Fact-checking 101

In a world of “fake news” and “alternate facts,” how can we tell which voices to listen to?

There are many tests we can apply to sort out the messages we hear. We should look at evidence and corroborating material to see if we can discern what is true. We should consider the motivations and known biases of the speaker to figure out why the person is speaking. We should evaluate logic and look to see if what we are being told is consistent and reasonable. I suspect that if these principles were applied fairly and frequently, our society would be virtually unrecognizable!

There’s one more test that that the Bible offers us in Proverbs 12:18: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

We should look to see if the words that are spoken bring healing or needless hurt and violence. There’s another version of this test in Proverbs 10:14: “The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” Does this person’s word make the world a better place – or worse?

We must not make the fool’s mistake: “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives though to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) Be sure to evaluate what you hear. It isn’t necessarily true just because it’s on the television, or the newspaper, or the internet, or the pulpit, or…