What's worse, misinformation or censorship?
Misinformation is defined as "incorrect or misleading information presented as fact, either intentionally or unintentionally. Disinformation is a subset of misinformation, that which is deliberately deceptive. Rumors are information not attributed to any particular source, and so are unreliable and often unverified, but can turn out to be either true or false. Even if later retracted, misinformation can continue to influence actions and memory."(X)
Indeed, with so much talk about how horrible misinformation is, we need to understand that it is natural for humans to actively participate in its creation and sustainment. Cognitively, we "modify" what we see to fit our world view and because of motivated reasoning and familiarity heuristics we tend to hang on to those arguments and explanations that resonate with us. Confirmation bias is also to blame in the creation and spread of what may be labeled misinformation.
The advertising industry is notable for spreading misinformation and sometimes, yes, disinformation. Hence, it would only be right to censor ads, right? WRONG
Instead, disclaimers or content warnings are utilized in order to qualify or warn the consumer.
It is each individual's experience what essentially shapes what we understand and what we want to communicate. It is that SO WRONG? Not really. How about understanding that one's experience may be someone else's misinformation? Think about it, even in trials you have expert witnesses that argue in opposite sides with exactly the same evidence...how do you explain that??
Information that may be misleading but not necessarily false is always based on someone's opinion or experience. We engage within misinformation all the time.
Most recently, with the COVID pandemic, misinformation has been given a lot of attention. The problem is that in some instances, what has been labeled "misinformation" was simply another side of the argument or a different approach at handling issues. Surprisingly, "misinformation" early on had to be accepted later as fact in some instances. It has been interesting to see how equally qualified scientist can vary so much in opinions. Take for example Sweden: this country has utilized voluntary compliance and individual responsibility as a strategy to combat the pandemic. Very different approach than the United States and other countries. Surely their actions are based on research and data (science) in addition to their cultural beliefs (X)
Similarly, vaccine mandates do not exist in all countries. We all look at the same data and yet we chose different approaches. Some may argue that the mandates have been premature (too soon to implement and enforce) since what was believed about the vaccine, did not hold to be true. That is, the available vaccines do not prevent infection or the spread of the virus.
Instead of censoring information (by labeling it "misinformation"), how about focusing on making people aware of how our brains work and how to better "measure" information out there? Why not utilize content warnings or disclaimers just like advertisements do?
Remember that information can be vetted right or wrong, but censorship annihilates information.
Censorship defined is "the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions and other controlling bodies." (X)
Censorship means people in power do not have any faith in their citizens' ability to make an informed decision. It effectively says, "we cannot trust that you can understand and freely chose..." Frankly, it is insulting and demeaning in so many ways.
Censorship has been practiced for centuries and its primary goal is to suppress freedom of thought and choice (X) Censorship only brings about resistance and extremism. It pulls people apart; it is divisive and exponential in growth.
The Z Form can be used as a trigger or content warning for the recipient. It invites the exchange of information (yes, even misinformation) while preparing parties for a true genuine connection, discussion.... Instead of self-censure and fear, choose authenticity and courage. Let Z Form help.