Teaching the art of reading the newspaper with incredulity
An excerpt from Notes on Germany & The War, by Jorge Luis Borges
In the third article, Free Thought and Official Propaganda, [Bertrand Russell] proposes that elementary schools teach the art of reading the newspaper with incredulity. I believe that this Socratic discipline would not be useless. Of the people I know, very few practice it at all. They let themselves be deceived by typographical or syntactical devices; they think that an event has occurred because it is printed in large black letters; they don’t want to know that the statement: ‘All the aggressor’s attempts to advance beyond B have failed miserably” is merely a euphemism for admitting the loss of B. Russell proposes that the State attempt to immunize people against such deceptions and sophistries. For example, he suggests that students should study Napoleon’s final defeats through the ostensibly triumphant bulletins in Moniteur. A typical assignment would be to read the history of the wars with France in English textbooks, and then to rewrite that history from the French point of view.