I remember pedaling my shiny blue bike with its banana seat (think a looooong narrow seat which I thought was very cool at the time), up my neighbourhood street, and through the little shopping centre gate. Then up the long hill, I panted as I pedaled and just when I started to feel the sweat run down my back, I’d arrive at my palace.
Aka the community library.
It was a stuffy little beige building, tucked away in a cramped corner beside the outdoor swimming pool. But to me it was a palace.
As I walked in the door, the air was cool and quiet. I’d run my fingers over the books until something beckoned. Then I’d pull the book from its shelf and tuck myself up in a corner and read to my heart’s delight.
And if I got stuck, if I couldn’t find what I was looking for or I had a question, I could always ask the librarian, ‘cause they knew e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Today is a far different story. While we have zillions of ‘facts’ at our fingertips, they’re not always true and often, they can be downright mean and malicious.
When you combine false information with our tendency for confirmation bias – where we look for proof to support our beliefs and disregard contradictory information – we’re in trouble.
So what’s a human to do?
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Be constantly curious. “Curiosity has its own reason for existence,” said Einstein.
“Curiosity is an act of vulnerability and courage,” says Brene Brown. “Choosing curiosity and connection rather than walking away or shutting down, while painful, is choosing courage.”
Amp up your curiosity and its bedfellow critical thinking.
Don’t let your brain be spoonfed false beliefs. Stay alert. Stay critical.
Use the very tools that dispense zillions of ‘facts’ to us every day for your own benefit. For example use Snopes, which bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”
As the Washington Post says, democracy dies in darkness.
Which is presumably why they created truth teller.
Truth Teller is a way to fact check what politicians say, as they say it. When you watch a Truth Teller video on PostTV, you’ll see a transcript rolling next to it. When Truth Teller spots a false claim that we’ve reported on, a visual clue and a link to a full fact-check will appear. This is where you get the full story of what was just said, as provided by our Fact Checker blog, run by Glenn Kessler, as well as from Politifact and FactCheck.org.
So stay alert, be curious, be critical and harness technology for good.
Then go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Watch this guy and his fake facts, provoking others into hilarious responses.
- Start a tough conversation; be brave, be curious.