Today, the University community comes together to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s 274th birthday. This commemoration offers a valuable opportunity to reflect on an issue that surrounds many facets of our lives: information. Throughout the past year, the country has witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of misinformation and propaganda, often for the sake of political gain. This trend poses a great danger to our community’s ability to make decisions based on verified information.
The rise of social media and the personalization of online content allow the most incendiary stories to get the most attention, regardless of their accuracy. Not only does this facilitate the spread of misinformation among citizens, but it also traps people in an ideological echo chamber, unwilling to hear what the other side has to say and often resorting to misguided attacks towards the opposition’s perspectives and beliefs. As we commemorate Jefferson and his foundational belief in the “illimitable freedom of the human mind,” let us engage with each other in meaningful dialogue and critical thinking.
The recent presidential election season and false assertions by the Trump administration show the importance of being able to distinguish between reputable news sources and those which propagate misinformation. Conspiracy theories and the spawn of “alternative facts,” which have the potential to influence policy-making decisions, have presented significant threats to our democracy — a system that cannot exist without a well-informed public.
As The Cavalier Daily’s editorial board, we strive to facilitate meaningful dialogue by providing factually-based, insightful opinions on issues we believe are important to the University community. We urge our readers to continue to think for themselves, while holding us accountable for the content we produce. We urge members of the community to embody the Jeffersonian model of challenging their beliefs and broadening their perspectives through sincere discussion and productive debate.