GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - 31
Seeking the truth in a world full of misinformation
BY JUDITH AND BOB WRIGHT
very day we're surrounded by talking heads, 24-hour news
cycles, and a barrage of headlines. We're told one story by a
news channel, a different version from our neighbor, and yet
another from a magazine.
At the end of the day, discerning the truth in today's world is
tough. It's becoming increasingly difficult to separate data and
facts from opinions, and even more challenging to have open and
honest conversations with our families, our neighbors, and our
friends about what we believe to be true.
So how do we find the truth? How can we reach a place of
mutual understanding with friends and family?
Fact vs. opinion: Discovering the
truth in self-examination
There are three distinctions to make when it comes to information: data, facts, and opinions.
We collect information constantly throughout our daily lives.
Some of it is data, but we often have no idea if it is fact, opinion, or a diversion that is out and out deception. Whether we are
reading the news, talking to other people, or just casually observing the world as we go about our normal activities, data come to
us for examination.
Data can be true, false, or partial (or even made up, as has
become common), leading to fact checking in credible news
sources, and data also can be accurate but used in deceptive
ways. Through testing and proof, we can discern the accurate
and legitimate data to reach our own conclusions - our opinions.
Then, only by testing our conclusions and opinions, can we learn
and grow and develop an increasing knowledge base.
Bob has a friend with a Ph.D. in economics from, arguably, the
world's top school of economics. In debates of substance with his
JANUARY FEBRUARY 2019
friend, Bob has eaten a great deal of crow as his opinions have
withered in the light of facts. But make no mistake, Bob's friend
met rigorous standards of proof requiring textbooks and other
documentation before Bob capitulated.
It's a fact that rocks fall when dropped-that's gravity.
It's a fact that gasoline emits carbon dioxide gas when it's
burned - that's combustion.
Discovering the truth means assessing data and funneling
it into buckets-is this
absolutely true? Probably
true? Probably not true?
Absolutely false? Discerning
the truth is an important life
skill. Yet, it's not always a skill
that we all choose to hone
and grow as Bob exemplifies
with his friend.
What many people are
fighting about, whether it's
climate change or politics,
is their opinion of either the
cause or the solution of a
situation. We're not necessarily fighting about facts or
trying to accumulate more
data (perspectives, attitudes,
values) to test or to question
our own points. We're not
discovering the truth, we're
really fighting about our
opinions and are frustrated
by trying to convince others that our opinions are an absolute
Even at an older age, many of us haven't fully learned to think
like an adult (see reference below)-to think critically. But critical
thinking is necessary for discovering the truth. It means challenging our own assumptions,
questioning our beliefs, and
examining our ideas to the
Continued on next page
GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019
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GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - Contents
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