Once upon a time newspaper and network television news editors required that their reporters confirm stories with three independent sources and had research departments and archives check facts. Today satellite TV “news” networks and the internet make information available to all of us 24 hours a day but it’s up to us to filter, prioritize and scrutinize all that information.
Alas, too many of us prefer not to take the time, effort and research (not to mention critical thinking skills) to vet much of the information which comes across our screens.
- There’s the relative that shares how they’re outlawing the national anthem at pro sporting events. No, not so much. The Pentagon just got told they can’t spend so on PR spectacles meant to boost recruitment.
- There’s the neighbor who wants you to re-post a picture of actors dressed as Vietnam soldiers- mistakenly thinking it’s a real shot from the late 60’s rather than a studio promo from a action-comedy a few years ago. Someone was testing to see how many rubes they could trick. Hate to tell ya this but…
- Students who say that another teacher told them that the President is making it illegal to recite the pledge of allegiance in school, but it turns out it was a fake-news article from a satirical news site. If you’d read the whole thing, you might’ve noticed those quotes attributed to dolphins with lewd names.
- Or the friend who posts that the Vice President says that the economy is bad because women are lazy. Seriously? Um… turns out no.
Forget about whether anyone is a secret Muslim, raising our taxes, or coming to take away our guns. All of these stories have been debunked. All of these stories fuel groundless speculation and incite division, resentment and prejudice.
Here’s thing thing folks, as New York Senator and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
So believe what you want. Vote your conscience. Belong and associate with which whatever party or organizations that you will. Support whichever candidates you think are most likely to represent your principles or interests, but please, for the love of Pete- PLEASE check things out before you share them. Don’t perpetuate tripe or propaganda. Look things up.
Here are a few websites that can help you do it: