Posted in coaching

misinfo & disinfo

What’s the difference? Misinformation is false information that is not shared with malicious intent. Disinformation is false information that is deliberately shared to cause harm. 

Mis and Dis have been a problem since the serpent started talking. But now it seems like everyone is throwing them around. Why? Mis and Dis can spread with greater speed and on a wider scale through one click. 

A survey in March 2019 reported that 49% of US adults have forwarded or retweeted misinformation (which they later found was made up). Only 10% admitted to sharing disinformation online (which they knew was false). Why are we doing this?

Experts tell us that the more “likes” a post has, the more likely we are to believe it and “like” and “share” it with others. That’s when “filter bubbles” kick in to personally deliver more information to us to reinforce these “likes”—whether or not they are true. To make matters worse, Facebook’s own internal research concludes that its algorithms “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness” (J. Horwitz and D. Seetharaman, WSJ, May 26, 2020).  

“Oh bother.” (To use Pooh’s signature catchphrase, usually spoken after getting himself into sticky situations). 

Paul warns us not to accumulate views that suit our passions. Filter buttons eventually turn us “away from listening to the truth” and we end up wandering “off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). But “as for you, always be sober-minded” (4:5). In other words, always resist confirmation bias. 

I think “you’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think” (Pooh again) because the Spirit of truth dwells in you and guides you “into all the truth” (John 16:13). With his help, you will “not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV). 

Looking “beneath the surface so you can judge correctly” (John 7:24, NLT) will take more time and thought and tenacity, patience, and self-restraint than a “like” or “share.” But it’s better than getting get your head stuck in a honey pot. 

Posted in coaching

politics of fear

It’s hard to deny the politics of fear on both sides of the political aisle. Republicans and Democrats regularly paint ominous pictures of what will happen if the other side wins the White House in November. This isn’t anything new. Pharaoh weaponized fear to maintain his power (Exodus 1:10). Notice the three-step pattern of the politics of fear:

1. Present a threat that arouses fear. Pharaoh says to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us” (Exodus 1:9). Suddenly, the Israelites are a threat to Egypt’s wellbeing. An “us vs. them” has been created. They aren’t like “us”—and therefore, can’t be trusted.  

2. Show how vulnerable “we” are. “If war breaks out, they’ll join our enemies and fight against us” (Ex 1:10b). Classic strawman argument. “They” are trouble. By creating on a stereotype, “we” can vilify them.

3. Explain how “we” can protect ourselves from “them.” “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them” … so they “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens” (Ex 1:10a, 11). Having established an untrue premise that “they” are bad, and even harmful, the politics of fear can successfully dehumanize “them,” making it easier for “us” to justify hatred and violence. 

Note, too, how the politics of fear quickly spreads from one person (Pharaoh) to a small group (taskmasters) to an entire nation (“the Egyptians [literally] loathed the people of Israel”; Ex 1:12). Apparently, fear is not only the result of evil; evil is also the result of fear. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew the spiritual damage fear creates. “It crouches in people’s hearts,” he wrote, “it hollows out their insides … and secretly gnaws and eats away at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others.” 

For those of you who don’t want your insides hollowed out during this election season, take a lesson from the midwives: they feared God (Ex 1:17, 21). The fear of God is the only thing that liberates people from the politics of fear. 

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else”—Oswald Chambers