Analyzing sources: The Election and Game of Thrones

The level of debate has become abysmal and this latest election has just about driven me to despair. The idea that all sides are equal is a disaster because people don’t have the ability to distinguish good sources from bad. When you confront people with the complete trash of their sources, they revert to pure emotion and tune out everything that follows.

I was pondering this problem and it occurred to me that we need to show people how to judge sources without getting too academic or defensive.

The two biggest topics right now in my feed are the Election and Game of Thrones spoilers. Now I’m not going to actually spoil GoT, I just want to use it as an example of source analysis.  All of my examples are fictitious.

Right now GoT is filming and a lot of the comings and goings are being scrutinized by show fans and media. Media outlets know that a juicy spoiler will bring them readership and fans who have insider knowledge can get quick adoration by other fans. There are of course various factions in the fandom based on different fan theories and favorite characters and ships (relationship fans). If you are a fan and have a pet theory, you will eat up any spoiler or potential spoiler that supports your theory.

There are different kinds of spoiler based on how reliable they are. The most reliable are recordings, mostly photos taken with long-range cameras. If you have a photo of Kit Harrington french kissing Alfie Allen, that’s a huge spoiler. Suddenly all the Jon Snow/Theon Grayjoy shippers would be ecstatic.

Another form of spoiler is interviews with the writers, GRRM, the actors, etc. Kit Harrington saying, “Jon Snow and Theon Grayjoy will be running off to Dorne and getting married.” is huge. However, the actors are trained to not spoil and will instead say, “Jon will be exploring new relationships at sea.” Thousands of fans will be discussing what that means: will Jon be marrying Theon? Will he start dating a whale? Generally these spoilers are somewhat reliable, but not set in stone.

The most common kind of spoiler is the least reliable. GoTlvr123 posts on a spoiler thread “Costuming sources I met at a bar said that there is a wedding dress in Kit Harrington’s size.” This will lead to endless threads on Jon Snow getting married or maybe Sansa getting married but in a comic scene Jon Snow needs to escape in disguise and so is wearing her wedding gown.

When you are reading an article about the Election please consider if the item was a GoT spoiler, where would it fit in the described range? If it’s the last please don’t believe it or post it until something more reliable comes along.

Thank you!

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