We’re all tempted to have others think for us because there are so many decisions to make daily, and it gets exhausting! The internet has exacerbated the problem. Making choices now is a lot like a crapshoot—you roll the dice, and hope for the best! The world we’ve created for ourselves has become a bit of a nightmare to navigate—just trying to learn the difference between a tweet and a hashtag still confuses me!
But this is what I see:
- Amazon thinks for me by providing a list of “recommendations” based on my previous purchases
- Online reviews help me to make my mind up
- We have a tendency favor of the opinions of others without thinking for ourselves
- Much of what crosses our digital screens (pop-ups, etc.) try to tell us what to think
The online culture assumes we’re passively waiting to be fed answers, and it’s a big trend in this age of instant information.How do we know what is true in an age of “mis-information,” and how can we do more of our own thinking? Here are some tips to help:
Politics: 1. PolitiFact (politifact.com); 2. FactCheck (factcheck.org)
Health: As a general rule, medical information websites sponsored by the U.S. government, not-for-profit health or medical organizations, and university medical centers are the most reliable.
Science: 1. Google Scholar; 2. CiteSeer
Money: 1. Kiplinger; 2. Consumer Reports
Let’s be real—it is difficult to know who to trust on the web or elsewhere. People make mistakes. Click To Tweet We need to try not act on the impulse to share something before we’ve at least checked it out.
Here are some ideas to help you think for yourself:
1. How far away is the information from its original source? Check things on the internet with other sites.
2. Don’t be quick to believe someone else’s opinion. Find out who paid for the information by looking at the bottom of sites pages; a sponsor usually is shown.
3. Remember people lie, so don’t trust what people say always. Is there any hype? Truth doesn’t need any hype attached to it.
4. Does the source of information have an intentional bias? Honestly, everyone is biased to some extent. Find sources that discuss both sides of the issue, and recognize partiality. Also, is this the majority view, or a minority?
5. Is the story too good to be true? Well, there isn’t any “free lunch” — just sayin.’
6. Does the source come from a celebrity? Why do people think these famous people are experts in everything? Come on people!
Watch how people conduct their lives and see if their words match up. Pay attention to the reliability of websites or blogs for the long haul—is their track record good? As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”1 John 3:18.