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Before I start, I should mention that the closest thing I found here was this post, but the comments say something I really want to avoid, which is to sound like a [political ideology here]-nut.


I am enrolled in a undergrad degree in Brazil called "Comunicação e Marketing, which I believe translates to Communications and Marketing. In any case, this degree focus mostly on the marketing side, but we still have to learn some theory first. I love it, but I feel like I'm having some issues at the moment.

  • I have been told both by my professors but also by people in Humanities that we're basically being critical all the time about what happens in society. Right now we're talking about the impact of mass media on society in class, with positive and negative examples.

  • Whenever I try to study something within this field but not mentioned in class, usually more "recent" things, I'm bombarded with terms like "decolonize this and that", "Global South", and something related to Chomsky's work.

My question is how to approach certain topics from a certain POV that denies what the professor is saying?

Whenever I want to give a counter-point to what is shown in class, I have a hard time finding academic sources that aren't totally wack or associated with the far-right. I rely mostly on what I have experienced or seen people talk, rather than quoting a theorist in this field (or adjacent fields like sociology). I'm not sure if this 100% frowned upon, not recommended, or I should be more careful when doing it.

Are there better ways to search for content in the Humanities? I pretty much just use Google or use some of the references on Wikipedia to see if I find anything useful.

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    "I rely mostly on what I have experienced or seen people talk, rather than quoting a theorist in this field" why?
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 19, 2022 at 12:12
  • @EarlGrey I think N.I has addressed this. May be my fault
    – Tet
    Apr 19, 2022 at 13:57
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    What's the point of just disagreeing with someone regardless of the merits of their claim? Does it make you feel smart or assertive? Are you somehow angry toward anybody? I don't get it.
    – henning
    Apr 19, 2022 at 15:32
  • @henning Not necessarily feeling smart or assertive, but I know that I often come across as a smartass. Maybe I should have worded it better. We just had a class yesterday where our professor mentioning being cautious of not being extremist when societal standards change, mentioned a book I don't recall the name (sorry), and I wanted to contribute somehow. I wasn't really disagreeing with him in this point. But when it comes to terms like "Global South", which I know is not a exclusive to academia, the first thing I feel is something negative. It's definitely some kind of confirmation bias.
    – Tet
    Apr 19, 2022 at 18:27
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    Studying a new field will always feel like being bombarded by new terms. What is it about these specifically, do you think your instructor is using them without defining them properly? Apr 19, 2022 at 19:05

2 Answers 2

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Whenever I want to give a counter-point to what is shown in class, I have a hard time finding academic sources that aren't totally wack or associated with the far-right.

That's because you are committing a basic and fundamental error. You have a preconceived opinion, and you are looking for sources to corroborate it. This isn't being "contrarian." This is a textbook example of confirmation bias.

Your method should be the reverse. You should first read the literature, analyze and compare texts, and only then form your opinion based on what you have read. You will then naturally have a body of texts to support your opinion, because your opinion will have been formed based on these texts, not the reverse. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two, instead of assuming you know better than all your teachers from the outset and trying to prove them wrong.

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    A tad direct, I think you are very right , but still you can remove the (abused) mention of confirmation bias, since OP is realizing that what they are finding is unsound, there is no confirmation yet, only the bias.
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 19, 2022 at 12:47
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    +1. Note that this doesn't mean accepting the literature -- you can still read the literature critically, identifying problems, gaps, and omissions in the published work. But engaging directly with the mainstream theory is better than just saying "I disagree" and justifying that position by looking for other scholars who also disagree.
    – cag51
    Apr 19, 2022 at 17:30
  • @N.I. (I still like your answer, this is just to better understand your point) Assuming I have read all the recommended books and articles mentioned by my professors in the next months, and I will probably have a better opinion, how exactly this address the confirmation bias I know I have?
    – Tet
    Apr 19, 2022 at 19:42
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I want to give a counter-point to what is shown in class, I have a hard time finding academic sources that aren't totally wack or associated with the far-right.

You are probably trying to confute some theory, simply by looking hard into "errors" of the theory. It is not the way science works. New idea replaces old ideas because new ideas explain some phenomena better (or correctly) than the old ones, but no one is going to fight ideas. Galileo didn't start to burn Ptolemaic books.

Let's take your "topic": surely Chomsky or whomever is going against some Adam Smith theory. Well, either you look for the original citation of Smith, follow the citation chain until you get to some recent academic work expanding on Smith work, or you look hard into contradicting Chomsky and you end up with far-right crap (similarly, if you try hard to contradict Smith and following works, you end up finding a lot of far-left crap misquoting Chomsky).

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