Opposition research
June 3, 2016 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to get informed on a wide variety of political topics so that I can speak intelligently about them when they come up in conversation. I am looking for reputable sources for both the left/right sides of an issue, but would like to learn more about the Republican/conservative/right side as those are the opposite of my political leanings.

I just started watching The West Wing, and I was wondering what resources people recommend to act as a "brief" to get me up to speed. I don't expect to immediately be as well-versed as Sam Seaborn being "for" school vouchers, but I would like to eventually hold my own against those sort of arguments. I haven't really engaged in politics before, but I cannot remain silent any longer. I want to learn enough to argue against myself, and without the argument just being a passionate yelling about feelings and personal attacks. My previous foray into politics was through a toxic LDS homeschool Libertarian group over a decade ago, and it left me very confused about what sources of information to trust.
posted by chaostician to Law & Government (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might find this AskMe helpful.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:43 AM on June 3, 2016

Googling college debate resources will probably help you find a good balance of stuff because you don't get to pick your side in debate competitions and thus have to be well-versed in the arguments from all sides.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:04 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

it left me very confused about what sources of information to trust.

Then the experience did you a favor! I mean that.

I work in the sciences and help lawmakers and companies make decisions about their policies as they relate to ostensibly objective information. And yet, there are no foundationally objective sources. Even peer reviewed scientific publications have biases, some of which are known and established in their own right, but the preponderance of biases in any medium are "unknown unknowns," or unquantifiable. That's to say, they're built into the system.

A better goal than finding sources one considers objective is to get practiced at identifying what systematic biases any given source may be reasonably expected to bring to the table. One identifies these resources through personal assessment over time. And by extension, that relegates a quick Google search to the bottom of the barrel in terms of completeness, trustworthiness, and so on (I know that's obvious but it deserves to be said again and again--search engine algorithms are increasingly the source of armchair expertise, which is a mixed blessing but should never be the crutch propping up a serious decision).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:36 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

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