Your Source Matters (Or why I won’t take your link seriously)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve noticed a trend on my facebook lately. A lot of people, who I respect, are posting articles that may have a point but are from a non-credible source.

We all gloss over dozens of these sorts of articles, advertisements, or videos each day. Most of the time we either ignore them or think, “HA! I knew it!” Anytime I find myself doing the second I look into where the information is coming from.

Cartoon from Dave Granlund
Cartoon by Dave Granlund

Both Sides of the Argument dot ca

Let’s take a province-wide advertisement, going on right now in Ontario. It’s called Both Sides of the Argument. On the radio, it has people who say they’re police, nurses, etc. coming out against the proposed plain packaging laws for cigarettes (brown paper packaging for all cigarettes). At first hearing how plain packaging will help gangs and illegal cigarette sales, it’s kind of scary. At the end of the ads it’s said quickly that they were paid for by JTI-Macdonald Corp. A quick google will tell you they’re one of the worlds largest tobacco companies.

Instantly anything said by those ads and anything said by their website is suspect. Multinational, billion dollar companies rarely create ad campaigns to stop laws, unless it will affect their business.

Does this mean that what they are saying is wrong? No. They could be completely right, but since the source is biased, any information shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Extremist Sources

We’ve all come across that article that says that contrails are really mind controlling vapour, or that fluoride is put in the water to make us more passive.

You’ll find variations of these on both hyper conservative and hyper liberal news sources. Thrown in with articles about the vices of the poor from the first and the dangers of modern medicine for the second.

If you post an article from one of these sites, my first reaction is to check their sources and then to check their other articles. The quality of their articles and sources affect their credibility.

These sites are notorious for sourcing statistics but not the studies, or experts they mention in their articles. Usually because they either outright lie or manipulate their quotes into a lie.

Does this mean that what they are saying is wrong? No. They could be completely right but since the source is biased, any information shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Writing

This may be petty of me but if the writing is too informal, has too many mistakes, or isn’t organized in a logical order; I will not take it seriously.

(This is my blog. I’m a fiction author. I don’t write news and any articles I do write, you should think of critically. I am not a news source. I also don’t have a team of editors to make sure each post is properly written.)

I’ve come across so many articles that attack politicians and celebrities. If your article is mean or harsh, I’ll assume it’s biased. Some might call this “tone policing”, it’s not. It’s called Journalistic Objectivity, and without it the news source is unprofessional and unreliable. (Opinion articles are an exception, but they should be properly labelled.)

Does this mean that what they are saying is wrong? No. They could be completely right but since the source is biased, any information shouldn’t be taken seriously.

What should you do?

Before you post something, or share something, double check to make sure the source is trustworthy or in the very least add that you’re not sure about it’s validity. It’s really that simple.

You can even google the title of the article and see what pops up. Often someone will have a dissenting opinion and you can learn something about the original source.

As I’ve learnt, multiple times lately, calling out the integrity of an article will normally just piss off the person who posted it. Angry people will defend their point of view, even if the source is bad, to an excessive level. They’ll also assume you’re attacking them or the news itself as opposed to it’s source.

It’s up to you whether you’re willing to challenge a friend on something. They may thank you, or they may yell at you.

 

My philosophy is that if a source isn’t valid, the content isn’t valid.

Éric

4 thoughts on “Your Source Matters (Or why I won’t take your link seriously)

  1. You’re absolutely right. I don’t typically post things, for fear that the sources might not be objective. Often times I’ll avoid clicking the like button or refrain from commenting so that I remain objective.

    Unfortunately, FaceBook has become a cesspool of political speculation, negative commentary, or amusing memes. I look at FaceBook daily but only enter the fray when looking at the writing groups I’m part of and/or run. It’s easier that way… And if FaceBook has become the toxic spreader I believe it to be, then I’m not the only one. Two people that I know well, a best friend and my boyfriend, have closed their accounts because of the negative/unresearched crap people have posted. It does no good to complain about things without thinking about the positives to coincide OR to provide thoughts about a solution. Everyone has their perspectives, just the vast majority fail to look at all sides.

    Anyways, the place is no longer a site for connecting people, it’s a place that many people complain about small things. And as they say, wealthy people discuss ideas while others discuss people. People should consider what is being presented, especially when it comes to mainstream media. Their objective is to sell the populous of an idea, not to propose the facts.

    • Overall, I’ve still had a positive experience on Facebook and like to use it for fun or funny things.

      As for the mainstream media I have to disagree. Overall they are still trying to give news. It’s just important to make sure we keep them in check.

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