Alienating Friends Through Correcting Misinformation

Snopes is your friend. Even if you cannot remember the site, searching for a sentence of a text probably will pull up a hoax clarification site.

Facebook is the new chainletter forwarding medium. The share button allows people to very easily and simply pass along anything. Often this is before they do anything to verify the information. Before anyone I know who reads this comments, I have been guilty of it too. I like to think it rarely happens.

Almost as long as I have been online, I have fought back against this kind of misinformation. When I see factual claims, I try and verify them. My GoogleFu is strong because of researching things I read or hear to confirm, deny, or better understand. If claims were false, then I left a comment. Initially I wrote in my own words detailed explanations on why something was in error. Then as I got lazier, I quoted places like Snopes who probably wrote better explanations anyway and linked back to the source.

These days at my laziest, I just post a link to the source.

Usually, I received a comment back in thanks. Sometimes it hurt feelings for me to have sent these comments. People have even stopped talking to me over getting a comment. The interesting ones involve me being called a liar or mean. So I pull back for a while and try not to hurt feelings. Eventually, I will resume responding.

Something I really should remember is people love their biases and these shares are part of solidifying them. I probably ignore the things with which I agree. By trying to correct them, I am fighting against cognitive dissonance and am not going to win.


Relative Truth

Found an interesting comment on an article the state of Georgia observing the Confederate Memorial Day….

The truth of history means very little to those who are dead set against learning anything from it. No matter what the history books used in our public school system say, most will never believe anything other than their own opinion about the Civil War. History revisionist are the celebs of the day. As long as people like Rev. Wright, and David Duke exist, history’s truth will be filtered through lies and distortions. Few observe Confederate Memorial Day: UGA to display original constitution; state offices closed

Truth may very well be completely relative. Back during the US Presidential election, I ran across an interesting article in the Washington Post discussing research John Bullock did about the effects of misinformation and idealogical bias ties. I used to think it had to do with a handful of people stuck in their green, second ammendment, pro-life, pro-choice, capitalist, regulation views. My favorite pasttime in college was assuming positions contrary to others even when I agree with the others.

I doubt the effect solely affects conservatives as was proposed in the article. More likely everyone has some blindspots in determing truth from myth or fiction kind of like optical illusions. (Yes, even myself.) We have to choose which information to believe any time we interact with information. Much of the rules in philosophy and science are built around combatting the biases we have.

Rather than force ideas on others, I think we should be teaching children from an early age to recognize when others and most especially themselves are operating under a bias. Its the only way to find detachment.