Is it true or not? That’s a question that pops in my mind most every time I read some article. Today we live in an age where there are so many venues for communication, and much of the social media has no accountability. Can you believe it or not? Sometimes bogus reports on social media achieve more credibility than the main stream media. We tend to believe it. How do you know?
Is it true or is it not? With the explosive growth of an “alternative information ecosystem,” we have witnessed fringe views that have gone main stream, and truth becomes whatever a person chooses to believe. There are a lot of “information and conspiracy” theories that abound. You can even find “proof” of many of the foolish notions on hundreds of websites, blogs, newsletters, etc. For example, a bogus video, erroneous chart, a phony story, “passed on from one person to another on Facebook,” seems to have more credibility than legitimate attempts to correct the record. What is truth? How do you know?
This year Facebook has also tried to put a “Disputed” stamp on certain stories to help fight misinformation on its website. But it takes time for a story to receive the disputed tag, which means it could take several days before a patently false story gets tagged. By that time, it has already been circulated and believed by many. Robert Mason is a University of Washington professor who is studying the false information that is publicly reported. He sums up our present situation by saying, “If you say it loud enough or long enough, people will believe it.”
How much can we trust commercial outlets? This year, a Federal Appeals Court declared a class action law suit accusing a boutique grocery chain of overcharging customers by “systematically and routinely” overstating the weights of prepackaged foods. You were not getting what you were paying for. Some news outlets started referring to the grocery chain as “Not Whole Foods.”
I love eating a good Subway sandwich. We witnessed a class action law suit to force Subway to admit that some of its “foot-long” sandwiches were actually 11 inches long. They now have to measure sandwiches to ensure they are at least 12 inches!
In November 1914, Financial Times ran an article about how successful the British were at selling war bonds and funding WWI. A correction was just issued, 103 years later, after examining original documents at the Bank of England. They discovered that the attempt to sell war bonds was actually a “spectacular failure.” They surmised that part of the reason the article was “fake news” was that the real news might hand Germany a propaganda victory, so the Bank of England secretly funneled money to close that gap. The Financial Times is now “happy to make clear that none of the 1914 news item was true.”
The Bible is very clear about telling the truth. Proverbs 12:13-14 says, “Lies will get any man into trouble, but honesty is its own defense. Telling the truth gives a man great satisfaction.” Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truth stands the test of time. Lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 25:18 says, “Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with an ax or wounding him with a sword, or shooting him with a sharp arrow.”
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). He also said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Always speak truth. Henry David Thoreau said, “Truth hurts, but then heals, while falsehood soothes, but destroys.”
Truth is a lousy club – but a great sword! (Read Hebrews 4:12)