Media-based epistemology, faith, and skepticism

Media-based epistemology, faith, and skepticism 

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:24-29

What would Thomas have said today, had he seen the risen Christ on television or on YouTube?


“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Thomas was a skeptic.

Today one cannot believe what one sees when it comes to photos and videos, because these can be partially altered or wholly manufactured.

For the most part, because we have little choice, we defer to what we see – both photos and videos – and accept, as reality, that which we see, both on television and on YouTube.

September 11, 2001… Sandy Hook… the Boston Marathon Bombing… all of these events we observe via a screen, be it a television screen or a computer screen, or both.

How, then, can we know what we have observed is reality?

I would be more confident if, like Thomas, I could have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched these events myself, because I would know what I experienced.

Without first hand experience of people, places, and events we have a mediated experience, which is presented to us by media – mass and alternative.

The difference between mass and alternative media is important, because of the way in which they mediate events.

What interpretation, what narrative, what spin are these media putting on these events? Whose agenda do they support? Are they exposing or obfuscating truth? Are they exposing or obfuscating lies? Do they support or contradict the government?


Jesus gave us an important rule of thumb which is very helpful in discerning truth from lies when it comes to people’s speech and actions:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” ~ Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus advised us to be skeptical.

Jesus told us people will use clever deceptions in order to deceive us.

Jesus told us the actions of the peoples who wish to deceive us will not match their words.

This is very simple advise, yet millions of people, many of whom claim to be followers of Jesus, have allowed themselves to be deceived, because they have failed to take Jesus’ advise.

Such peoples ignore the lawless, brutal, and murderous actions of Israel and the US as these government mercilessly slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent peoples because they believe the empty rhetoric coming from these governments regarding human rights and the rule of law.

Obama US Israel_Higg

The words of these governments don’t match their deeds…. and millions of so-called and self-professed “Christians” ignore the murderous deeds of these governments, because they choose to take them at their word in spite of their evil deeds.

Such peoples aren’t following Christ, because they are supporting mass murder. Their words don’t match the deeds of the true followers of Christ:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

Because of mass media-government driven fear, propaganda, and trauma-based mind control, these peoples have been duped into following Satan instead of Christ:

“The thief [=Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ Jesus (John 10:10)

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” ~ Jesus (John 8:43-47)


“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” ~ Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

When it comes to media, especially mass media, people tend to watch and listen to the narratives and interpretation of events they have learned to accept as true.

People make sense of the world by creating for themselves or, more commonly, accepting – uncritically – narratives and interpretations of the world around them which have been created for them by others. Others with power over them.

The first step in being critical and skeptical of media mediated events is to ask ourselves: “Whose interpretation, explanation, and narrative of this event is this? Do these reinforce the power and authority of those in authority who have power over me? Or do they not?”

Control of the media – both mainstream and alternative – belongs to certain corporations, organizations, governments, and peoples.

Mainstream media outlets are wholly owned subsidiaries of enormously wealthy and powerful transnational corporations with particular agendas which have reason to use mass media to influence peoples’ thinking to support these agendas.

Alternative media outlets are sometimes offshoots of these transnational corporations, organizations, and governments. Especially the well financed ones, which use the latest, most expensive technologies, and appear as though they have the same resources as mainstream media.


Other alternative media consists of low tech, low budget, outlets, which often amounts to a face, voice, or both on YouTube with someone’s living room or bedroom as a backdrop…. as opposed to expensive graphics.

Money = power = influence = control and money is most often used by those in power to obfuscate rather than reveal the truth.

Money = power = influence = control and money is most often used by those in power to fortify the establishment narrative and interpretation of events, although not always. Sometimes those with money and power disguise their alternative media outlets as contra-establishment in order to maintain their power and control over media consumers via interpretations and narratives of events which appear to be critical of the establishment but, at the end of the day, tell us there’s nothing we can do about it.

Alex Jones’ Infowars and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now are good examples of such alternative, yet money and power elite controlled, alternative media outlets. PBS is a good example of government produced, seemingly independent, alternative media, which is in fact a mainstream media outlet.

The question: “How can we know?” is an important one. How can we know what’s happening on the other side of the planet? or on the other side of the country? or on the other side of town? The best way to know is to be like Thomas: go there and see, hear, taste, touch, and smell what’s happening for ourselves. And when possible I think we should, if we want un-mediated events and experiences. But since this isn’t feasible for all events in all places at all times we must rely on media mediated events, along with media interpretations and narratives presented to us along with these events, which is why we should be very skeptical of all media mediated events, especially considering the technological ability people have today to alter photos, videos, voices, etc.

In short, I would advise NOT placing our faith in ANY media outlet – mass or alternative.


Faith = Trust and I don’t think we should be placing our trust in any media outlet.

Consider the following statement applied to media mediated events:

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

People today often believe what they see because they have seen via media mediated events, and peoples also believe what they have not seen via media mediated events, which should be of great concern to us. We need to be critical thinkers and consumers of media – mass and alternative.

Two or three eyewitnesses

“On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.” ~ Moses (Deuteronomy 17:6)

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 18:16)

“This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” ~ Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 13:1)

The testimony of eyewitnesses – peoples who saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched – who were present at events is most valuable in establishing what, in fact, actually occurred.

eyewitness news

Eyewitnesses to events are presented to us via media for this reason.

In court, these eyewitnesses must be physically present, which they are not when presented to us via media, and this is for very important reasons.

In person, we have time to discern whether or not we believe these eyewitnesses are lying or telling the truth, whereas via media we most often don’t.

In person we can get a gut feeling… an intuition… concerning these eyewitnesses, which should not be discounted, because intuition is an important part of who we as human persons are. Intuitions such as we have about someone in person cannot be compared to intuitions we may or may not have about people as they are mediated to us via mass mainstream and alternative media.

We should alway remain skeptical of eyewitness testimony, whether in person or via media, because they could have something against the accused, they could be working for the government, or they could be mistaken, which is why two or three witnesses are required in the biblical passages quoted above. A plurality of eyewitnesses gives us different perspectives and observations, which one person alone cannot.

Wag The Dog

Storyline – After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.

VIDEO – WAG THE DOG – Trailer – (1997) – HQ –


“In some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connexion to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep people frightened’. This was an idea that had literally never occurred to him.” ~ George Orwell – 1984 (chapter 2)

The “wag the dog” scenario should be of great concern to us, because it shows us how vulnerable we can be to manipulation via mass media productions presented to us via mass media as real events when in fact these events may not be real at all but only Hollywood-style productions.

The December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting revealed, to many peoples, the very real possibility that crisis actors were being presented to the public by mainstream mass media as parents who had lost their children in the shooting. Absent eyewitnesses to the shooting, photographs of the victims, video of the shooter, and what appeared to many as bad acting on the part of parents, many peoples became suspicious and doubted the reality of the event as it was mediated to them via mainstream mass media outlets. The possibility that the Sandy Hook shooting was in fact a Sandy Hoax “wag the dog” scenario became even more likely when parents who had lost their children in the shooting immediately began speaking to the media about banning AR-15 rifles. Not just assault rifles in general, mind you, but AR-15 rifles in particular, which was the type of rifle the shooter used, according to the mainstream media. Parents being so specific regarding the precise nomenclature of a firearm does seem rather odd, considering their children had just been murdered and hadn’t even been buried yet, does it not?

Sandy Hook parent Robbie Parker – seen laughing it up before “getting into character” before he approached the mainstream media cameras and microphones led many people to believe they were observing a manufactured, Hollywood-style production designed to persuade the uncritical mass media consuming American public to embrace more stringent gun control regulations, which is exactly what happened. 90% of American public – so it is said – accepted this narrative and its accompanying agenda.

VIDEO – Sandy Hook Shooting Exposed – “Robbie Parker” nominee Academy Awards? –


“Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? As the study of justified belief, epistemology aims to answer questions such as: How we are to understand the concept of justification? What makes justified beliefs justified? Is justification internal or external to one’s own mind? Understood more broadly, epistemology is about issues having to do with the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular areas of inquiry.”


VIDEO – What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept –


“Much of epistemology has arisen either in defense of, or in opposition to, various forms of skepticism. Indeed, one could classify various theories of knowledge by their responses to skepticism. For example, rationalists could be viewed as skeptical about the possibility of empirical knowledge while not being skeptical with regard to a priori knowledge and empiricists could be seen as skeptical about the possibility of a priori knowledge but not so with regard to empirical knowledge. In addition, views about many traditional philosophical problems, e.g., the problem of other minds or the problem of induction, can be seen as restricted forms of skepticism that hold that we cannot have knowledge of any propositions in some particular domain normally thought to be within our ken.”


“Most organizations and institutions have become reliant on their information technology infrastructure to a lesser or greater degree. Indeed information technology is seen by many as a cost-efficient way to solve a multitude of problems facing our complex contemporary society. One can almost say that information technology has become construed as the default technology for solving a whole raft of technical and social problems such as health provision, security, governance, etc. One could also argue that it has become synonymous with society’s view of modernization and progress. For most it seems obvious that information technology has made it possible for humans to continue to construct increasingly complex systems of coordination and social ordering—systems without which contemporary society would not be able to exist in its present form. To say the least, we, as contemporary human beings, have our manner of being made possible through a rather comprehensive entanglement with information and communication technology”

Phenomenological Approaches to Ethics and Information Technology –


“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.”

Edward Bernays, “Propaganda” –

“Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about the active or passive participation in its actions of a mass of individuals, psychologically unified through psychological manipulations and incorporated in an organization.” ~ Jaques Ellul in: “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes”

“The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass. It is at this point that propaganda can be most effective.”  ~ Jaques Ellul in: “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes”

See: “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” –

See: “The Technological Society” –

“We were keeping our eye on .1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. the roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.


“But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another–slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”

See: Neil Postman – Amusing ourselves to death –

See: Media as Epistemology –

“The epistemology of television, Postman argues, is inherently shallow. The medium demands that people keep paying attention, but this attention only goes towards the future. “now…this”, if you will. Or: “what else is on?” By contrast, any written medium reflects the past just as much as present and future. It takes time to read a certain text, and while you are reading, you might look forward and backwards at time to see what was said and what will be said. That is: the exposition of an argument. Or the exposition of a fictional world, or poetry, and so on. The written word is a powerhouse of exposition, that demands not just immediate attention, but memory, logical thought, and imagination. The medium of television, on the other hand, only demands immediate attention and some memory, but not a whole lot of it. You are allowed not to follow, comprehend, and forget. The ‘last time on’ reel is direct evidence of this. And by the necessity of advertising to pay for the content, and how that advertising reshapes television programs, the only type of content that really thrives within this medium, is show business. And show business depends on the viewer having fun, of being entertained.”

See: Different medium, different epistemology: amusing ourselves to death? –

“Postman’s clearly articulated thesis in Amusing Ourselves to Death is “to make the epistemology of television visible again” (p. 80.) According to Webster’s, epistemology is “the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity.” Partly derived from the Greek word epistanai meaning “to understand,” I would paraphrase this thesis as a desire to help average people think critically about the content of the multimedia messages they/we view and consume each day, and become more intentional about the choices they/we make about those messages on a regular basis.”

See: The Epistemology of Digital Media and TV in “the Age of Show Business” –


“As a third example of how media influences epistemology, Postman discusses the trial of Socrates. In his opening address, Socrates apologizes for not having prepared a rhetorical speech, which illustrates how the Greeks considered rhetoric not as a distracted adornment to truth (as we often do), but rather as the form in which truth was delivered. Eloquence and formal organization were the means through which they understood something to be true, rather than simply as a form to organize truth. To speak spontaneously and without prepared form was considered insulting and a cause for skepticism, and could suggest why Socrates was found guilty – he did not attempt to formulate his defense in what Athenians would have thought a ‘truthful’ manner.

“In other words, “truth does not, and never has, come unadorned” (22). Instead, the way a culture defines “truth” is largely contingent on the means, mediums, and technologies through which they receive it. Postman speaks of truth as a bias for each culture, and illustrates some of our own biases. For instance, our society is largely reliant on numbers to illustrate our truth, to the point that we often consider no other source (like poetry or parable) as capable of communicating economic truth. We are overly-reliant on one form, in the same way ancient tribes were overly-reliant on proverbs.”

See: Amusing Ourselves to Death Summary and Analysis –

“Which factors determine how well citizens acquit themselves in getting relevant information or knowledge on political matters (where “knowledge”, like “information”, entails truth)? This partly depends on citizens themselves, in ways we shall explore below. But it also depends partly on the institutional structures used in the communication or transmission of information and misinformation. This is why the media play a critical role in a democracy. It is a commonplace that democracy requires a free press. Why? Because only a free press can ferret out crucial political truths and communicate them to the public. It is the responsibility of reporters and editors to seek and publish the truth about matters of state because, as argued above, citizens’ knowing the truth is crucial to their making correct decisions (correct as judged by their own desiderata). The foregoing theme expresses traditional thinking on this topic.”

See: The Social Epistemology of Blogging –


“Since many individuals have unconsciously placed their genuine reasoning faculties in abeyance and often lack a valid knowledge of politics and history, their unspoken faith in government and the broader political economy to protect and further their interests is groundless. Against this milieu those genuinely capable of utilizing their reasoning capacities in the pursuit of truth are often held up as heretical for their failure to accept what is presented as reality, with the requisite “conspiracy theory” label wielded in Orwellian fashion to denote such abnormal intellectual activity.”

Source: False Flags, Fake Media Reporting, Deceiving the Public: Social Engineering and the 21st Century “Truth Emergency” –

“Along these lines and despite countervailing facts and inconsistencies the official story of the Sandy Hook shooting is now part of the nation’s collective experience, consciousness and memory. To declare that the shooting ‘never took place’ is cause for intense opprobrium in most polite circles where, in familiar Orwellian fashion, the media-induced trance and dehistoricized will to believe maintain their hold.” ~ James Tracy

Source: Sandy Hook School Massacre Part II: Continued Ambiguity and Augmented Realities –

“[Professor] James Tracy will pay $1,000 to any academic, journalist, public servant or private citizen capable of prevailing in a debate with him on the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, 2012. The successful discussant will convincingly argue with appropriate prosecutory evidence (forensic, laboratory, audio-visual) that Adam Lanza was the sole perpetrator of the incident.”

See: The $1,000 Challenge –

We should not be uncritical, unthinking, true believers of everything and anything we consume via media – mass or alternative.

True believer: “One who is deeply, sometimes fanatically devoted to a cause, organization, or person: “a band of true believers bonded together against all those who did not agree with them” (Theodore Draper).”


See: Jonestown, 9/11, Sandy Hook, and True Believers –

VIDEO – The Sandy Hook Controversy – James Tracy on GRTV –


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About ajmacdonaldjr

writer, author, blogger
This entry was posted in Activism, Bible, Culture, Entertainment, Ethics, Government, Literary Theory, Media, Mind Control, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Press, propaganda, Psychology, Society, Symbolism, Terrorism, Violence, War, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Media-based epistemology, faith, and skepticism

  1. Pingback: Jeff C Meltdown: Hoaxes, False Flags, and Irrelevant Lunacy | A. J. MacDonald, Jr.

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