In the November issue of the Costco Connection magazine, there was an article by John McManus, a communication professor and longtime journalist. He is also the author of Don’t Be Fooled: A Citizen’s Guide to News and Information.
When faced with information claiming to be factual, consider:
- The source. Who is behind the message? Is the source independent (free of conflicts of interest)? Is the source an expert or experienced in relation to the topic?
- The motivation. Is it really informational or is it an attempt to sell something, someone, or a point of view? Many “persuaders” cherry-pick information to make their case, omitting relevant contrary information.
- The evidence. Does the information come from direct observation? Does it logically support the claims that are being made? Does it include/magnify heart-tugging anecdotes to make it more compelling?
- The contents. Is anything left out? Are inconvenient truths missing?
It doesn’t matter what your persuasion. Don’t believe everything you read or hear just because it validates your personal beliefs. Do the research. Learn the facts before you repeat the information. This is especially true when it comes to religion and/or politics.
Keep in mind that the “truth” is not always as it seems.