Thinking CIA


Her work does not allow her nor does her schedule allow her to spend time on social media during the day. She gets time late in the day – well after 6:00 pm to finally see what friends and family are up to and what the latest news, trend, and happenings are. That is why when we settled down for the evening, and she began reading, Amy came across an article that we both found interesting.

The article was about the science of nutrition. The authors were dealing with the amount of information we see about what is and is not healthy for us. They reminded us that science is always asking questions and that somethings once thought true are no longer true. For an example, there was a time when physicians encouraged people to smoke tobacco for health reasons. We know better now. There was a time when scientists thought spoiler meat turned into maggots, then someone realized that flies were laying eggs in spoiling meat. Their point was that just because the science of nutrition once said something does not mean that it is true and that just because an article is on social media about nutrition and weight loss does not mean it is reliable. The authors said we need to think FIRST (First is an acronym).

Funding: Who paid for the article or research. Did the study on the health benefits of chocolate have funding from Nestle, Hershey, or Dove? If so, there may be a bias?

Investigation: How did the researches go about their investigation. Do your own investigating. Are there studies that contradict these results? What are others experts saying about it?

Results: What are the results of the study? How were they tabulated?

Subjects: Who were the subjects of the investigation? Was the group limited in number, gender, age, geography, or in some other way? A good study group is varied in many ways and a large sample (a lot of subjects) is important to establish good results. A study of three people, all named Cleo, living in Podunk, Tx is not a good sample.

Time: How long did the study last? Days, months, years, decades? Has the study been repeated over time with the same results?

As I thought about this idea of thinking FIRST for nutrition articles, I realized that this approach is good for anything I read on social media. Anything about politics, the weather, education, crime, police brutality, or any news report. Think FIRST: Who Funded or sponsored the article? Does the sponsorship or funding provide a bias? When I Investigate, do I find competing information? Was the author of the article balanced in their investigation? Are the Results reported fairly or are they limited toward a certain agenda? Who are the Subjects of the poll or who is being reported about? What does the Timing of the article or post say? When was the article first published?

The more I thought about it the more I wondered about how we approach scripture. Can I apply this Think FIRST to scripture? I know I should apply it to religious articles and news, but I could not see this applying to the Bible, so I came up with my own. And since I love a good spy novel, movie, or show I came up with Thinking CIA.

Context: What is the context of this passage of scripture I am reading? Who was the original audience or recipient? What genre of literature is this passage? Is it narrative? Is it law? Is it prophecy, or is it poetry? Each occurs in scripture and each needs to be understood from the genre it is.

Intent: Why was this passage written? Why did the author say what they said? It this meant as a directive? Is that directive specific to the original audience alone? Is this a rule that they intended to be passed down through generations? Does this passage contain a theological principle?

Application: How does this content apply to me? What moral or lesson do I learn for my life? How can I live this passage? Is there a spiritual principle to follow or a precedent not to be ignored?

Luke says of the Bereans that they were more noble minded than the Thessalonicans because they searched the scriptures daily to ensure what they were being taught by Paul was true (Acts 17:11). The Bereans through CIA.

– Scott

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