How to detect propaganda

A fellow activist wrote in response to a local elected official’s post:

How to detect propaganda: Look to see if an article fairly covers ALL the arguments on BOTH sides of an issue. If it doesn’t then carefully consider the question, what information am I not being given?

I responded:

How to detect propaganda: Read many things from many sources on an ongoing basis. And engage in constructive discussion with many people from a variety of backgrounds. And develop your own stance on things — while always being flexible to accommodate new information; changing environment.

It’s OK for an article to just be one person’s viewpoint. (Otherwise we’d never have editorial sections of newspapers etc.) We each, as individuals and citizens, have a responsibility to make sure we take in multiple viewpoints, various sources.

(And use the various perspectives to develop, hone, and evolve our own stances on things.)

I never expect anyone to “cover all sides”; it’s not realistic. Never has been. And not even desirable in my opinion for one person or one org to attempt to cover “all sides” — whatever that even means.

Works better for all if we take responsibility for our own “information diet,” and (very important) also strive to equip everyone else, starting from early childhood and maybe even infancy, with the tools to do the same for themselves.

Critical thinking: It’s a priceless skill.