We’ve had this chat before, folks. Sometimes I make oblique political references as I make the point I’m about to repeat; sometimes I just throw it up there as a friendly reminder. Today, I’d like to have your full attention because the more I think about it, this one issue is at the root of so much of what’s going on around us these days.
I’m begging you: don’t believe everything you read or hear without doing some fact checking if the point being made is important to you. Here’s another example of why.
You might have heard that a Vancouver Canuck named Rick Rypien died a few weeks ago. Among other things, Rypien is supposed to have suffered from depression. The Toronto Star wrote a piece which contained a quote from the club’s GM calling Rick “crazy.” As it turns out, well, we’ll let the Star’s public editor explain it:
“This was a rookie’s mistake,” wrote public editor Kathy English, “but one I know even experienced journalists at other news organizations have made in recent years: The intern reporter assigned near deadline to write about Rypien (23-year-old Michael Woods) found the false information attributed to the Vancouver Sun on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. He failed to properly verify its accuracy. Had he done so, he would have discovered that the Gillis quote was bogus.
That’s from The Globe and Mail piece on this. The point is obvious: it’s great that the internet is open but it contains an awful lot of bogus information. When even professional organizations are sloppy, how careful do you think most blogs and other sources are? We make a lot of decisions – little ones like what movie to see and big ones like which candidate to support based on reviews which might be fake (more on this tomorrow) or “facts” that might be made up by someone with a vested interest.
Please: before you take ANYTHING as gospel, do some research. It’s not hard to check things out and when all that you can find attributes back to a single source, be very skeptical. The fact that someone said it doesn’t make it a fact. Ask questions, demand answers, listen carefully, and judge yourself. And verify everything – even me!