Ethics should be the backbone of every decision made on a personal level. The values we hold, we demonstrate to the world by making choices that encompass them. All people have different values, and it is important to reflect on these throughout life, and to notice when your values change. Many of my values, I developed at an early age and I continue to hold these beliefs, but as I have grown and experienced diversity I allow for these values to change and grow with me. As I make decisions, especially important ones, I consider many things to ensure that the decisions align with my personal ethics. A few questions I ask myself are: is this choice going to do more harm than good?
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Fake news is everywhere, but why we believe it is still unclear. Drawing on neuroeconomics research in an Opinion published February 20th in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences , psychologists suggest that valuing our identity more than our accuracy is what leads us to accept incorrect information that aligns with our political party's beliefs. This value discrepancy, they say, can explain why high-quality news sources are no longer enough -- and understanding it can help us find better strategies to bridge the political divide. We're choosing what matters to us and how to engage with the world, whether that's which newspaper we pick up in the morning or what we have for breakfast," says senior author Jay Van Bavel, a psychologist at New York University. This is what he calls his identity-based model of belief. The idea is that we assign values to different ideas based on what matters to us most at the moment and then compare those values to decide which idea we believe is true. Because our political parties can provide us with a sense of belonging and help us define ourselves, agreeing with them can bolster our sense of self.
As high school social studies teachers in a swing state, election season is some of the most fertile ground for learning, and this past cycle—with all its splashy and expensive political ads—proved no exception. Our students are all in their mid teens, which means in the next presidential election, they will be eligible voters. In our usual social studies classes, we use a literacy platform called ThinkCERCA to build lessons on current events and other interesting topics to spur critical thinking and argumentative writing through carefully-selected passages, media, and a series of guided writing prompts. There was a wealth of information to choose from, and students studied multiple aspects of the election in depth.
Imagine a family -- two parents, two children -- at the dinner table. They are discussing the issues of the day, and learning from each other as each person expresses a viewpoint. Now think of an identical family, but this one discourages open discussion in favor of discipline and deference to the parents at the dinner table. Could simple differences like these affect our political identities? It turns out that yes, they do.