While researching the next series of articles I’m reminded that one can not be too careful when you’re discovering new information.  Whether it be the mainstream press or something on the Internet, it’s critical to consider all sources of information as suspect until you have had time to properly vet them.

And sometimes it takes a long time to vet a source.

I suspect most rational thinking people realize the mainstream press is mostly filled with lies and half truths these days.  The recent Brian Williams revelation is merely the tip of the iceberg for the press.  That would not only explain why their ratings are plummeting but also why the alternate media is growing.  We the people want the truth.  We’re tired of being lied to.

The internet is another common source of lies.  Today more than ever before it’s absolutely necessary to question everything.  I see where many people love to reference wikipedia as a source of information.  While it is ever so tempting to do so wikipedia can serve as nothing more than a starting point for research, should you use it at all.  The reason being that anyone can edit anything on that site.  They do maintain copies of material before edits were made in case something needs to be corrected, however when the information can be openly edited by anyone, when there are no controls on credibility, it can only be a source to never take seriously.

This is NOT to suggest everything you find online is false, only that you need to use your own good sense and thoroughly vet the source.  The internet has made it possible to spread both truth and lies a lot faster and at little or no cost.

One immediate indicator you might be looking at questionable information is are there any sources referenced.  If not you must assume everything you’re reading is pure conjecture or opinion.  If there are sources, follow them and see where they lead.  Is the source the actual origin of the information, or does it source another?  If this is the origin what is presented in the way of proof of their information?

Another question to ask is could this source somehow be benefiting from making this information available?  Does it swing business or financial gain their way to convince others of what they are saying?  Does it increase their standing or give them power or leverage in a situation?  What else have they said and how reliable has that proven over time?

One very insidious tactic I’ve also come across is the most difficult to vet.  That is the disinformation artist.  This source will provide vast amounts of good, reliable information that leads you to drop your guard.  Then here comes the falsehoods after gaining your trust.  This can be very difficult to spot.  At other times it’s almost so obvious it’s embarrassing.  Just be aware this is very prevalent.  It’s almost always from someone who has quite a lot to gain from spreading falsehoods.  Such as a government.

Sadly, even modern versions of dictionaries are to be questioned.  The definitions of words have changed, and not always for the better but rather to serve an intended purpose.  I try to source the oldest versions in reference books I can find against the newer versions.  Fortunately the original 1828 publication of the Noah Webster American Dictionary can be found online to make this a bit easier.

You can see how simply sourcing and validating information can lead down numerous rabbit holes and take a great deal of time.

I utilize many different sources when doing research.  I generally try to compare several sources on the same topic if possible.  And never forget to use the printed word.  There’s a vast wealth of knowledge and history in books that should not be overlooked.  And always, whenever possible, go to the origin, the original source of the information.

One of my sources, a popular night time radio talk show host, presents a great amount of good and solid information.  However at times I have noted what I consider to be either short sighted opinions or an intentional avoidance of controversial topics.  Is this disinformation?  I doubt it.  Yet due to this host’s own wealth and position I believe they don’t always completely connect.  I also believe they avoid some topics that seriously need to be discussed possibly due to a fear of being labeled a conspiracy theorist and losing their standing.  Even the best intentions can be thwarted by the sense of self preservation.  This goes to show that no one tells the whole truth all of the time, be it unintentional or otherwise.

One of my favorite sayings is “consider the source”.  That often times is the only answer you need when the question is “Why?”.  Now, back to vetting.

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