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Photo by Peg McNichol | No use without image owner's express permission
Grandma’s Teeth Garage, by Peg McNichol

Someone I love like my own child shared a message starting with “Look at (a group)” followed by “a blog has claimed.”

Whenever I see such quotes, I see a story in desperate need of thorough fact-checking.

“Look at (random group),” really? File that phrase under “root of pretty much every conflict in the history of humankind.”

Dig deeper. What is the writer or speaker really saying? What does he or she really mean?

Every news/information consumer can choose to:

1. Join the mob by suspending disbelief, repeating the story with reactionary rhetoric and inflammatory embellishment, advancing any propaganda.

2. Stand on a firm foundation of reason and core values, using deliberation to assess a story’s accuracy.

Ask the most important question of yourself and the storyteller: “How do you know?” Then make sure the proof goes beyond “a blog has claimed” or “so-and-so said/wrote.”

If the story is online, follow each of the links embedded in the text. Verify the facts from a variety of sources, even ones you don’t necessarily hold as accurate.

You may find the root of the most outrageous tales. You may find the truth ~ or something in between.

What you do next with that information defines you more than the story itself.