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Maynard Institute Fight Fake News Project

In response to:

Project Managers, Fight Fake News with the Trust Project!
We need a project manager at thetrustproject.org to help shepherd the many project components that we have built over the past year and a half with more than 70 news organizations and distribution platforms. This position requires someone with a creative mind, great organizational skills, journalism and technical experience and a passion for journalism and the role it plays in a diverse society.

To read more about the position and to apply visit this link:
https://jobs.scu.edu/postings/5260

Response:

I won’t be applying for the job you are offering, the position related to dealing with issues of distortions of truth and what has come to be known as “fake news.”  I am very much interested in the position, not because I am qualified to apply, but because I know it to be necessary that we who cherish democracy do something to put our democracy back on track, on its intended trajectory to a people’s state in which the people wisely decide futures thorough informed and thoughtful participation in the discourse that is at the heart of true democracy.  I am not a journalist but, rather, a now retired educator who tried over the course of a career to teach teachers how to help students develop the kinds of skills, knowledge, and dispositions that would allow them to effectively contribute to the conversation that is democracy.  I was not as successful as I needed to be in my advocacy for education serving democracy and, now, with people in positions of power twisting truth and, even, twisting the meaning of truth, I know that I cannot really quit trying to do what I set out to do when I became a teacher.

I won’t be applying for the position, but I would like to somehow be a part of the process you are beginning, to investigate means for reinstating truth as true and working to discover ways to make truthfulness a criterion for belief that figures into decision making and action by citizens of the United States of America.  I think I have something to offer the project as an educator because, truthfully speaking, people in a free state will always be free to lie and, in a capitalist state, lying will remain an accepted part of “doing business.”

That said, I do know that there are ways to educate people for the responsibilities that come with freedom and with the rights and obligations of citizenship in a society in which it is the people who are charged with making communal decisions.  The way to honesty, an essential component of the kind of humanity that allows for a humane society, is through education focused on what Amy Gutman (President of the University of Pennsylvania and author of books such as Democratic Education, Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 1987) describes as the democratic imperative, the ability of citizens to engage in effective decision making.

Deceptions will continue and, at this point in time, those who win by deceiving have deceived vast numbers of the American public into believing that lying is a necessary part of “making it” in this society, in the global society that is understood to be the new and immutable reality under which we live.  Where deception outright does not work, manufactured doubt does, confusion intentionally inserted into conversations where enough fact exists to win the argument by those who do not like the truth because it somehow undermines the righteousness of their behavior.  I think the book Manufacturing Doubt explains the doubt syndrome well.

The remedy, the only genuine one I can think of, is education that truly works to help people develop their ability to think for themselves and to think wisely, such abilities basic to effective participation in a democratic process that leads to wise and humane societal decisions by the people who are the ultimate decision makers in the democratic society.  Growing such abilities is, I know, possible.  The current educational system, however, in ever so many ways, works against growth of this kind, instead working to tell students what they should think and what it is that is important to know.  Students are hardly ever asked to think deeply about that with which they are presented and, when asked to show what they have learned, they are told what it is they should have learned when their achievement is assessed.

Education is the key to building a society that is resistant to deception, to helping individuals develop the kind of mindfulness that allows them to do the work necessary to get at what is true and real through the collection of information that becomes the knowledge base for their thought and the use of their critical abilities to get at what that they have come to understand to be true means, should mean, in regard to making decisions and determining the best ways to act.

Again, I write, not as an applicant for the most interesting and important position you are offering, but to ask for you to find a way to allow me to participate in this project.  I think my thinking may be of value in pushing for democratic process that is good sense enough to insure that the goal is always the good society, the more perfect one that the Declaration argues we are capable, by our nature, of creating.

 

 

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