Truth

2019-03-28I love the internet.

I hate the internet.

And… I remember the days before the internet. Do you? You know, when information was relatively difficult to find and we used to toddle off to the library to look things up.

Now, I’m not saying that those were better days, and buying a knitting pattern certainly took much longer, but there were benefits. First, information in books tended, whilst biased by the author’s opinions/agenda, not to be enormously swayed by the demands of advertisers. And, second, some degree of filtering happened before a book was published – acceptance by a publisher and subsequent editing, for example. I know that there was still plenty of misinformation, not to mention downright lies, but we were exposed to less of it because all information (true or false) was harder to access.

Now, we are bombarded by information and it can be overwhelming. How often do we look for something and get a million or more hits from our internet search, so only look at the first couple of suggested sites? How often do we see some figures on social media and think that they must be correct because they are quoted by a friend or a “trusted” source? Apart from anything else, what I consider to be a trustworthy source may not be the same as what you think is a trustworthy source.

However, the fact that we can access all this vast store of information is marvellous because, unlike in days gone by, we can follow up on it, we can check it, we can examine sources, we can find out more about the view of the author or publisher and, therefore, we have the opportunity to be more discerning than ever before. But often, we don’t… because it takes time, or because the information that we see supports our existing view of the world or makes us feel good. I know that I am much more likely to fact-check something that I disagree with or that makes me uncomfortable than something that confirms my existing opinion.

I am not someone who clicks the “share” button very often on my social media accounts and, you may have noticed, that here on the blog I try to research my information-sharing posts thoroughly and provide links to the sources. I generally don’t entirely believe the attention-grabbing headline statistics I see, but recently I find myself becoming more and more cynical and wondering what agenda is being served by the numbers and “facts” that appear before me. So, I’ve started looking a bit more closely – even at the numbers I like. I recently came across a useful fact checking charity called Full Fact, which seems to be impartial and I have used Snopes for many years. What I’d really like, though, is for people to check before they post. We are all responsible for “fake news” if we keep spreading it around.

So… are you a sharer or a cynic? Do you have a preferred fact-checking website? Do you reference the information that you put on your blog?

 

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13 Comments

  1. I am extremely careful with what I share. Has to be from a reputable source. I realize that no place or publication are free from errors, but they at least must have a commitment to the facts, as we know them. Again, our knowledge changes over time, and the publications I read honor this, too. All in all, for me, the Internet has given more than it has taken. It has opened my small, small world—I seldom range more than ten or fifteen miles from my house—to the larger world. Thanks to my many blogging friends, I am reading about spring in England and fall in New Zealand. So…

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    • Sadly, some of our previously reputable sources have rather lost their way… the BBC is no longer that it was and I rarely look at their news website now because they have become so biased. Mind you, I regularly discover new sources of information that come up clean when checked.

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      • Sorry about the BBC. Oddly enough, the election of Trump has made some of our mainstream media—The Times, The Post, The LA Times—ever more committed to facts and the truth. Trump has stiffened their spines, thus proving it’s an ill wind that blows no good. Naturally, he calls these publications “fake news” because they call him out on his lies and do their best to provide factual information. The general public has noticed, and subscription rates have soared.

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  2. It’s certainly a mixed blessing but I can’t imagine life without it now.

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  3. Ann Pole

     /  March 28, 2019

    Ditto everything you have said. I’m happy to share funny things, and a few other bits, but generally I don’t. If it is, for example, a missing person then I will check the latest status on that person. If it is news about a mutual collegue or friend (for example one of our friends died in November, I wouldn’t share that) If it is too good to be true then it usually is, and so forth. But even I occasionally get it wrong, but once corrected I will amend what I have done.

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  4. I hardly ever share on social media and my blog is my own story, opinions or observations and very obviously so therefore no need to fact check. When I am looking for information I try to check several sites – if they all say pretty much the same thing I am happy to believe them. But I still get most of the information I need from books and prefer it that way.

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  5. chrissiefizz48

     /  March 28, 2019

    It’s a mixed blessing but I wouldn’t want to be without it!

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  6. And so it is! The best bit of advice I ever got was to ‘follow the money trail’. For example who, or what, benefits from this particular news item? Who is running the show? Politically it seems to be nowadays which way do you lean – perhaps it always was and we have to pick a direction, left or right. Medical advances where the testing is carried out on the latest miracle drug by the pharmaceutical company that is producing it is common and has always been suspect in my mind. Thanks to the internet it is now easier to find out when that is so. Facebook has fallen into the ‘leave now or lose your soul’ category for me. A blogging friend tried to share my post called ‘Our Black Friday’ on FB, it was immediately pulled by them saying it contained objectionable content. The next day they published an article by a right wing group accusing Jacinda Ardern of being pro -Islamic and intent on flooding the country with muslim immigrants and stripping white new zealanders of their jobs and livelihood and general freedoms. So a pack of lies can stand, but a personal response to a white terrorist’s actions can’t. It’s a fraught world and demands of us that we fact check – excellent post Jan!

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  7. I don’t have any social media accounts except my blog and all I share there is my own opinion. Occasionally, I’ll be outraged by something in current affairs and do a blog about it, but before I hit ‘publish’ I’ll have read everything I can on the subject. I like the accessibility of information, the ease of looking things up in these days when libraries here no longer hold vast reference sections. I do remember the days before the internet, and how hard it was to find out information about prospective employers, their financial status, policies, mission statement and employee roll. For me, the internet is less a social media resource than a giant Encyclopaedia Britannica!

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  8. I can remember the first email I ever sent! I’m glad to have it now. As for social media, my blog gets references when it’s not just my tale being told and I’m on Twitter, but very careful there. I love all the information availability. It does mean you have to check on things rather than just be credulous. Recently, I’ve asked more than one person to share data on something they’ve declared (“I’d like to see the numbers on that.”) and sometimes I get it, but you do have to dig a bit–just like you used to go to the library…

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  9. I do agree with you on all counts. I keep FB to connect with other writers and I have a separate page for family. I would never expose my good writing/blogging friends to most of my crazy family. I spend little time there because they have not checked their facts. Snoops if a good place to start but I also trust my intuition as to whether I’m being lied to about something. It’s always on target if I pay attention. We are in quite the pickle here in the U.S. and not sure anything can or will be done about it so I stay quietly observant. My opinion matters to no other than myself. I read Pauline’s comment and was quite distressed with FB. I’m glad I spend little time there. Don’t fully trust them either. Let’s hope we start to value truth above all else sometime soon again. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. Sharing is a difficult one, I try not to share if it says something along the lines of ‘ share if you care’ or “only those who believe in mental health will share” (no person who understands mental health would ever write this). I might share if it doesn’t ask me or others to share in any way. Sometimes I share motivational statements because I like what they have said.. but this has often got me in trouble because people presume I’m going through something rather than just liking the sentiment. I am guilty of sharing information to raise awareness of certain illnesses because some very rich people have made millions out of a paper that wouldn’t even pass a degree dissertation based on its statistical analysis, and now that very bad piece of research funded by the government is used by the NHS as a guide on how to treat people with that group of illnesses and used as a guide by dwp. the paper is so wrong and so obviously manipulated its laughable ( or criminal). So yes I guess I’m guilty, but I do try to filter.

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