Misinformation: Will We Simply Accept The Information We’re Given?
Has the ability to upload, and receive information made us lazy? Are we more prone to readily accept information presented to us simply because it's there, and additionally, because it aligns perfectly with our biases and beliefs? To answer this question, let's turn to a recent viral post that caught my attention.
The post makes mention of how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was found by a jury in 1999 as having been assassinated in a government plot. The settlement, the post claims, was never reported on because, "the people who own the media are against freedom." Are they? Because this archive file from The New York Times, dated December 9 1999, is an extremely informative and professional representation of that same information.
Less than 30 seconds into searching the optimized data-mining program known only to the utmost professional journalists as "Google," (we'll give you a minute to look up what that possibly could be) I was able to find an archived New York Times article from 1999. What's more disturbing than the author's blatant disregard for fact checking in the name of defacing an entire organization of people, is the readiness to accept the information by the commenters.
Another post, just to make another strong example, includes a quote from President John F. Kennedy. Supposedly, seven days before he was to be assassinated, he said (to no one in particular), "There is a plot in this country to enslave every man, woman, and child. Before I leave this high and noble office, I intend to expose this plot."
Setting aside the fact that whoever was quoted never came forward to anyone with this information, that there are no publications in the last 50 years that even begin to mention he said anything of the like, let's examine the time frame. If Kennedy had an entire week between the time of his untimely, gruesome, and public murder, don't you think he would've told someone? Anyone? Even if he did by some stretch of the imagination, why in 50 years we can find no source or citation?
Posts like these and others destroy the integrity of information sharing. Constantly, we're reminded of how we shouldn't take things at face value, and how just because a quote is next to someone's picture, doesn't necessarily mean that it was said. However, take into account that what's being said is in a serious light, and correlates with a belief, a bias, or a point of view, and some might find it difficult not just to accept the information. We want to believe it's true, so we do, regardless of the strong evidence proving it false.
If you want to be part of a more informed public, armed with knowledge, and ready to take action against the real issues, than act like it. Get on the web and do your research, especially when something seems almost too good (or, I suppose bad) to be true. It may upset you to find out that you, and whoever presented the information was wrong, but it's better than just ignoring hard facts and living a fantasy because it aligns with how you see the world. If we allow ourselves to blindly share information like this, and let it run wild across the internet and social media, we inadvertently create the very thing we were trying to destroy; a less informed, devolved collective of smug, self-importance who would rather believe exciting lies than attempt to find real truth. The difference is a few minutes of your time. What's truth worth to you?