Discernment in 2021: Tips for Better Use of Sources (Part 2)

I’ve written previously about the role of good sources in the exercise of discernment. To flesh them out, I’ve also offered some practical tips: closest is best, deprioritize opinion, and look past headlines.

Here we consider three more tips for better use of sources.

4. Understand “science” and studies.

a. What science is

Science is a really big deal these days. We encounter claims labeled “the science” every day, many of them contradictory.

If “the science” is contradictory, what should we think? Two options:

  • Science is pretty much useless.
  • “Science” is a misused term.

Unfortunately, many Christians lean toward the first view. Given what science really is, though, the second option is a far better explanation.

Science is nothing more than the work of figuring out the observable bits of how the material world works. Like most other kinds of work, it’s a blessing from God and does a lot of helpful things.

Also like other kinds of work, it …

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Discernment in 2021: Tips for Better Use of Sources (Part 1)

“Discernment” is shorthand for the skill of identifying what’s good, right, true and most important from among inferior alternatives. The fact that discernment requires a maturing process through “training” (Heb. 5:14) tells us that these inferior alternatives often seem superior. It also tells us we can get better at it.

Good thing! People have instant access to more claims and counter-claims than at any time in human history. Christians need discernment more than ever before.

I’ve written previously about the role of good sources in the exercise of discernment. Building on those principles—and drawing on my own and others’ experiences—I want to pass on some practical tips.

1. Closest is best.

People who teach writing and research often use the term “primary sources.” Definitions vary slightly, but the gist is the same.

A primary source is an eyewitness account of an event or data obtained through original statistical or scientific research. (American University)

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Breaking off the engagement: what the ad-peddling model that dominates the internet is doing to us

"When platforms make their livings by harvesting and selling our attention, they achieve that by shoving unsolicited junk into our minds, while we obediently scroll down and down and down." - Chris Best

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How the News Disrupts Our Belonging

"Today the Soviet Union is gone but newspeak and a thousand forms of disinformation thrive. I can do frontline reporting ... and a reader will email to say I didn’t see what I saw because it doesn’t conform to a political narrative. She and the rest of us can fall prey to platform algorithms and manipulated content disgorged from a news cycle that never sleeps.

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