BrainWise®: Antidote for Fake News – Part II

Benjamin Franklin - “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Benjamin Franklin – “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

No one would associate fake news and untruths with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and other leaders of the American Revolution, but history sheds a different light.  Dr. Robert Parkinson, a professor of American history at Binghamton University in New York, found documentation in personal diaries, and the Congressional Library, that proves otherwise. He reports that John Adams, his cousin Sam, and other Boston patriots planted fake stories about the British designed to undermine King George. They were aided by the governor of New Jersey who fabricated a number of stories, also published in colony newspapers, that accused the king of sending thousands of soldiers to kill Americans.

Benjamin Franklin added to the fray by making up a gruesome story about American soldiers discovering bags containing 700 scalps of boys, girls, infants, and soldiers allegedly taken by Indians in cahoots with the British.  To support his story, Franklin wrote a fake letter purportedly written by a real war hero that urged the colonies to declare independence because of the murders.  He printed the story in a fake issue of a mock-up of a real Boston newspaper. He sent copies to his colleagues as real news, and they published the story in their papers.  Later, he wrote a friend about the power of what he had done – “By press, we can speak to nations.”

BrainWise CPR worksheets, and BrainWise Checklists help guide discussions of such situations, as students use the 10 Wise Ways to assess and analyze the lizard brain actions that that drive behaviors.  For examples, the PBS New Hour’s educator editor has posted a lesson plan on fake news that includes incendiary stories related to the election.  Inserting BrainWise questions into it would help students use critical thinking skills to analyze the problems not only from their point of view, but from the point of view of others.


It is a privilege to keep in touch with BrainWise instructors, and I would like to mention two who have been longtime program champions:

Dr Li and Dr Pat

Dr Li and Dr Pat

Xiaolaing Li, M.D., translated the BrainWise curriculum to Mandarin in 2005 and trains educators in Kunming and Hong Kong.  When she retired from Kunming Medical College, she started Pioneer in Health, a nonprofit organization serving youth.  She enjoys the newsletter, and sends her love.

Melanee Stevens

Melanee Stevens

Melanee Stevens attended a BrainWise training in Seward, Alaska in 2006.  She taught BrainWise to Alaska Native youth and families before moving to Washington State where she continues to teach BrainWise to youth.  She placed a new order, and added her name on the newsletter list.

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