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The way in which information is delivered to our brains effects the way in which we process the information being conveyed. Since the advent of television and now the internet, our ability to think critically has been challenged and our attention span reduced.

The complexities of modern society demand a reasoned response. Democracy depends on an informed citizenry. Where are we headed? 

Socrates worried that writing arguments down would soften our thinking. In 1440, the Printing Press was invented and the dissemination of printed material (20 million volumes by 1500) hastened the spread of information and changed the structure of society by disseminating ideas to the people and challenging political and religious authority. In the mid 19th Century, the ubiquity of newspapers and magazines lead to the rise of advertising. Commercialism in the 1920's and 30s was designed to manufacture desire in order to provide consumers for the over-production of manufactured goods resulting from the industrial revolution.

In 1934 FDR established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to control broadcasting licenses. That year, the FCC enacted the Mayflower Doctrine to restrain the “further commercialized, conservative-biased and corporate dominated medium” (FCC chairman Larry Fly).  The Mayflower Doctrine was contested as a form of censorship and was replaced in 1949 by The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to  present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission's view — honest, equitable, and balanced. Ronald Reagan dismantled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. In 1996, Clinton signed the Telecommunications Reform Act which allowed only 6 Media companies to buy up all the smaller outlets, thereby creating the Media Giants we live with today. FOX News was born in 1996, starting the fracturing of the news into left and right bubbles that tell two divergent narratives about the nation and the world, which has lead to each side calling the other "fake news".

In 1967 Marshall McLuhan asserted in his seminal work that the Media is the Message: The way information is conveyed affects the information. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr asserts that the internet is reshaping the way that our brain takes in information.

It is in the context of our media intake that our politics have evolved.

BOOKS
The Medium is the Message by Marshall Macluhan
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr
The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online by Mary Aiken

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