Every year, elections are held for all sorts of positions. Depending upon how old you are, you may either be voting for student council representatives or the President of the United States.

Before elections are held, the people running for office — called candidates — will usually try to inform voters about their positions and why it would be a good idea to vote for them. You may hear these efforts referred to as political campaigns.

For local, state and national elections, political campaigns may use advertisements to promote their candidates’ views. These advertisements may appear in newspapers, on the radio or on television.

In addition to promoting a particular candidate, political advertisements may also make claims about the other candidates seeking the same position. These types of advertisements are often called negative advertisements, because their messages are against a particular candidate or issue rather than being for a particular candidate or issue.

Obviously, campaign advertisements are meant to persuade you to vote in a certain way. Advertisements often make interesting claims, and they may use statistics that sound impressive to sway you.

Statistics in advertisements are basically numbers used to support a particular claim. For example, an advertisement might include a claim that 90% of the population supports a particular idea.

But should you believe everything you hear? Not necessarily! Remember: advertisements of any kind, whether political or simply a commercial for breakfast cereal, are intended to persuade you to take action. That action can be to believe something, vote for someone or buy something.

When you realize that advertisements seek to persuade, you understand that you have to dig deeper to evaluate what is being said. Is it true or false? Do the claims made have any basis in fact? Are the statistics used accurate?

Some people find statistics very persuasive. After all, they’re based on numbers and actual data, right? How could they lie?

Statistics, though, are only reliable if the data used and the way they were created were fair and representative of the group of people they’re being applied to. Let’s look at a few examples.

If you wanted to know what sport is the most popular at your school, how would you find out that information? Would you ask only boys or only girls? You might be able to ask all boys and learn that 90% of the boys you asked said soccer. But would that truly represent the whole school? Nope!

Likewise, if you wanted to know how the public as a whole feels about a certain issue, should you ask only members of one particular political party? Of course not, because that would not be a representative sample of the whole public. But sometimes advertisers will confine their samples to achieve statistics that seem to say what they want them to say.

So be cautious! Don’t believe everything you hear just because it’s in the newspaper, on the radio or on television. Do your own research and test what you hear to find out what’s true and what’s false!

 

50 Join the Discussion

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  1. Tomorrow’s wonder is about horses!
    Oh, please do horses I haven’t seen a horse video.
    I really LOVE horses but If I don’t get horses tomorrow……….I’ll be dull
    (I don’t boss you to do it, but I just wanted you to say yes.)

    • Hey there, Shundee! Thanks for sharing your opinion about whether we should believe everything we hear! We hope you have a GREAT day! :-)

  2. No, you should not because you don’t know if it is true or not it might just be a rumor.. so NOOOOOO you shouldn’t believe everything you hear… cause it might not be true……!!!!!!!!!

    • That’s right, Sydney! We appreciate your comment and your opinion…THANKS for sharing them with us today! :-)

    • We like that guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, Halei! Thanks for leaving us a comment today and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • We think that’s a GREAT guess, Rahul! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow morning to see if your guess is correct! :-)

    • Even though you can’t vote in national elections yet, m0nk3y11111111, you can still make your voice heard with your vote! You can vote for class representatives and/or officers! The next time your school has an election, find out what each of the candidates think about things that concern you or that you are interested in changing. Then, cast your vote for YOUR candidate of choice! :-)

    • Happy Thursday, Nicholas! Thanks for sharing your AWESOME comment with us today! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know your idea for a future Wonder of the Day®, Megan! We really like hearing the SUPER things our Wonder Friends (like YOU!) WONDER about! :-)

    • Way to go, Gloria! We’re proud of you for waiting until you have all the facts and doing your own research before you make a decision about what to believe! :-)

    • Hello, Guy! Thanks for sharing your opinion about believing everything you hear! We appreciate your thoughts on the subject! :-)

    • We’re happy to hear that you will consider the source and make up your own mind about things you hear now, McKenzie! It’s AWESOME to learn new things in Wonderopolis, isn’t it? :-)

      To make the smiley faces, you put a colon, a small dash and an ending parenthesis together without any spaces. So, : + – + ) = :-) !

    • It makes us super happy to hear that you think Wonderopolis is a place to learn cool stuff, Brandon! Thanks for being a SUPER, FANTASTIC, AWESOME, WONDERful Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We’re getting some other comments from Wonder Friends who, like you, think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about some sort of tree, Annie! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis in the morning to find out if we will all be WONDERing about TREES! :-)

    • We think it would be GREAT if everyone was honest, too, Amos! Thanks so much for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

    • We think that sounds like a WONDERful guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! It would be super fun to learn about bonsai trees…we can’t wait to see if your guess is correct! Thank you for WONDERing with us today and for leaving us another awesome comment! :-)

    • Hello, Faith! Thanks so much for sharing what you think about believing everything you hear! We think you’re a GREAT Wonder Friend and we hope you have a WONDERful rest of the day! :-)

    • Hi, Cody! Thanks so much for sharing your great thoughts about not believing everything you hear (or see!)! We’re super glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We appreciate you letting us know you thought this Wonder of the Day® was cool, buglover! We also think it’s AWESOME that you explored several Wonders today and left us a comment on each one…THANK YOU! :-)

    • Hello, John! Thanks for letting us know what you thought about the video for this Wonder! We appreciate hearing from you! :-)

  3. I like the wonder of the day. but….that’s a lot, a lot of text to read. maybe break the text up into…image then a text box. (one idea) and so on.
    the video will need some processing for young (or younger) students but is otherwise good.

    I know some school district IT departments block your content. It is not wonderopolis itself but rather where that video or link comes from. I know, had to find another wonder of the day to show. So maybe links and articles from kid-safe sites? or more reliable ones? just suggestions.

    Keep on! :^)

    • Thanks for the AWESOME feedback about your experience visiting Wonderopolis today, Peter! We really appreciate all the great suggestions you made for how to make our Wonders of the Day a bit more “Wonder Friend-friendly” for visitors of all ages! We hope you have a SUPER day! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your advice on believing everything you hear, Wonder Man! We think you are a SUPER Wonder Friend and we’re really glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Should you believe everything you hear?
  • Can statistics be deceiving?
  • How can you know what is true and what is false?

Wonder Gallery

I Voted sticker_shutterstock_12307672Vimeo Video

Try It Out

So now that you know that you shouldn’t necessarily take everything you hear at face value, how can you know what to believe? When you’re not sure whether or not to believe something in particular, what should you do?

Here are some tips that can help you determine whether something is true or someone is just trying to pull your leg:

  • Consider the source. Where did the information come from? Would the source of the information have a reason to present a biased (one-sided) view of things? Or is the source objective (takes all sides into account)?
  • Do your research. If there are specific facts at issue, research them for yourself. Just be careful about what sources you use to check your facts. The Internet can be a good place to start, but you have to be careful. Not all Internet sources are reliable. In today’s fast-paced Internet world, it is very easy for just about anyone to publish just about anything on the Internet. Don’t rely upon a single source, but instead seek out multiple sources from different perspectives to make sure you have an objective view of things.
  • Ask your parents. They might not know everything, but parents hold a lot of information in those noggins of theirs. They’ll usually be more than willing to help you sort out any confusion you may be having with things you’ve heard.

 

Still Wondering

Check out EDSITEment!’s Electing America’s President resource collection to explore resources relating to American presidents, including information about First Families, campaigns and elections.

As we become more immersed in the campaign season, it’s good to remind ourselves and teach our children to be careful consumers of information. Join this Thinkfinity discussion and share ideas for helping children learn this valuable lifelong lesson.

 

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