June 24th, 2024

The public needs to take on the role of independent fact-checker


By Lethbridge Herald on February 11, 2023.

Editor:

In the past two weeks new reports about the pandemic became confusing. On the one hand, the Fraser Institute report concludes that the actions taken to combat the COVID pandemic were hugely harmful to our country.

 On the other hand, The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) concludes that it was the circulation of COVID misinformation that was a huge contributor to the harm this country experienced. 

Both organizations cite data from experts. Who do we believe? 

What is the ‘truth’? We are living in a post-truth era. It is a time when objective facts are less important than appeals to emotion and personal belief in shaping public opinion. Data spin is vitally important in controlling the narrative the public hears. Hence, the story determines what facts are important. And perception overshadows much truth facts may suggest. 

Perhaps when in doubt, we should pay heed to the old maxim ’follow the money’ to sort out the biases and lies. Does $50 million in federal government funding to the Council of Canadian Academies buy more truth than $6 million in private corporation donations to the Fraser Institute?

Certainly $50 million seems to have bought more media time than $6 million! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could look to the CBC and the fifth estate to sort out this question through investigative reporting?

Oh wait! Follow the money. Is $600 million in government funding to mainstream media likely to buy an unbiased report? Additionally, the media is fond of hiding behind the adage “don’t shoot the messenger.”

But in a post-truth era where the media actively competes for the story that sells the most profitable “truth,” one should never trust the messenger! It is more important than ever that we the public spend more time as independent fact checkers!

Richard Dietrich

Medicine Hat

Share this story:

12
-11
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
buckwheat

An excellent encapsulation of the dilemma of the modern world. 24/7 info/bs available in 10 seconds clicks. Few read to the end of the story. Most are one or two click ponies, click Global, CTV, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, watch the View for their daily dose of whatever you wish to call it. The issue is, there is no middle ground. Hence being a fact checker requires searching various “sides” of an issue and finding he middle ground yourself. That is, if you can take your face out the phone, tik tok, Instagram, snap chat and the rest. You and I can

grinandbearit

it really does seem that with such an amazing amount of disinformation in on-line sources, in “mainstream” media, and streaming media, the current situation is hopeless. The idea that a large majority of individual members of the current public can decide on the relative credibility of reports from the Fraser Institute (“Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families, and future generations by studying, measuring, and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship, and choice on their well-being.”https://www.fraserinstitute.org/about) vs the Council of Canadian Academie (“The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) convenes the best experts in their respective fields to assess the evidence on complex scientific topics of public interest to inform decision-making in Canada.”https://cca-reports.ca/) is clearly wrong. As things are, individuals simply cannot recognize the difference between the sound, evidence-based activities of expertise in a field of knowledge and a group of white-coated pseudo-experts warning in a Youtube video about the lethality of mRNA vaccines activated by 5G networks to thin the population. In the absence of an educated population who have learned sound, critical-thinking, appropriate skepticism until valid evidence is accumulated, who can recognize expertise from pseudo-expertise, we will simply perpetuate the sink-holes of misinformation and deceit that characterizes current public discourse.
Education in becoming a careful, discerning evaluator of information is absolutely essential if we are to get out of the current dismal situation where media celebrities induce millions to believe that public health measures or 15-min cities or climate change are part of a global conspiracy to enslave and cull the human population.
Finally the idea that truth lies in some middle ground between positions, is an obvious fallacy. Often one position is simply wrong.

Last edited 1 year ago by grinandbearit
JimO

The thought that mrna vaccines are activated by 5G networks is proof the missinformation by antivax conspiracy nutcases is beyond belief.