Your Mind and Media Manipulation—How to Protect Yourself
One of our goals at Come and Reason Ministries is to help you develop your own God-given ability to think, reason, and discern—to learn how to differentiate the true from the false. We want to help every human being to become mature individuals who, by constant use of their thinking and reasoning abilities to weigh through issues, “have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14 NIV84).
Every day, we are presented with opportunities to practice thinking, reasoning, and discerning.
This week (June 7, 2021), I received an email from the American Psychiatric Association News with the following headline dated June 4, 2021:
“Medical Students Often Perceive Lack of Respect for Diversity Among Faculty”
What are your thoughts about this headline? What message is it sending? What is the core idea it triggers in you? Does it suggest that there is a genuine problem with biased and insensitive faculty at medical schools? Or at least that most medical students perceive a lack of respect from their faculty?
Does the headline suggest that society must be terribly prejudiced if even trusted medical school faculty struggle to show respect to diverse students under their tutelage? Does it make you feel bad, sad, or threatened? Does it confirm a sense of victimhood—how the system just doesn’t get you or your friends and isn’t fair?
A Headline vs. the Reality
I decided to check out the article and dig into the actual evidence and basis for the headline. I was saddened but, given the way the media is manipulating society, not at all surprised to discover that in a survey of more than 28,000 medical students, only 17.7 percent felt that their faculty were disrespectful to diverse individuals. Yet the headline states this is “often” the case, and the article starts out by saying “nearly 18% of graduating medical students” feel this way.
Notice the way the facts (data) were presented. They were presented in such a way as to heighten the sense of disrespect—that is, to magnify the alleged problem. The article could have said, “82.3% of students did not experience feelings that their faculty lacked respect for diverse groups”—or “82.3%, the vast majority of students, experienced their faculty demonstrating positive role modeling by demonstrating respect and support for diverse people and groups.”
What do you think when the findings mean that 82.3% of the students don’t experience faculty being disrespectful to diverse individuals yet the data is presented as this is “often” the case?
Lest you think that the medical students are not themselves diverse, here are the stats on who makes up the recent medical students:
- 50.5% Female
- 54.6% White
- 21.6% Asian
- 8.0% Multi-racial
- 6.2% African-American
- 9.6% all others (American Indian, Islander, Unknown, non-US citizen)
Closely examining this article exposes the powerful mind manipulation happening in society today: data twisted and presented to magnify or promote problems that the vast majority of people do not experience.
There are facts—and there are interpretations of facts. Interpretations are not facts—they are merely the views, opinions, beliefs, and perspectives of whomever is advancing the viewpoint. The interpretations in this article provide eye-opening insight into the biases, prejudices and agenda of the one writing.
Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 NKJV). People reveal their own views and ideas by what they say and do. That’s why we need to have the discernment to differentiate what is being said in the news reports versus what’s actually happening. Is the media outlet giving us facts—or is it giving us an opinion, a biased perspective, or outright propaganda? (If you would like to read more about propaganda, read our blog on the power of lies).
Does the fact that 17.7% of students perceive a lack of respect from faculty toward diverse groups mean that there is an actual lack of respect, or could it also mean that 17.7% of the students have a perception problem, that they have their own biases, prejudices, and distortions—that they may be interpreting innocuous events, actions, and comments in ways that they assign disrespect even though none actually exist? Or could it be a combination of both? The article doesn’t ask these questions nor pursue the answers—but why? Instead, it appears that the authors are determined to lean in the direction of assuming that the problem is with the faculty, who need to improve their role modeling:
“Further studies are needed to assess the mediators of students’ perceptions of faculty respect for diversity and how these perceptions may more directly impact student well-being as well as to identify optimal interventions to improve role modeling of respect for diversity among faculty.”
According to the article, the optimal interventions need to be directed at the faculty. However, while I support each of us constantly doing our own introspection, seeking to identify where we need to grow to be more like Jesus in character—to love, respect, and seek the welfare of all people regardless of their differences from us—could it be that the optimal interventions in this case need to be directed at the media, the messaging, the educational systems, and the students, to present facts without spin, to teach critical reasoning skills, to allow for mature and open dialogue of various possible meanings?
Our goal at Come and Reason Ministries is not to tell you what to think, but to help you develop your own God-given reasoning ability so you can discern issues for yourself. Strength comes by exertion. So if you want stronger critical-reasoning ability, stop believing everything you hear in the news and start examining the evidences for yourself, comparing them with God’s Word, the design laws of our Creator, and how reality actually works to come to your own conclusions.