Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Part of the Problem Part 1: Information Reported...

I like the old saying, trite as it is, "if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."  Well, friends, more than one of you are part of the problem.  For that matter, I was too. Let me put it another way.  Far too many are getting the news, not just from Facebook or Twitter, but they are getting it from people whose job is to stir up trouble.  They add things to the stories.  They leave information out. They twist the story.  They lie.  They turn it to their own  beliefs.  Some of them honestly believe the tripe they spill out.  Others...not so much. There are some really smart and sleazy people who know exactly what they are doing.

You see, I was like some of you.  I followed some very specific sites for a while.  I was being misled.  I had become a part of the problem.  The evil of these sites is that when you start following one or two, you suddenly find that when verifying their "news stories" you unintentionally start looking for what you want to be true rather than looking for the truth.  I discovered that there were actual studies on this.  It's called confirmation bias.  So, I eliminated sites, TV shows and YouTube channels.  The truth, as hard as it is to deal with, has made my attitude so much better.

I see far too many re-posting stories, liking stories and generally just blindly following what these sites, YouTube channels, and TV shows have determined is news.  Take, for example, the story about the last words of a convenience store robber that I read a while back.

This comes from a site called  Notice the title is "Thug's Last Words..." The first tip is the use of a loaded word like "thug."  A thug is defined as a tough, violent man especially a criminal.  More than a few sites have stated that "thug" is a word not applied to all criminals but is now used exclusively for black criminals.  I'll accept, or at least hope, that this was not's intent.  I did find a discussion board though that actually used the "N" word though and announced the "N" criminal got what he deserved.  I would link it for you, but that particular discussion board has been taken down.  But oddly enough, it was this discussion board that lead me to the actual news story.  All other links, I found about the report, led me basically to stories that either said, " is reporting" or actually stole the story as their own.

I was looking for the original story.  I cannot prove that this is the story used, but it is a story with the same name of the gunman mentioned, and the only one that I found on an actual news site. This is where I was led, the New Jersey news site, NJ.Com (this link is the most detailed of the two stories on the site that I found).  What is interesting about this story is at no point does it say that the robber's last words were, "I thought you couldn't own a gun in New Jersey."  While I am sure that's purpose was to show why it is important to own a gun, it is not just the missing quote, but the fact that offers no details that verify where the quote came from.  I am not saying that these were not the robber's last words. I am saying that there is no link or record in the story as to where this quote came from. In fact, the quote actually only makes the robber look like an idiot who doesn't understand New Jersey gun law.  It seems to me that the store owner using a gun makes the point.  The additional quote really serves no purpose except as click-bait.  If  a site will add a quote without identifying its source, what else are they willing to do?

So the first step, in not being a part of the problem, is a simple one.  Find the original source.  Adding or failing to source information is not okay. It's like the seemingly harmless quote of the criminal's last word.  It doesn't really add to the point of owning a gun for protection, but it does make for sensational reading.  It's just that there is no source.