“You shouldn’t eat ______. It’s bad for you.”
“Don’t take that medicine. Take this supplement instead.”
“Global warming is a hoax made up by a bunch of socialists.”
“Don’t vote for _____. Don’t you know they did ______?!”
It feels like we’ve been hearing a lot of these kind of comments recently doesn’t it? To some degree it’s nothing new, but they’ve kinda been piling up in my mind. There’s something that has begun to bother me about these types of overarching statements, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is.
It’s not that I disagree with some of them. When someone suggests eating a salad instead of a greasy hamburger, it’s hard to argue. But others are not so clear cut.
For instance, someone being treated for cancer. The number of conflicting insistent suggestions to be sorted through is unreal. They can’t all be right, since so many run counter to each other. So how do you know the truth?
It used to be that we respected professionals in our community. If the doctor told you to do something, we trusted that he knew what was best, and his 10+ year of school and experience working in the medical field made him qualified to give you the right information. We trusted news organizations to tell us what was going on in our communities and around the world. We believed that our leaders wanted what was best for our country and everyone in it.
These days, anyone with an internet connection has the ability to become a self-proclaimed expert on whatever they please. Websites dedicated to “alternative” points of view gets million of hits a day…. feeding the fears that we always had deep down. The doctor DOESN’T know best, the news ISN’T telling you the whole truth, and our leaders DON’T have our best interest at heart.
The thing is, there are elements of truth to all of these. Doctors are as human as we are. They are fallible. They can be wrong. They can be corrupted. They can make mistakes. News organizations are slanted. Flip between Fox News, CBC and MSNBC and you’ll wonder if they’re even covering the same planet. Politicians fail us every day. Scandals. Broken promises. Cover-ups.
In the 1970’s high-fructose corn syrup was introduced to the public as a healthy alternative to sugar. It’s made from corn! It’s natural! Then it’s time passed, and it was considered bad for you. Drink diet, it has no calories! Oh wait, aspartame is bad for you. Ok, now splenda is the way to go. Oh, now it’s stevia.
Again - probably some truth embedded in all this craziness. But how we separate the facts from the hype?
How do we decide what to believe?
This is what has been bugging me. In a world where an opinions are painted as facts, and can be spread around the world with a tweet, how do we sift through all this stuff? It’s EXHAUSTING. Does anyone else feel this?
My rule of thumb has become to live simply and make common sense decisions. Exercise. Eat modest portions with as much raw fruits and vegetables as possible. I’m debating wether or not to cancel cable, I’m sure it’ll be tough at first but I’ll find other things to consume my time. I’m Canadian, so I can’t vote anyways in the upcoming presidential elections anyways. I try to focus on my life and being a good thing in the lives of those around me. I help people and hope to reach people’s hearts and souls more than their intellect.
This is all well and good, but what about those that feel called to a health-related job, or a newsmedia position, or public office? How do THEY sort out the truth?
Because the fact is, sometimes we can’t know the facts for sure.
For instance….. There’s a debate about vaccines among a lot of new parents I know. There’s been a rumor that vaccinating your children may increase their likelihood to become autistic. From what I understand, it’s been scientifically debunked, but those that believe it aren’t willing to take the risk. They either don’t believe that these scientists really know the truth, or don’t believe that they’ll tell it. I’m not sure I can blame them. These are their children, and nobody wants to put their children in harms way.
But these moms and dads can’t possibly do the research themselves, so they have to listen to someone. There are websites and articles telling them this and that. They have friends saying “so and so vaccinated their kid, and now he’s autistic.”. They’re bombarded with contradicting information, with no REAL way to know for sure. That’s maddening.
This is not a blog post with an answer. I don’t KNOW how to sort this stuff out sometimes.
So. How do you know?