Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How do we recognize truth?

Once we've seen something in writing, whether its source is attributed as just a vague organization or a name with a title is cited, we tend to believe it must be factual. Even documentation with no attribution gains credibility with repetition and widespread distribution.

In an era when corporations with an agenda – or any of their myriad lobbying arms – can produce thick white papers that prove their position, every piece of information should be suspect. But the opposite is true: when someone in an official capacity presents intuitively questionable conclusions, we've been taught to believe the expert over our own instinctive wonder.

In these open source days of Wikipedia, it's not easy to keep from being duped. We can look up authoritative sources respected by online users (as confirmed by voluminous links counted by Google!), but we really have no way of knowing who came up with the data or how or what interpretation slanted the presentation.

Every sentence has a bias. Every writer has both an opinion and an agenda. And each of us, depending on our foundational point of view, reads truth – one way or the other – into every word.
I wonder... what you think.

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