The Disturbing Truth About “Disturbing Truths”
Whenever I see a video or article that has a title vaguely reminiscent of “The Disturbing Truth About _____”, I find myself mentally correcting it to “One Very Specific View of _____ That, if Correct, May Be Controversial to Some People.”
I’m really tired of folks hopping on viral video trains or relying on word of mouth to get their news on current events. I’m glad that people are trying to stay current and are reading news articles, I really am, and it’s great that people are trying to be informed. That’s not the problem. The problem is that a lot of people (myself included), regardless of how noble their pursuit of information is, habitually take things they’ve read or seen online at face value without doing any background research or source checking.
This is particularly problematic when it comes to scientific articles that were picked up by reporters, as it can be very hard to tell which ones have been peer reviewed or published by reliable scientific sources (i.e. a real epidemic report from the CDC vs. a news report over CNN). Things can get oversimplified, and people snag vague, alarming and misunderstood phrases like “genetically modified” and run with them, creating all these trigger words that people don’t really understand the real root or cause of, which is how things like the Antivacc and anti-GMO movements even get started in the first place.
It doesn’t help that a lot of times, people will share these things they’ve read online with their close friends and family, who then take this as correct and share it with their own friends, etc. This plays out like a huge game of Telephone and a lot of fine details can get lost in translation. Things like “there is one Ebola patient in the US” can turn into “Ebola has invaded the United States”, which while still technically true, has a much broader and more alarming interpretation down the line. The waters of information grow very murky the farther you are from the source.
To summarize, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn, but for the love of cheese check your sources, people.