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(Don’t) Believe Everything You Read

20 February 2014

Sooooo… this picture popped up in my Facebook feed this morning:

20140220-104723.jpg

Now, while I’ve made no secret of my liberal leanings, and have voted for our current president, I’m not at all offended by this picture… though it did make me curious, because I remember paying a lot more than that before January 2009. (I don’t remember paying less since… I don’t know, high school?)

So a quick search of consumer reports from September 2007 showed me that gas prices were more than a dollar higher, on average, than they are in that picture.

This isn’t a post to pick on conservatives at all. They have gripes that are just as legitimate as mine about politics, gas prices, the weather, what have you. It’s more a post about finding facts, even truth, in the modern age. Is it possible?

In the 80s, I never doubted something was true if it was “on the news.” Now, I was also 12 when the 80s ended, so some of that was just me not understanding that agendas were a thing that existed. Generally, though, it seems as if “the news” was more about reporting the facts than it is today.

Now, if something is “on the news,” I’m very much less accepting of the truth of the story. With certain news outlets (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), it’s easy to determine agenda. To say, “oh, CNN is saying this because this is what their liberal viewership wants to hear,” or “Fox News has tailored this story to confirm what their conservative base wants to believe.” As I showed above with a quick web search on gas prices, it’s very easy to cherry-pick information to make something look how you want it to look, regardless of fact.

So where can we go to determine the truth of any story we hear? Most places will have their bias (which is kind of a funeral dirge for journalism), so we’re only getting part of the truth most places we look, if we’re getting any piece of it at all.

It begs the question: is there such a thing as “the truth,” anyway?

Have you found any reporting outlet that seems unbiased? Share with this jaded old man in the comments! (Or via email, which it seems quite a lot of you prefer.)

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