Visual literacy is a part of finding shared common ground
Hello again everyone!
I'm delighted to be part of the cohort of librarians attending the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting this week. yesterday I attended a virtual session on COVID Misinformation presented by a university press officer, a freelance science journalist, and a science journal publisher. The science journalist, Wudan Yan, shared Michelle Nijhuis's "The Pocket Guide to Bullshit Prevention,"
(https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2014/04/29/the-pocket-guide-to-bullshit-prevention/) which I checked out after the talk. Nijhuis wrote this piece in 2014, and says the guide is how journalists prevent being "wrong in print" -- publishing a story that turns out to be untrue. In an example, she provides an image. And that got me thinking about how easy it is for people to be fooled by what they see and how little time we spend, relative to other kinds of information literacy, on visual literacy. This includes everything from the little tells that make it easier to spot a doctored photo on an Instagram feed to the basics of reading charts and graphs. Images are powerful because our brains what to trust what our eyes are seeing. Librarians can and probably should make this a priority in helping our communities navigate the information ecosystem. Visual literacy is another important piece of helping communities find common ground in shared facts.