Thursday, March 3, 2016

What I’ve Learned In My Life So Far

I’ve learned that you should...

Edgar Allan Poe (The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether)

It always drove my kids batty when I asked questions like "where did you hear that?", "who/what is your source?", "why are you so convinced it's the truth?", "did you do any independent research to verify the information/dates/numbers/statistics?", "have you checked different sources for other opinions/perspectives/thoughts/facts?", "why do you simply believe what he/she said without verifying it?" and so on when they shared a news story or when we debated a topic or when they parroted something someone told them. I wasn't trying to frustrate them; I was trying to teach them to think for themselves, to open up their minds, to question what they hear and to be fully informed (of their own doing) before coming to a conclusion about any social/political/historical/economic/environmental/etc issue.

Because "the neighbour/teacher/uncle/reporter/pastor/boss/politician said", "the newspaper wrote", "my friends think/believe/insist", "I saw it on TV", "there was this YouTube video", "it was posted on Facebook", "people are tweeting", "this story has gone viral", "everyone is saying" sometimes leads to misconceptions, untruths, faulty information and mob mentality.

So I do what I've tried to teach my kids to do: check and research for myself before coming to a conclusion. And before repeating it!

Because just because someone says it is so doesn't make it so.

How about you? Do you believe what you're told or do you verify the information?

29 comments:

  1. I'm often a sceptic or at least, believe in something only provisionally until further proof comes along.

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    1. Proof is always a good thing. I prefer to have that before I commit.

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  2. I try to verify, as we all know don't believe what you read on the internet that's how World War I got started.

    My mother's boyfriend hates Hillary Clinton, and when I told him I'd vote for her if Bernie doesn't get the nomination, he told me she personally killed everyone in the Benghazi attacks by telling reinforcements to "stand down".

    I told him about all the attacks on diplomats during the Bush and Reagan years (which were more numerous and severe than Obama's), but he marked it as irrelevant. I then showed him a link to snopes.com which debunked every one of his claims as false. He didn't believe snopes saying he knows that he heard "some general" say it was Clinton's fault, but couldn't remember the general's name nor could provide the proof of him saying it.

    "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." -Adolf Hitler

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    1. Some people refuse to let go even when solid proof is presented to them. Because if it doesn't agree with their views, it can't be true. And if you persist, they dismiss it, get upset, sometimes even aggressive.

      That quote is bang on. The bigger the lie, the more believable. And if you repeat it enough times people will start to believe it.

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  3. Because of my work, I do need to verify terms to make sure they are correct, so that kind of goes into my off work life too. Always better to verify things before saying something, hard to retract statements sometimes so better to go with the facts up front :)

    betty

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    1. I agree, Betty. It's always better to verify something just to be sure.

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  4. It is a bit of both Martha, I can be gullible but eventually I figure things out. You are smart.

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    1. I think I'm like this too Christine. I'll believe something at first, but then I go home and think about it and the inconsistencies start to become obvious.

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    2. We all have moments like that, Christine. We like to see the good in people, the world.

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    3. I'm guessing that your instincts kick in, Natalie, and you start to see/feel something is not quite right.

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  5. I have a pretty strong "that smells fishy" meter, especially when it comes to politics and social media. I have a few news sources that are my go-to, and if it's something that I need verification for, I seek multiple sources. Some of that comes from my years as a newspaper reporter. :-)

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  6. No. My granny quoted this all the time. I did not know the source. Thanks for that.

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  7. Wise advice. My friend Aunt Esther (1900-2009) used to quote that adage frequently. I do my best to check facts too. There is so much misinformation around.

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    1. There is, Bethany, especially in this digital age, which is both good and bad. Bad because there's too much misinformation, good because there are so many sources to help with research.

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  8. I like your approach. More people should employ it instead of just willy nilly repeating things as fact. I'm guilty as charged sometimes but I do try to investigate important matters.

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    1. I've always enjoyed doing research about things but I got much more into it after I was in a relationship with a prize winning bullshitter/manipulator. :)

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  9. long ago i used to believe whatever i been told or saw as by nature i myself is very simple person who try to be positive and curate with everything and i used to look at everything with the same attitude that if i am thinking this way or i mean it what i think it is so everyone is just like me but gradually time changed my way of thinking know i know that world consists millions of people with completely different attitude and there are so many timely emotions and facts can be involved behind one single sentence or conversation so now i don't believe whatever i listen or see my mind automatically try to figure out reasons behind it and may be it is coincident or what that mostly things are likely i think they are

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    1. I think we become more like that as we get older. Sometimes we are quite naive when we're young. Or rather, innocent.

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  10. I often think, "consider the source", as well when hearing news, whether it be on t.v. or from an individual. Sometimes you have to cut through the drama and the hype. -Jenn

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    1. You got it, Jenn! Cut through the drama...and at times, the bullshit :)

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  11. Good question.....I am really skeptical about everything I hear, initially. Depending on the source, the topic, how much I may already know, I am a 'doubting Thomas' from the gitgo!! Always have been. Now, from where did I learn this? My parents, who were far worse than than I am.

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    1. Nothing wrong with that, Jim. It's good to make sure what you hear/see is factual. Misinformation, especially in a heated moment, can lead to mob mentality, which can become quite volatile and dangerous.

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  12. Like you, I taught my children to question everything. They in turn have taught their children the same so I am continuously answering my grandchildrens' questions. One of the ways it backfired though was that I taught the kids not to believe what they see on television or movies. We haven't been able to watch any movie or show all the way through since my oldest was about 4. The kids always called out the fake stuff and told us how something was done, or how it was wrong and why it would never work! We had to sneak movies into the bedroom if we wanted to just watch without editorials!

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    1. HAHAHA! This made me laugh. Yes, it can turn on you. But at least all the kids aren't sheep following the crowd. They are independent thinkers.

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  13. Very, very true and excellent lesson.

    Just last night at Barnes I was reading another health book on the body and sickness and it amazed me how the doctor/writer, cherry-picked his research.

    Look at everything and think for ourselves. But look at the whole picture, not just cherry-picked bits and bobs.

    Happy Weekend. No labs for me today. I don't think ...

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    1. And you have to be able to accept that sometimes the true answer does not align with what you'd like/want/need it to be. I think a lot of people have trouble with that and prefer to live in denial than deal with the truth!

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  14. These days, I generally don't believe anything unless it comes from the horses mouth.

    You can't trust other people and the info they relay. It's like in my family, it's a constant game of Chinese Whispers because they never actually listen to what they're told and then relay something completely different.

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