially.

Disinformation occurs when false or erroneous information is deliberately spread with harmful intent. Disinformation is a common tool of espionage. Disinformation is employed for deception and manipulation. Disinformation includes scams, fake news, conspiracy theories, propaganda, deepfakes, hoaxes, frauds, etc.

Why are misinformation and disinformation so prevalent? Good information is readily available. But it is rarely recognized and embraced. Truth and accuracy are trumped by a much stronger force: group identity. Current societal conditions cause people to feel a greater need for “ingrouping.” The sense is that our group makes a strong. We derogate the outgroup. “Belonging is Stronger than Facts” (Max Fisher).

Social psychology attributes this trend to the formation of social ingroups and outgroups, “we” versus “them.” An ingroup is a social group with which we identify. By contrast, we do not identify with an outgroup. People are tribal and tend to agree with and favor the group to which they belong and identify with.

“As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup” (Max Fisher).

Wrong information, beliefs, advice, and choices lead to dire consequences. If we are handling wrong information and disseminating it disastrous results may follow. Truth and wisdom are to be highly valued, sought, and acquired. But right knowledge is not enough. We must choose to follow it.

James 3:13-17

 13 honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.

 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, natural, and demonic.

 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

To be able to wisely live amidst a culture full of antipathy, suspicion, misinformation, and disinformation, requires children of the King to make a diligent effort and make use of critical thinking. We are to give ourselves over to instruction, discipline, and knowledge.

So many children of the King tentatively approached the Father. We are to jump in with both feet and plumb the depths of wisdom that we might know how we should then live.

We are to apply our minds to instruction. In Hebrew, this literally reads “bring your heart,” where “heart” is the center of thought and commitment (UBS). This expression can be rendered “submit your mind.” We are to “Listen to . . .” (CEV) and “Pay attention to . . .” (TEV). We are instructed to “pay attention and listen” (BKC). “CEV renders the whole line as ‘and do your best to learn.’”

REFLECT & PRAY

There are two kinds of wisdom: God’s wisdom from above and foolish wisdom of the earth. The wisdom of a fool leads to a dead end, but God’s wisdom leads to life-changing perspectives and opportunities to serve Him.

Father encourage my heart and mind to seek wisdom, be open and responsive to it. Help me to discern foolishness and reject it.

INSIGHT

“Only when the heart is applied to instruction, and the ear bent upon hearing right and profitable words, will there be progress in divine things. Careless learning by rote will never profit. It is when the whole being is occupied with the truth, that Wisdom makes her abode in the soul of him who seeks her” (Ironside).

Proverbs 23:9, 12

 9 Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.

 12 Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge.

“There is no easy way to gain instruction. It requires discipline and application” (BBC). Proverbs 23:9 could be rendered, “Don’t try to teach a dull, stupid fool. You are wasting your time on him,” or “Do not waste words on a fool,” or “Don’t try to talk sense to a fool” (UBS). Fools despise words of wisdom. To get this right, we may have to separate ourselves from fools and avoid conversations with them. They bring little or nothing of value to the table and frequently will not listen to reason. We “should not waste sound teaching on the stubbornly unresponsive” (Garrett).

Matthew 7:6 Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Wisdom is not about simply trying to follow the rules, but rather depending upon the Father’s guidance to direct us in every situation.

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

6 thoughts on “Living with misinformation and disinformation

  1. Does the Bible explain how to filter information from misinformation?

    What a great question! The Bible presents True Truth. Everything that it touches upon is accurate and truthful.

    The Bible does not present exhaustive truth. It does not touch upon every possible idea, subject, or area of knowledge.

    There are many modern “discoveries” in areas of science that are not considered. Examples would include but not be limited to nuclear energy, nanotechnology, microbiology, electricity, subatomic particles, pathogens, or toxins.

    But the Scriptures lay down principles and absolutes by which we can make accurate assessments. It presents absolute standards of right and wrong. The standards are not arbitrary but established by the eternal Lawgiver, the Father God. Thus we have an objective standard to guide us in our analysis.

    There is also a subjective element. The Father has given us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit enables us to do what we cannot do in and of ourselves. Paul alludes to this.

    1 Corinthians 2:10 God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.
    1 Corinthians 2:15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things . . ..

    Some things can never be understood in this life, this mode of existence. However, we do not know where the Father has drawn the line.

    1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

    Job 11:7 Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty?

    Romans 11:33-34
    33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
    34 For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?

    We have some comprehension limited though it may be of God’s mind and thoughts. We have some glimpses of the big picture, though perhaps through a glass darkly.

    In the end, we can seek to learn and understand. But there are limits.
    Over time, with practice, senses trained our ability to discern and understand grows. The Father has given us the tools we need to understand and distinguish between truth and error. There is an entering interesting verse that speaks to this.

    Hebrews 5:14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

    Someone new to the faith will not understand or even be able to understand what someone has come to understand who has walked with Him for decades.

    The bottom line is God and we are not.

    Knowing the truth and being able to discern is the challenge laid out for all children of the King. Our textbook, the word of God, cannot be measured. It is analogous to knowing the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

    So I encourage you to strive together with the apostle Paul to reach a goal that is impossible in this life and mode of existence.

    Philippians 3:12-14

    12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
    13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
    14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

    DrH

    Like

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