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Critical Thinking & COVID-19 XIV Lockdown Protests

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While most Americans support the lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, a tiny fraction of the population has engaged in (often armed) protests. While the topic of protests is primarily a matter for political philosophy and ethics, critical thinking applies here as well. While the protests have been miniscule in size relative to the population of the country, they have attracted considerable media attention—they make the national news regularly and the story is repeated and amplified. On the one hand, this does make sense: armed protests against efforts to protect Americans from the virus are news. On the other hand, media coverage is  disproportional to the size and importance of the protests.  The non-right leaning media is often attacked as having a liberal bias and while that claim can be debated, it is evident that the media does have a general bias in favor of stories that attract attention. Public and private news services need to offer stories that attract attention to draw an audience—they need an audience to stay in operation. Protests, often armed, certainly pull an audience.  It can also be argued that some news services have a clear political agenda that is served by covering such stories. While it can be argued that such stories are worth covering in the news, disproportional coverage can lead people to commit the Spotlight Fallacy. This fallacy is committed when a person uncritically assumes that the degree of media coverage given to something is proportional to how often it occurs or its importance. It is also committed when it is uncritically assumed that the media coverage of a group is representative of the size or importance of the group.   Form 1 Premise 1: X receives extensive coverage in the media. Conclusion: X occurs in a frequency or is important proportional to its coverage.   Form 2 Premise 1: People of type P or Group G receive extensive coverage in the media. Conclusion: The coverage of P or G is proportional to. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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