Scanning Headlines is Common, But Has Its Dangers

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We’re all busy, and sometimes we scan through headlines just to get a sense of what the news of the day is. But this can lead us to start believing things that aren’t true.

Take this headline, for example. What do you think it means?


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If you’re anything like me, you might first be skeptical because the article is from RealClear Politics, which not only is a conservative outlet but also often misleading. But still, the headline leads me to believe that 28 million ballots were filled out by voters and sent to their election boards but somehow never got to their destination. The mind doesn’t have to wander too much to start thinking about what happened to these ballots.

Now, I had a my skeptical hat on, because a friend of mine sent this article to me saying that it was something that she was seeing circulating in right-wing circles. So, I read the article. Those 28 million ballots? They were mailed to voters but not returned. This is incredibly common. Just like we have 200 million registered voters but only 127 million voted.

But here’s the problem. If we only see the headline, many of us might walk away from our 5 minute scan of the morning headlines and a seed is planted that 28 million ballots never made it to their respective elections board and that something clearly went very wrong there. This seed sprouts and influences the next thing you read about absentee ballots.

Now, by no means am I saying that you need to stop and read every article that comes across your feed. That would be impossible. I am saying that it’s good to keep a critical eye, check your sources, and start to distrust media outlets that routinely post headlines that turn out to be quite misleading.

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2 replies

  1. One of my more contentious readers sent me this article also, and I in turn sent him a link to this post. Thanks for the illumination, for I fear this is happening far too often, that people are seeing the headline and jumping to the wrong conclusion. Sigh.

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