HOW CAN WE KNOW IF THAT EMAIL, BLOG POST, OR NEWS STORY IS TRUE?

true or falseIs the truth important?

I think Jesus said that it was. For example, here are some of His words when He spoke to a Samaritan woman who had come to a well to obtain water.

John 4:21-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

When we love the things of this world (as that Samaritan woman once did) , we love something ephemeral, lies that will pass away. (1 John 2:15-17). To grab hold of that which will last, we must seek God’s viewpoint, to see what He created through His eyes. We must seek to know the whole of the truth, not just what we wish to believe.

The attitude problem

Because we prefer positive feedback, feedback that affirms us, we prefer to read and view only that which echoes back our beliefs. We tend to limit our circle of friends and acquaintances to those who share our beliefs. Such limits can become self-imposed blinders. Thus, when we receive an email, see a blog post, or hear a news story that says what we wish to believe, we jump to a conclusion. That story is true! We don’t seriously consider the possibility that that email or post is a lie. Instead, we spread the lie.

Why don’t we check the truth of the matter?

Every lie is two lies — the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com (H/T to www.quotegarden.com/honesty.html)

We want to believe the lie.

How do we verify an email, blog post or news story?

So before we forward it or repost it, how do we verify an email, a blog post, or a news story? We for check for sources.

When we pass on “information” without saying where we got that information, we do no one any favors. Before we can rely upon any “fact” as the truth, we have an obligation to test it. How do we test a fact?

  • We can do our own primary research.
  • We can check for sources (TV shows, newspapers, magazines, blogs, friends, and so forth), people who have already done the research required to validate the factual truth.

When do our own research, we know the quality of our work. That understanding of and trust in our own work becomes our measure of faith in that truth or fact. Usually, we do this sort of testing with respect personal choices. Who do we choose as our friends? Who becomes our spouse? What is our profession? What is our religion? Who is our doctor? And so forth.

When we rely upon sources, we depend upon the reputation of those sources and the research they say they have done. Yet from time to time we must remember the words of President Ronald Reagan.

Trust, but verify.  — Ronald Reagan

It is not a good idea to rely upon just one source nor is it a good idea to rely upon a group of a sources that all share the same ideological view. Nonetheless, we all make excuses and do exactly that. Fearful of having our beliefs challenged (and angered when they are), we may avoid making the effort to verify the reputation of our sources. That’s a big mistake!

So when we get that email, see that blog post, or hear that news story that looks too “good” to be true, how do we verify it? How To Spot an Email Hoax provides a good start, but here is a bit more.

  • Does that email, blog post, or news story cite a source?  If it does, we check the source. We read the source. We don’t just assume that the source will confirm that email or blog post. Sometimes the source may say something quite different.
  • If that email or blog post doesn’t cite a source (or a source we trust), what do we do then? We use our favorite search engine. We can search the Internet for important words and phrases from that email or blog post. To focus on decent hits, we can limit our search to news sources or to recent web posts.  If we are lucky we will get hits from a reputable websites that cite sources and confirm or deny the veracity of that email, blog post, or news story.
  • What if we don’t get any decent hits? What if that email, blog post, or news story has just gone viral, and there is still nothing to substantiate it. If that is the case, we don’t have to participate. Because it is probably not true, we don’t have any good reason to forward or repost the silly thing.

Is the truth out there?

The fact is we have a limited capacity for gathering and analyzing information.  Therefore, the Internet poses a big problem, far more data that we can ever hope to assimilate. Thus, we must filter out and ignore what don’t need and can’t use.

Nevertheless, we must validate the veracity of the data we choose to receive and use.  Is the data real? Is it complete? Does it lead us to the correct conclusions?

Consider How to check if that viral video is true and How Do You Know if What You Read Online Is True? The first article indicates the news media will post stuff they have not verified.  Because corporations exist to make money, the corporate news media cares about what increases their ratings (and echoes their own world view). The second article is aimed at children. Can you imagine why The New York Times would teach children to be skeptical of the Internet? Why not skepticism of the news media too?

Well, some are skeptical of the news media and the Internet. Hence we get numerous websites like the following.

Unfortunately, even though such websites can be helpful, we also have to filter out their biases. What do we use as the basis for that filter? I suggest becoming familiar with the wisdom contained in the Bible. The Bible serves as a mirror for our souls. When we begin to understand ourselves, then we can begin appreciate our own limits, just how and how easily we can be fooled.

 

PLEASE DON’T SPREAD NONSENSE

confusedAre we in serious trouble? Yes. Our government can’t be trusted, and our news media slants the news so much they may as well be lying. Nevertheless, with a bit of research we can get a fairly good approximation of the truth. Therefore, BEFORE we post something or email it to our friends we need to investigate. That is particularly true if what you get does not provide even a halfway reputable source.

Here is an example.

This  needs to go around, over and over. We need to learn !!!

Read  entire story, we should be very, very concerned about  this!
And  to think that Fox News was the only channel that reported this. They may  be “politically incorrect”, but at least they had the courage to report  it.

      In  my opinion, the Muslims are all getting very brave now. Read Tedd  Petruna’s story below. Can you imagine, our own news media now are so  politically correct that they are afraid to report that these were all  Muslims?

Unbelievable.  Thank God for people like Tedd Petruna.

      Tedd  Petruna is a diver at the NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Lab) facility at NASA  Houston .. Tedd happened to be on the AirTran Flight 297, from Atlanta  to Houston. Here’s his report :

      “One  week ago, I went to Ohio on business and to see my father. On Tuesday,  the 17th, I returned home. If you read the papers the 18th you may have  seen a blurb about where an Air Tran flight was canceled from Atlanta to  Houston due to a man who refused to get off of his cell phone before  take- off.. The story was only on Fox News. That was NOT what really  happened.

And so forth.

I am not going to embarrass the blog I copied this off of by linking to the post. What would be the point? Google the darn thing. It is all over the place. The problem is that every blog that posts this thing hurts its reputation and that of other blogs by association.

Because we live in an era when clever liars think themselves clever, we must trust but verify (as Ronald Reagan once said).

Here are several reports on that story.

Anyway, if you got taken in, don’t get mad about it or upset. Happens sooner or latter to everyone. Just pledge yourself to fact checking BEFORE you email or post. Otherwise, don’t email or post. If it is not important enough to verify, then it is not that important.

WHAT WE SEE IN OUR NEIGHBORS DEPENDS UPON WHERE WE STAND

family friends neighbors

REVIEWING THE ACCURACY OF HAROLD ESTES CHARGES  — UPDATED 12/25/2012 has proven to be one of my more popular posts, and so long as people continue to forward Harold Estes’ email to their friends and acquaintances I suppose that popularity will continue. Why did I write that post? It fascinated me how some people reacted to Estes’ letter.  They locked on the details, and they ignored the broader truth. Here, A Rare Political Post: That Damn Letter Again!, is an example. Consider how the author, , cites my blog.

The blogger Citizen Tom does a good job of tracking down all the quotes which Harold B. Estes supposedly referenced in his letter. Most of them, as suspected, are taken out of context. But read it for yourself.

While I appreciate the compliment, I have to wonder whether Vick actually read my post. I don’t think Vick read my conclusion. In essence, I agree with Estes. Yet, if you read Vick’s post, you will find that he vehemently disagrees with Estes’ letter. Therefore, I think Vick merely scanned my post, found what he wanted to find, and then linked to my post.

So what’s the lesson here? Well, I actually see two.

  • If something is worth doing, then we must force ourselves to take the time to do it right.
  • If we want to understand why others believe what they believe, then we have to make the effort to put ourselves in their shoes.

Did Vick force himself to do it right? Usually we all avoid that sort of work. That is why we have all received a great many emails with wrong information. Our friends and relatives read an email that conforms to their world view, instantly believe what they have read is true, and so they forward that email to their family and friends. Like as not, when Vick read my post he did something similar. Instead of carefully reading what I wrote, he just saw what matched his preconceived notions and jumped to a conclusion.

Did Vick try to put himself in Estes’ shoes? I believe he thinks he did, but I think best to let others decide for themselves how well he succeeded.

Read A Rare Political Post: That Damn Letter Again! However, when you read Vick’s post, I suggest you try something I expect you will find difficult. Try putting yourself in Vick’s shoes and believing what he believes. Don’t think it worth the effort? When Christ Jesus died on Good Friday, He did more than that. He put himself in our place, and He suffered the punishment we deserve.

LET ME KNOW IF YOU CAN REFUTE THIS! — ANOTHER EMAIL YARN: UPDATE

moneytree

See UPDATE at the bottom.

Because he knows I amuse myself by investigating silly emails, I got the following from a friend.  He just added this line in front: “Let me know if you can refute this!”

Short Sale Deal

We felt like this was the perfect time to share this IMPORTANT story with you. Recently, our good friend Michael (a local realtor) shared his experience with Leisa and I about an “Obama supporter” he encountered while showing homes to a low income, working family in Pontiac, MI.. We asked him to please write it down so we could share it with you. YOU SHOULD BE SITTING DOWN WHILE READING THIS:

As a Realtor for the past 28 years I thought I’d seen or heard it all… Until now.

I was showing homes in Pontiac, MI. one afternoon recently and showed up at a home at the 4:00 pm time my appointment was scheduled for. After I woke up the homeowner, she let us in and then proceeded to tell my buyers and I that she has already entered into a contract to sell the home on a short-sale. (A short-sale is a sale where the banks accepts less money than is owed on the home). After some chit-chat, she proceeded to tell us that she and her sister (who also lived in the area) were buying each other’s homes via the short-sale process. I mentioned to her that I thought relatives could not be involved in those transactions. She smiled and said “We have two different last names so no one knows the difference”.

She went on to tell us that each of them owed over 100K on their homes and were in the process of buying each other’s homes for about 10-15K cash. To top it off, they were each receiving $3,000.00 in government provided relocation assistance at the closing.

My buyers and I were amazed that she was outright admitting to fraud and yet, she continued. She began to tell us that the best part of her scheme was that because they currently were not working that they (both) are now receiving Section 8 Vouchers. I said I thought those were for renters and she said “That’s the best part; me and my sister are going to be renting each other’s homes so we don’t even have to move, and Obama is going to give us each $800.00 a month to pay the rent!” She then picked up a picture she had framed of Obama and did a little happy dance around her living room and while she kissed the picture she was singing “Thank you Obama…. thank you Obama.”

So here is the bottom line… Both of these scammers got at least $80,000.00 in debt forgiven, $3,000.00 in cash for relocation (when in fact they did not relocate) and to boot, you and I will now be paying (through our taxes) $1,600.00 in rent for each them each and every month…. perhaps forever!

Is it any wonder why so many people have decided that all they have to do is VOTE for the Democrats and they will be taken care of for life at the expense of the taxpayers? I would not be at all surprised if they are receiving food stamps and whatever other programs are available for anyone who is willing to lie to get assistance.

These women went from working and paying about $900.00 each in mortgage payments to staying home and getting paid $800.00 each per month to live in the same home they had been living in and all they had to do was lie on a few papers. This craziness has to stop! I’m sure this kind of fraud is going on each and every day all across the country and no one wants to touch the subject of entitlements because they might OFFEND someone or lose a vote or two.

By the way… she had an almost new SUV in the driveway, three flat screen TV’s and a very nice computer set up in her living room which was furnished entirely with nice leather furniture.

I’TS THE NEW ‘AMERICAN WAY’…..

For all of the “do-gooder’s” who voted for Obama to help the “less fortunate”, CHEERS!

Here is a link to some of the government assistance programs available

today:

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Benefits.shtml#Homes_and_Housing_Assistance

So what should we make of this? The link at the end hardly constitutes “proof” that this account is true, and we should not take it that way. Instead, we should begin by observing that proving something is not true can be so difficult it is usually not practical.  What matters is whether those who want to believe the story can prove this story is true. Search the Internet, and I doubt you will find such proof. People just repeat the story.

Is this tale possible? To some degree it is. Consider why a lender would accept a short sale. Banks profit by making loans, not by selling houses worth less than the cost of their loan. That’s why foreclosures do not help banks make a profit. Thus, if a house is severely underwater, lenders will generally prefer to accept whatever they think they can get without the added hassle of a foreclosure.

In some areas, some in Michigan in particular, housing values have plummeted, many houses are worth less than what their owners owe on them.  In 2009, the housing market in Detroit got so bad people believed this story, Average Home Price in Detroit Falls to $11,533; Yours for $50 Per Month. How bad Detroit’s housing market got I don’t know, but in December 2012 realtor.com gave the median list price of a house in Detroit region as $89,000. That’s low, but not in the 10-15K range.

So what is government assistance suppose to do? Here are some stories on how this is suppose to work.

What the stories say is that the taxpayers covered the losses of the government sponsored agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Since there are so many foreclosures and short sales in some area, I suspect the government and the banks are overwhelmed with red tape. So I suppose it is possible relatives are buying each other’s properties. Whether that is illegal I don’t know or don’t much care. The buyer will still have to pay what the property is worth. That’s the problem solved by a short sale. Even though the loan remains the same, the value of the property has gone down.

The rental voucher could also be possible.  Here are some government websites that describe it.

What would those two “ladies” be able to get out of the government for rental assistance? I don’t know. Since I don’t think the government should stealing money from the rich and giving money to the poor, I don’t care to get into the details. Since I think stealing is wrong, I already don’t think the government should be redistributing the wealth. I also think that when government does redistribute the wealth we can depend upon any such programs to become rife with fraud.

So do I believe the story? No. The part about the lady singing Obama’s praises is just too silly. Obviously, whoever wrote this tale was just playing to the disgust many feel for what that man has done.

What I do believe is that the mortgage lending industry is broken, and I blame our government. Government created the housing bubble. Government sponsored agencies such Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac put taxpayers into the mortgage lending business, and government officials bought risky loans, loans the borrowers could not be counted upon to pay back. Then, when the bubble burst, taxpayers and home buyers took the losses, not the lenders. That’s because the lenders sold the loans to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other suckers.

So it is that when the system was making money, lenders and realty companies raked in the profits. Then, when the system started losing money, taxpayers covered the losses.

We should not trust politicians to take money from some people and give money to other people. That’s stealing. Nonetheless, it is futile to blame gullible home buyers for the housing bubble. Middle men, bankers and realty companies, not home buyers, were the principal beneficiaries of this theft.

You a taxpayer? You know anything about mortgage lending? You think politicians can be trusted to invest our money wisely? No and no? Nevertheless, we are in the mortgage lending business, and we are trusting politicians to invest our money. That’s why politicians have lost so much of our money.

We have seen how this racket works, and its name is Socialism. It is time to shut it down.

UPDATE

A commenter, Anti-propaganda (here), has provided a couple of links I think worth sharing.

Snopes.com has an article, Short Sale, that deals with the Short Sale Deal email. What I found interesting is that Snopes.com could only rate the email as probably false. Although the transaction would have been illegal and absurdly risky as described, they still did not regard it as totally outside the realm of possibility. That suggests that with some work the scheme could be made to work.

Anti-propaganda also provided a link to the Pontiac Housing Commission, observing: “The Pontiac Housing commission isn’t even accepting section 8 applicants.” Here’s why.

The Pontiac Housing Commission Housing Choice Voucher section 8 waiting list is now closed. We have received 500 requests for applications and no additional request will be accepted.  Please do not continue to call or leave emails.  Thank you for your interest in our program.

The folks at the Pontiac Housing Commission have more work than they can handle.

Snopes.com exonerates President Obama, pointing out that the legislation involved predates him. That part of their analysis glosses over the fact that Obama was a Senator before he became President, and that he has done absolutely nothing to fix the problems that created the housing bubble.

As I noted before, it serves little purpose to blame people like the two sisters in the Short Sale Deal email. Would such people be idiot supporters of politicians like Obama? I suppose so. Are there idiot supporters of politicians like Obama? Apparently. Nonetheless, the enemy is a bad idea. We call it Socialism. The solution is to get our government out of the business of wealth redistribution. When government redistributes the wealth, that only empowers politicians and their wealthy benefactors. Everyone else suffers.