(NOTE: AS I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO FORMAT THIS BLOG, EVERYTHING IN BLUE IS A HYPER-LINK. Click on it and it will magically transport you somewhere else…)

     I am constantly amazed by the amount of disinformation, misinformation and paranoid, screeching,  the-sky-is falling blarney that zips around the internet on a second-by-second basis.

     

     The internet has given all of us an incredible tool to seek out information; unfortunately, the sheer glut of comments, posts, links, rants, ravings and assorted quasi-intellectual pablum and nonsense makes it very difficult to sort shit out without some kind of filter. We are exposed to all kinds of “information.” But the ability to process all that information is sorely lacking for most of us.

   

      It boils down to this: who can you “trust” to give you accurate information? Well, no one really. Every on-line magazine, blog, news source and site is created by human minds.  Those minds may have certain agendas or philosophies they wish to espouse; they may be staffed by people who get their information wrong; they may be in the business of merely pulling as much traffic as possible in order to lure on-line advertisers, in order to make money.

   

     Whether it’s the New York Times, deemed a bastion of liberalism by many, or the Wall Street Journal, the most conservative of large newspapers, many people may not trust the content they’re reading based on their own biases, perspectives and opinions that one site or another is pushing an agenda they don’t agree with.

     

      Which means that, by and large, we look for, and share, those sites that support our own contentions, and avoid those that we feel don’t. Basically, we choose to support anything that fits within our personal prism, and choose to ignore anything that doesn’t–even if, on some level, we may doubt our own assumptions.

   

       So what’s the answer? Seek out as many different viewpoints and perspectives as possible–particularly when it comes to “news of the day.”  See what champions of the so-called left and so-called right are saying. Look for the paranoid ranters. Look for the more centrist. Perhaps, by absorbing a variety of different perspectives and through applying “critical thinking” to what you’re reading, you might be able to begin sifting through all the screaming and yelling, and actually begin forming your own opinion. An opinion based on a sampling of many differrent opinions.

     

      And, above all else, READ!

   

       Here’s a list of websites that I try to hit on a daily or weekly basis. The ones in italics are sites I hit every day. I don’t agree with everything, and sometimes, anything, on any of them. But it’s a start in the rather challenging task of forming your own opinion in a world with so much clashing information.

FROM THE RIGHT

Drudgereport.com. It’s a news aggregator, meaning it links to a slew of websites around the web. But it’s a very influential website; if something is breaking, you’re more likely to see it here first as opposed to anywhere else. Matt Drudge himself is a slimy little conservative, but this is the first site I hit every morning.

Nationalreview.com Launched by conservative icon William F. Buckley in 1959, this is a must-see for conservative views on just about everything.

Weeklystandard.com.Self-professed neoconservative magazine of record.

Big Dumb Idiot. Much easier reading the vitriol that sprews from fat-heads mouth than listening to it.

FROM THE LEFT

Dailybeast.com, on-line magazine owned by Newsweek

Dailykos.com Tows the Democratic party line, but some good reading

The Nation: Self-annointed flagship publication of the left.

Tnr.com. On-line presence of the New republic flagship of the liberal intelligentsia since 1914. Mostly politics, primarily foreign affairs.

Slate.com On-line magazine started by a former editor of the new republic, now owned by the Washington post

Salon.com, On-line magazine, more liberal  leaning than slate, , more culture and arts than politics

PROGRESSIVE

Truthdig.com : progressive with links to some of the best political journalists in America , like Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, Chris hedges, Robert Scheer.

Mother Jones.  Downright Commie at times !

ALTERNATIVE 

The Utne Reader. Great compendium of more than 1,500 alternative publications around the country and world.

Good old-fashioned investigative journalism:

The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Libertarian Mumbo-Jumbo

http://reason.com/ Reason Magazine.

WONKY NON-PARTISAN POLITICAL STUFF  

National Journal: Inside-the-Beltway, political insider kind of stuff. But if you’re a political junkie, you’ll appreciate it.

From the (somewhat) lunatic fringe

Prisonplanet.com also infowars.com. If you’r econspiracy oriented, check out Alex Jones rantings. I think he’s border-line insane, but he’s a lightning rod for any and all conspiracies. Many view him as a right-wing nutjob. But his particular mode of reasoning is always of interest.

Countercurrents.org, long essays usually anti-establishment, a little more centered than prisonplanet, but lots of paranoid ranting.

Then of course, there are the mainstream print media: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone.com.

For an international perspective:

bbc.com

http://www.aljazeera.com

Foreign Policy used to be a stodgy, academic journal that was a real snooze-fest. It’s now owned by the Washington Post Co., and, contrary to what critics of the lamestream media might opine, has revamped into a very readable on-line presence. Seems pretty balanced, as there’s even a blog run by conservative commentators, Shadow Goverment

And the Economist is just the shit. Probably leans a bit to the right on global economic issues, but great writing and reporting.

And just to check yourself:

Skeptic Magazine. Most of the information on this site can only be obtained via subscription, but there is some free content. It’s slogan, “Examining Extraordinary Claims and Promoting Science” says it all.

Snopes. Ever get one of those annoying e-mail messages about some virus infecting a Christmas Tree app on Facebook that will crash your computer, or chicken jerky treats are killing dogs, or heard about kidnappers abducting kids at amusement parks by dyeing their captive’s hair? This website, which I believe is run by a married couple with no evident political or social leanings, diligently researches these and all kinds of other urban legends.

This is not a perfect list in any way, but if there’s a topic of interest or concern to you, these sites can absolutely be used as sources to at least begin your inquiry. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but, taken together, they can absolutely give you more of a perspective than simply clicking on some link that you see on your FB timeline or in your e-mail.