As someone who spends half of my day writing, it should come as no surprise that many of the remaining hours are dedicated to research… so I spend a lot of time on the Google machine.
When citing market trends or supporting facts, I always make it a point to find multiple sources. In many cases, however, one could read dozens of articles that make a similar claim – only to find out that everyone has based their story on the same 2003 study out of an Indiana junior college. And when you go download the original 67-page study, you see that its authors included dozens of caveats that never made it into the news.
Apparently, as journalism has migrated from a once-a-day print edition to an endless stream of digital posts, there is no time, budget or desire for fact-checking.
Perhaps I am guilty as well. Often I am telling a story to drive interest in a specific technology or raise awareness about a specific business problem – and when I go online looking for source material, I am usually looking for a fact or tidbit that supports a pre-conceived notion. Given the vastness of the Internet – 230 million Website, another 100 million+ blogs and trillions of pages – you can ALWAYS find someone who can support ANY point of view.
And when you read that opinion that matches your preconceived notion, a light bulb goes off. What a great idea! This guy is a genius! I need to share this article with everyone! Quick, post this link on Facebook!
It’s so easy to find someone who agrees with you—no matter how crazy you are—that there is really no reason to investigate the facts anymore. Or consider an opposing viewpoint. Or question our pre-conieved notions.
After all, if so-and-so writes X and he’s a genius – that makes me pretty smart for agreeing with him. Instant validation!
So here’s my promise for today. Before posting any links to my blog or Facebook page, I will take a moment to consider what Rotary calls the four-way test. Of the things we thing, say or so:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Given the standards of most Internet stories, doesn’t sound like I will be posting many links anymore..