My Bad Facts Are Better Than Yours

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

I frequently hear people on social media talk about fake news and information. They'll say something like, "Don't be sheeple. Don't believe everything you read. Do your own research."

That's where the free advice ends. The problem with this advice is that it does not offer suggestions as to how to conduct this research. They'll only offer plenty of suggestions of where to conduct your research. So, if you are someone who firmly believes that all widgets should be red, you will offer advice in the hopes that others will come to believe that all widgets are red. You will say something like, "Don't believe the lies! Widgets should not be yellow! Do your own research. Click this link and find out the truth! www . thetruth . com / WidgetsAreRed.

That's not encouraging people to do their own research; it's only encouraging them to believe your claim that all widgets are red.

When it comes to trying impartially to find out if all widgets should be red or not, the process can be painful. The Internet is so full of information and much of it sounds authoritative. For example, if you want to prove that humanity had descended from aliens millions of years ago, the Internet has all the resources you need to accomplish this. Many satirists and conspiracy theorists have already created effective websites to back up your so-called truth claim. They have collected compelling imagery, expert advice from renowned archaeologists, and many studies performed to leave even the doubters wondering if it might actually be true.

Since all this information is difficult to scrutinize, what does that mean when you're told to conduct your own research? Should people stop being sheep and instead become ostriches? I spent a number of years trying to bury my head in the sand as to what mattered in this world only because I couldn't trust the source of most people's information.

In the spirit of the Internet, I will also now offer you some advice:

  • Read exhaustively.

  • Draw few conclusions.

  • Ask many questions.

  • Offer few answers.

  • Listen to differing opinions.

I realize the irony in offering you this advice. Hey, don't take my word for it. Do your own research.

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