The importance of knowledge in a changing world

Hello, readers! I’m ready for a new year with blog updates. This year I have a subject called social studies English. This subject is perfect for me, as it combines two of my favorite subjects into one subject. I get to debate and discuss society at large – and that in English!

The assignment given to me by Ann, my teacher in social studies English, was to read an op-ed in the New Yorker about President Trump and his lack of understanding of international relations and geopolitics. In our modern and globalized world, it is detrimental not to have a basic understanding of world history, and geopolitics. Especially if you have been chosen to govern the worlds most powerful country. Being the most powerful country in the world both financially and militarily comes with a lot of responsibility. President Trump’s actions and words have effects both domestic and foreign. We saw that when he first failed to condemn neo-nazis and blamed “many sides”.

In the op-ed from the New Yorker, President Trump’s latest embarrassment was made during a state visit from the Lebanese Prime minister Saad al-Hariri. He said that the Lebanese armed forces were “on the front line in the fight against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah”.  Hezbollah, which is a Lebanese Shia-movement, is actually part of the Lebanese government coalition, headed by Lebanese President Michael Aoun.
The New Yorker lists up several mistakes made by Trump, like when he arrived in Israel from the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia and uttered the words “I just came from the Middle-East”, forgetting that Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are in fact considered a part of the Middle-East. This is a fact that he would have known if he had studied Arab geopolitics, just like all the modern presidents did before him. He would have had some knowledge about the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Another mistake that Trump made, was mixing together Napoleon Bonaparte and Napoleon III. It seems like an innocent mistake, but Bonaparte and Napoleon III are two very different figures in French history. One was a dictator that invaded Russia and Egypt and brought doom upon himself and France, and the other a popularly elected leader.
All of these political mistakes aren`t important to his core voters. They detest the political elite and what they deem to be “political correctness”. To them, all they need to hear is his populist message. President Trump may be unaware of the outside world, but at home, his populist message is still going strong.

For us not to become victims of populism and easy solutions to complicated political questions, we must be educated. In order for us to learn from our own history, we must attend history class. When I found out that many Norwegian students ditch history class, or dislike it, I was very much surprised. This shows us that we also have a task in front of us so that Norway’s leaders tomorrow don’t become oblivious to history, geopolitics, and cultural relativism.

One of the main pushers and main factors behind American populism is fake news. Here you have some tips on how to see if its fake or real news:

  1. Be skeptical of headlines – Fake news usually has a very catchy title with heaps of capital letters and exclamation marks. If the title claims shocking things and they seem too crazy to be true, that’s probably it.
  2. Take a close look at the url adress – Most of the websites who create the fake news will imitate the authentic news site by changing a small detail in the URL address.
  3. Some news might be fake on purpose – Be critical of what kind of news you read. Don’t share anything that seems shady.
  4. Be aware of the dates – The false news might contain timelines that don’t make sense or have dates that have been changed.
  5. Look at the pictures – fake news often uses pictures which are photoshopped or manipulated in some other way.
  6. Check the evidence.– Check the writer’s sources to confirm that they are correct. If the news lacks evidence or puts their trust in unknown experts, it could testify fake news.
  7. Check other articles – If there are no other news sources reporting something about the news, it could indicate that it’s fake. If the news is reported by several sources you trust, there’s a bigger possibility that it’s true.
  8. Is the news just a joke?– Sometimes it might be difficult to tell apart the fake news and humor or satire. Check if the source is known for making parodies and if the details and style indicate that is is just supposed to be a joke.
  9. Look out for irregular formatting.
    Many websites that produce fake news contain spelling errors and/or irregular layouts. If the website you are receiving the news from check these boxes, you should be skeptical of their content.
  10. Judge the pictures.
    Fake news often use manipulated pictures or videos. Sometimes the pictures are real but used in another context. However, you can use a search engine to find the origin of the photo or video



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