There is SO MUCH INFORMATION coming at us these days. It is hard to know what is accurate, what is “sort of” close to the truth, and what is just plain wrong.
Whether you are passing along the information to friends or co-workers; your reputation as a trusted source of information or a rumor spreader is based upon the “information” that you share.
1. Is the Source Credible?
One question to ask yourself is: “Have you heard of the source?” If so; what is their reputation? Are they a news outlet (newspaper, magazine, television) with a reputation for providing a balanced perspective by presenting both sides of the story? Who do they use for their source of information? Who are their experts?
If the source has a history of leaning too far in one direction or another in their reporting; you can presume that some bias might exist in their version of events.
2. Be wary of the “game of telephone”
Ever play the game of telephone where a message is whispered in your ear, gets whispered around the circle, and when it gets to the end the message is nowhere close to what you started with?
This can happen with the dissemination of information, too. The further you are from the original source of information (the author of an article, a person who conducted research, an eye-witness), the more room for interpretation and personal opinion. Often the person re-counting the information may not be aware that their perspective tainted the accuracy of the facts.
3. Would you use the information in a research paper for school or work?
In years gone by, we could go to the library, look at the card catalog, and head to a source we felt confident would be fact-based and true. Some of you may remember those days; finding facts in an encyclopedia, a trusted article in a reputable periodical or newspaper, or going WAY back and looking at records and information on microfiche.
Today, with so much “information” at our fingertips 24-7, we have to dig a bit deeper to ensure we always seek the truth. Consider using reputable fact-checking sources, whether or not the information has been used in a professional or academic journal, and whether the information has been referenced by a respected expert.
As Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Now go share the Facts!
*Inspired by Avery Blank, Senior Contributor to Forbes.