CRITICAL THINKING: “Fake News Isn’t the Problem: The Problem is so Many People Believe it.” / Dr. Benjamin L. Corey ☮

adobestock_6612637-1024x685The issue of “fake news” is one that’s currently being discussed around the internet, and it’s being framed as a big problem in the digital age.

Some have suggested that fake news is an ugly target that needs to be eradicated and blocked from the internet. Both Google and Facebook have taken steps to make fake news less prevalent, and a host of major news outlets from NPR to CNN and Forbes are all discussing this “problem.”

In many ways, it is a problem. For example, the owner of a pizza joint in Washington D.C received death threats and negative online reviews after a fake news story reported that Hillary Clinton was running a satanic child-sex-trafficking ring out of the back of the restaurant.  In other ways, fake news can be highly entertaining– satire often is. It has a way of exposing our fears, our assumptions, and bringing a degree of humor into what can often be a depressing news cycle.

But honestly, in a culture that places such high value on the freedom of speech, I’m surprised at the way the entire discussion is being framed. I’m surprised that so many seem to think that the fake news itself is the problem that needs to be addressed.

It’s not.

You see, the problem isn’t fake news at all– the problem is a lack of critical thinking on the part of so many Americans.

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PSYCHOLOGY – COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY: “Narcissism Doesn’t Develop Naturally; it is a Learned Condition” / Alison Gopnik ☮

Narcissists aren’t born – they’re made, says development psychologist Alison Gopnik. She takes issue with the popular notion that children need to unlearn brashness and learn civility, when neuroscience shows that it tends to work in the reverse.

POLITICAL PSYCHOLOGY: “What Would Joseph Campbell Say About Donald Trump?” / Moyers & Company / Joan Konner ☮

Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell

Like so many others, I’ve been puzzling over the Trump phenomenon for months. It seems like every journalist, pundit, psychiatrist, psychologist and armchair psychologist has something to say about the man. Understandably, they are trying to figure out what kind of person he is and why he is so popular with millions of Americans, including nearly half of the Republican Party.

My own interest is undergirded by the work and ideas of the late Joseph Campbell, a foremost interpreter of world mythologies and author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It was said of Campbell that “he could make the bones of folklore and anthropology live,” as millions of viewers would learn in watching the classic PBS series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. [Disclosure: I knew Campbell from my alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for 35-plus years. Many years later I served as executive producer of the Campbell-Moyers series.]

Campbell’s gift was to interpret the themes and forces underlying myths, stories and legends and how they play out in our lives. He illuminated the interior pathways of the mind which guide human behavior and action — a psychological roadmap within each of us which is nonetheless dark and mysterious to most of us.

One of the dominant highways on that inner map is the Hero’s Journey. The hero appears as a universal character in all cultures, everywhere, throughout human history, in myths and legends. It is so universal a theme that Campbell, along with other scholars and psychologists, called it an “archetype.”

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