Monday, August 1, 2011

What's Your Source of Information?

Thanks to a couple tough research professors in college, I quickly learned one must be thoughtful, intentional and careful of one's resources when presenting statements. Do I have this skill mastered you ask? Absolutely not! But I would like to be better.

Questions like the following must be asked, in order to identify whether the information is accurate and trustworthy:
  • Who wrote this piece? Do they have the experience and background to make them credible? 
  • Who published this piece? Are they respected in their field of expertise? 
  • Where does the author's facts come from? 
  • Is the information presented objectively? 
  • Do several sources reflect the same facts? (If so, this gives credibility and confirmation.) 
  • Is it clear on what the author is saying? 
  • What is the slant of the person presenting the information? 
  • and have I looked at opposing arguments to balance my perspective? 
I'm sure some of you more skilled at research than I, can think of a few more pertinent questions to consider. But I bring this conversation up as a painful reminder to myself - and a fellow citizen challenge to you. When we present our information, have we done our research, are we confident in our source and how do we know it is true?

If we handle truth accurately, we would regard it in the same way our grandparents and great grandparents treated it: our word is our bond. So before I go tell my family that the world is about to end, or a riot is coming to the streets of Michigan or John Smith is going to run for President, I must be certain I have my facts straight.

This challenge applies to both liberals, conservatives, libertarians, non-party, citizen, leader, me! And to be honest I'm still working on it, in a big way.

But in this day and age, out of any generation since time, we have easy access to endless information at our finger tips. We therefore have no excuse for not knowing our sources, researching both sides of the story or at least being willing to correction.

After all, the validity of our research, resources and information will define the narrative we create (in word or writing), could sway others opinions and in the end change the world. We better be asking the right questions!