It’s time for a little education. Just because you see something on the news, hear it in a politician’s speech, find it on the Internet or even read it on my blog—that does not mean it’s true.
NPR messed it up, by way of an interviewee.
And the Internet—yikes, where to begin? From e-mail forwards, to uninformed blog entries, to out-of-context YouTube videos, there’s plenty to distrust.
The lesson is to have some healthy skepticism.
The Washington Post is likely to be more accurate than a random blog, but that doesn’t mean you can take everything as 100% fact (that’s why they print corrections). Do a little research and find another source or two that corroborates the fact in question. And especially in the case of politics, you might want to pay attention to where in the political spectrum your source lands (which can introduce plenty of bias).
Before you send that e-mail forward on to 10,000 of your closest friends, you might want to check Snopes.com. Because Barack Obama is not a Muslim, giant glaciers didn’t pop up off Mackinac Island in Michigan, and Ben Stein did not rant about removing God from the public square resulting in more tragedies. All e-mail forwards I’ve received, all debunked by Snopes (I won’t even get into the many more goofy forwards my wife has received).
Even if it’s something I blog about, I’m not perfect. I’ve been known to mess things up. You might want to verify what I said before you base your heated argument with your in-laws on my shoddy research.
So don’t believe everything you hear. Have some healthy skepticism, whether it’s a good friend or a newscaster. Rarely is anyone intentionally trying to deceive you, but we’re deceived nonetheless.