I remember a time

When most of the world was older than me

It seemed much of what I did

I was inexperienced in, it was all new to me

Now much of the world is younger than me

I know what I’m doing, and I’ve seen it all


Brokering Truth

Brokering Truth

With Russia’s intentional misinformation campaign through social media, and with news stations becoming mouthpieces for politics, it is now imperative for we, the people, to become intelligent consumers of truth.

These days, anyone, myself included, can post opinion, fact, falsity, or truth on the world wide web, on web pages, on social media—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram.  And readers can go to any site and read what’s on it.  And the credulous will believe anything they read.

I’m olding now, and things were different for a good portion of my adult life.  There was a time before the internet.  There was no Wikipedia, rather, there was the Encyclopedia Britannica; there were no web postings for information, rather, there were books.  There was considerable advantage with these old-fashioned methods of learning.  The articles in Encyclopedia Britannica were written by world authorities on the subjects in it.  The information that one would read in Encyclopedia Britannica was reliable.  Today, anyone can post on Wikipedia, expert or not, informed or not, opinionated or not, vicious or not.  When we needed deeper knowledge, we would need to read books and research.  In order to publish a book, the author needed to go through an editor, or a review process.  Academic books go through a committee of peers, or experts on the subject.  Not just any Joe can publish on university presses, so the information we would obtain was fairly reliable.  When we would discuss ideas or information, often the question, “What’s your source?” would be fired at us.

Now we need to consider the source more carefully than ever before.  The efforts of Russia are not only to spread misinformation in order to favor a given political candidate.  What Russia is trying to do is to destroy the notion of truth itself.  They want us to think that there are no facts out there, that no news is reliable, that all information is only opinion.  News stations are becoming vehicles for partisan politics.  Some networks are putting out lies, and obvious propaganda.  And they are calling it news, which it is not.

But there are facts.  There is truth.  It is now incumbent on we, the people, to care about truth and to sift through the mass of media to discover fact and truth.  We need to consider the source.  We need to be skeptical.

I grew up skeptical of everything.  I thought everyone was trying to sell me a bill of goods. This was a character flaw I needed to overcome.  But doubting until convinced is a good method to employ now when sifting through media.  The fact is, some media sources are indeed trying to sell us a bill of goods.

Skepticism can lead to sincere inquiry and the quest for truth, for fact.  The enemies of truth want us to give up, to believe that everything is opinion and that anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.  When it comes to black holes, the late Stephen Hawking knows more than me or my girlfriend.  When it comes to brokering information, the Encyclopedia Britannica is more reliable than Wikipedia.  When it comes to politics, an actual film of a politician speaking, including the US President, is more reliable than what Fox News, or any other broker of information says he says.  World stability may well depend on we, the people, arming ourselves with sound research techniques.  I’m going to turn religious now.  If we persist in skeptical searching for fact, for truth, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).