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Separating Fact, Fiction, and Our Bias

More than ever in 2017, we’re inundated with stories of alternative facts, fake news, and how to decipher what you’re reading as truth, an exaggeration, or at its worst, an outright lie. The Type-A in me is triumphant, after years of yelling at my computer screen when Facebook friends share a false post without questioning it first (can you tell its a major pet peeve?) Unfortunately, while some of the obvious fake news makes me crazy, it’s getting more and more difficult to determine which is what.

In her latest blog post titled Separating Facts From Fairy Tales, Betty-Ann Heggie stated something that made me raise an eyebrow, and then let out a sigh as I realized that she was speaking something entirely true.

We live each day according to our stories about who we are, what we do, the people we support and where we spend our money. It is natural that we see and believe information that supports our beliefs and ignore that which does not.

– Betty- Ann Heggie

Think about that. We all have the story of us. Past experiences, the way we were raised, the way we choose to raise our children, all the things that make us who we are – that define us. We naturally then, find stories and situations that speak to us and support those stories and share those facts. But what happens when we hear an alternative fact (and not the POTUS kind either), a fact that presents something outside what we believe to be true, or right, or correct.

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Do we investigate it? Determine if it’s really true, making our previous belief perhaps untrue? Or do we simply ignore? What a shame to ignore learning something new, an alternative idea or philosophy, because we are so satisfied that our own beliefs are the right ones. As Betty-Ann points out, “There will always be a news source that helps us find alternative facts that align with our beliefs.”

I encourage you, and remind myself, to remember this the next time you’re scrolling through social media and a friend posts their truth, what they believe to be a fact. If it’s something your beliefs naturally align with, perhaps dig deeper and ensure that what you’re reading is truth rather than blindly clicking ‘share’ to further spread the message. If it’s something you definitely don’t agree with, again – read further. See why the friend is sharing the information, and decide for yourself if it’s fact or fiction.

At that point you need to determine with your new found knowledge. Have you learned something new that you can appreciate even if you don’t agree with it? Or have you read something so blatantly false that correcting your friend can’t happen fast enough. Careful with the second idea. I have learned that at best, we can educate ourselves and work to better those we have influence on like our children and our immediate social circle. The best thing you can do for the rest, is simply not share in the false facts, and hope they come around. You never know, maybe someone hopes the same for you on a different topic!

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We’re encouraging you to step up and be aware the next time you see a fact that makes you scratch your head. Has it happened recently? Tell us about it and you’ll be entered to win $100 PayPal to celebrate your savvy sleuthing.

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  • A friend sent me a FB video where a lady with a very unfortunate skin condition was calling doctors liars. The information she was professing was a half truth and the reality was much more complex than the video proposed. Sad that people believe things simply from a video.

  • Oh facebook is good for that, always see false posts and some of them I wonder if they are true, so many about deaths of actors-which mostly as a hoax, my son always tells me if its true or not, then laughs at me, I see lots of my friends sending me false posts all the time and they do get a big annoyed when I tell them they are a hoax

  • Well, with today’s ‘leaders’ I question a lot of what I am hearing. Very false information being delivered and I wish people would learn to research and educate themselves before forming opinions. I’ve learned to be comfortable with saying, “I really don’t know about that issue yet”.

  • I always try to check out facts when on social media if its something that I think might be true. There are so many posts that are randomly passed around that arent true. I dont usually pass around posts.

    We used to play a game called gossip at school someone would tell someone something and see what it would turn into when it reached the end..Just because someone says something doesnt make it true or writes it on their wall or passes it around on social media.

  • I enjoy American politics but have on several occasions had to verify stories through 4-5 sources before being sure of the facts they were presenting. When someone shares something with me or wants to discuss I have to speak honestly I don’t know how I feel about that yet or share with me what you’re reading. Then I can take the time to properly determine my own opinion. Many times that investigation has stretched my thinking and made me change my mind from what I initially thought my opinion was.

  • On facebook I get a lot of sponsored posts that come through my feed that have such an enticing title they make you click on them to read the story. Sometimes the story is blown out of proportion and you question whether something like that could actually happen or was it just something to get your attention to click on it to get more views.

  • Lately I have come across lots of articles online that I am not sure if they are true or false news. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference and to find out the source. Tricky to separate fact from fiction sometimes!

  • Those silly weight loss ads promoting pills drive me nuts. I remember years ago watching the infomercial and debating on whether or not it’s legit or not. I never bought into anything but today I definitely don’t waste my time watching stuff like that anymore.

  • The entire time throughout the US election. There were so many stories that were absolutely false. I couldn’t understand why people believed them.

  • Yes, I find that issue more and more. If it’s a big news item, I always wait for the CBC to report as they tend to do fact checking.

  • I wonder about some of the comments that have been coming out about Trump.
    there is a story going around that he has a red button on his desk that says bring me a Coke.
    weird but true?

  • I question pretty much everything I read on the internet, wondering whether it is fact or fiction! Recently my husband read a study on mental health and about how many are diagnosed with various issues to push “Big Pharma”. Very controversial and still leaves me wondering!

  • Every single time I read a news story I question it. It’s too hard to know what’s real and what’s not and you rarely get the whole story now either way.

  • I try to be mindful about what i share especially anything political as people get really crazy over it. I would just rather share inspirational or fun stories on my feed and not pay any mind to the rest!

  • Lately I have been reading a lot of news that has been false facts, especially with the US president and what he’s been doing. It’s so hard to distinguish what’s real or what’s not now a days with the internet and social media.

  • I have learned to always question everything. I look at the source and the evidence to support the info. Even so, with hot topics it’s easy to react first and question second. I am guilty too, only to realize that a recent post was satire for entertainment purposes and meant to incite a strong reaction. If something is truly outrageous, it likely is false or exaggerated or manipulated.

  • Whenever I find myself getting upset “how could that happen?!?” I now always take the time to just do a quick internet search. It’s so easy to look things up now.

  • All the time I read things and don’t really know if it is fact or fiction. I end out out of curiously searching for the truth. Don’t always find it.

  • I hear a lot of conflicting opinions on current events, like the BLM movement, and do my best to look into the issues.

  • You definitely see a lot of information these days that you have to question – I often question information regarding “natural” remedies for health issues, so much out there when you search that you have to wonder what it really true and what is not. A little scary because you don’t want to try something that might hurt you.

  • There is so much fake news and facts out there now with social media and I am often times reading things and having to check multiple sources to see if it’s true

  • This happens to me everyday! I always read something online whether it’s about something that’s bad for you or easy ways to lose weight, etc. and I never know whether to believe it or not.

  • I read and watch the news often,and honestly it’s hard to spot fact most times.Everything seems so questionable these days !

  • As a member of a Volunteer Ground Search & Rescue group who frequents Facebook – I often see folks re-posting about a missing person. So I then check all resources online to ensure they are indeed missing. More often then not the person was located or it was determined to be a hoax for whatever reason.

  • Someone recently shared with me, “Always say yes to your children and save the no’s for the things you’re really serious about.”
    That sounds really nice on the surface, but in real life that doesn’t work if you have small children. They’d eat icecream for breakfast and run outside in the snow in bare feet. They would never wash their hands and go to bed at midnight. Those are not vital, moral questions, but they are part of life. I didn’t respond as it wasn’t worth arguing about.

  • I question alot of facts now with the influx of Social media everywhere , also companies trying to sell you every thing

  • I often question what I read on the internet. I was reading an article once and I was thinking, that can’t be true. I kept reading and it was one of those fake news page. Why do they even have those.

  • Recently at work I was asked to confirm a rumor regarding a renovation. It was completely false. It was a joke said in a meeting and it was taken seriously and the employees honestly were asking why we would propose such a stupid idea. I was shocked when I heard it and when I asked for verification I was shaking my head how the rumor spread so fast.

  • During the American elections I saw so many posts about both candidates that I just knew had to be false news. I noticed the one lady was called out on one of the posts and told it was not right information. The person telling her this even showed it on Snopes as being false. She then claimed Snopes was not a reputable website to check on. People like this have ideas in their heads that can’t be changed no matter what proof you provide.

  • I’ve read countless articles on the web, Facebook feeds, and in e-mails that I’ve received from friends with instructions to send them to everyone you know. I questioned whether or not they’re true, so check them out on Snopes and found most of them were listed there as false. I’ve also seen posts on Facebook from friends and family lately stating that their Facebook account was hacked and if we receive requests from them to become their friend again, to ignore it.

  • There is a lot of false information on social media. it is important to check the facts and do your research before passing on information that may be false. I have many times re-shared posts that turned out to be false, lesson learned.

  • These days there is so much news on the different social media sites. I’m always questioning if it is fact or fiction.

  • There are a lot of of posting Facebook about something happened and they didn’t even get an like on the post that are mostly faust that people put on all the time . They really bother me.

  • I am in a position where i have to discuss vaccines and those families who refuse to accept them, often based on false reports or nebulous research. This presents a real ethical challenge.

  • Happens almost daily on Facebook and the sad thing is that people don’t research for themselves to see if it has any truth to it..perfect example..such and such (famous person) died today..happens all the time.

  • I’m a skeptic by nature…lol…So I question everything I read. I find there is so much fear being put out that I refuse to be pulled in…

  • Some stories on the web are so far-fetched that I question its validity. But some are so well-written I have believed it to be true. Nonetheless I have learned I can’t always believe what I read on the web.

  • I feel like reading the yahoo and msn headlines everyday is a maze of truth and fiction… we need to always question things these days!!!

  • I am so gullible I always believe false facts. Then I realize who the source is and question it.

  • I’m very much like you and question a lot of stuff posted. The best I caught was my friend posting about the giant squid. LOL I use snopes.com a lot for urban myth checking.

  • Room is a 2010 novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue When I read this book as well as watched the movie it was so well written that I had to check to see if it was based off of a true story!

  • My husband and I were totally convinced that The Blair Witch Project was real when it first came out. We actually argued with people who tried to tell us it was just set up to look like real footage. How embarrassing! Nowadays, I see fake news every single day on facebook.

  • I think it has been a while since I have read what I have thought to be false truths but if I am ever suspicious of whatnImhave read I do ,my research and compare to other news agents.

  • I often have to judge between fact and fiction while I am browsing the internet. There are many articles online which claim to have the solution for better skin, healthier hair, a healthy diet… Often times I need to verify the validity of these claims before I test anything on myself.

  • When the controversy surrounding the recent film “A Dog’s Purpose” came out, I first jumped to the conclusion the animal had been abused & believed the false facts of the story. The media gets us so riled up sometimes. But after some investigating on my part I then gathered all the real facts & was then able to make a conclusion based on truth, not media hype.

  • Goodness so many things nowadays you have to question, especially things that get posted and reposted on facebook. I have found snopes.com to be a very valuable website to uncover the truth behind many stories floating around out there

  • I remember when people were just started out in social media and people were sharing articles. I remember reading one where a celebrity died and I actually believed it! Now I double check my sources.

  • I believed my 17yr old son when he said he was ONLY having “Safe SEX” until my beautiful granddaughter come along!

  • Yesterday I read that there was a sighting of a cougar in my neighborough, yet this is Southern Ontario and we do not have any cougars. So I’m still not sure if I believe it’s true or not, but I’m a bit worried and am keeping my eye out when kids are playing outside and when I let our dog out

  • I have a relative who stays on twitter all day, finding “alt” posts to retweet, or post on FB. It drives me crazy b/c I have a vulnerable sister who eats it up. They come from sites that often sound like ones you’ve heard of like politico, there is RT, and others. I tend to look around and often read reuters for plain facts.

  • I always fall for the false claims of actors/actress passing away and finding out after I share a post that it was all a lie, sad!

  • It happens almost every day for me on instagram when people post beautiful or strange photos. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell if something has been photoshopped!

  • I’ve learned to question whatever I read in mainstream media. The sponsors control what is allowed through so I always assume it’s not fully correct.

  • I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook that I questioned whether they were true or not. There is a great website Snopes.com with a wealth of information about the validity of facts about various topics. I use that site to filter out the true and the false.

  • Alot of the time I read article posts on Facebook and question if it’s real because how bizzard it sounds

  • most things on fb are false i think.. i have clicked on intersting articles (based upon their title) and find when i read the article it is all #@#@

  • Last time I believed something that wasn’t true was when someone said that a planet will be so close to the earth and even included a picture how it will look. I almost believed it, then went to look it up (google is good for that). They said someone brings it up every year

  • I’ve always been pretty good at making certain I have the real facts after being spoofed many years ago.

  • I think a person should really check on the facts of a news story and try and hear both sides to fully understand what really happened. One person’s view can be totally different from another person. Some of the comments made by people on the internet are only their views and not fact so a person needs to use their own common sense to sort fiction from fact.

  • I think everything we read online should be questioned, especially articles with little or no source information.

  • Social media is inundated with false information for memes- I try to do a fact check and check snopes but sometimes you forgot to. It’s important to question everything.

  • I tend to believe the “This celebrity is dead” headlines and then check them out before forwarding.

  • I saw a video recently of a man questioned to be possessed, walking into the ER bent backwards, after being shot in the head. Crazy eh? The situation was real but I suspect it to be serious drugs. I read many theories after being shocked into curiosity. I don’t look for horrific videos like this, but I couldn’t look away. I was even a little spooked.

  • When I hear or read a news related story I tend to wonder whether it is true. It’s hard to know what’s fact or fiction most of the time!

  • Definitely in the earlier days of Facebook I believed alot of things and “facts” people posted. These days I am much better at spotting the fake!

  • I have several friends on facebook that post a bunch of false info because they believe everything they read. I have linked them to snopes and a few other hoax busting sites but it doesn’t help.

  • The last potentially misleading headline I read was something along the lines of “life discovered on Mars”. And of course when I clicked through, it was a story about POTENTIAL life on Mars. There are a lot of junkie/clickbait sites out there. Caveat emptor.

tenille-lafontaine

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