Except perhaps immediately before and during the Civil War, it’s hard to think of a time when Americans have been more polarized than now.

It’s tragically ironic that despite (and partly due to) technological advancements in communication, Americans increasingly disagree on objective facts and live in conflicting realities.

A growing number of Americans appear to be unable to tell the difference between commentary and objective news. Conspiracy theories run rampant.

This condition leaves our nation especially vulnerable to misinformation during the election season.

Vigilance is needed to look out for and recognize bogus information intended to confuse and discourage people from voting, undermine the legitimacy of elections or cause division. It’s coming from domestic and foreign sources, often on social media.

A Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 found that those who rely on social media for news are less likely to get accurate facts about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear unproven claims.

It’s a good idea to practice emotional skepticism and be mindful of bias in information sources. Before accepting important but questionable information, make the effort to confirm it with other sources.

A good starting point for combating polarization and misinformation is to broaden your sources of information.

Occasionally seek out sources that might offer a different perspective and do more than affirm your current views. Objectively consider news from sources preferred by people with views that differ from yours. Equip yourself to engage in conversation (hopefully constructive) with them.

Read a daily newspaper for a more balanced diet of national and international news coverage. Traditional network TV news programs often are more reliable than 24-hour news networks.

Broaden your news sources, be a critical information consumer and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you gain.

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