I’ve been doing a lot of wondering lately. Perhaps it’s connected with Covid, aging, or a deepening spirituality – or maybe not. I wonder. Mostly I’ve been wondering about politics and how people of sound mind and good will can come to differing opinions about what is true. Isn’t truth by definition true?

For example, I believe that planet Earth is mostly round. Photos and science prove that to me. I also believe there is a creative force that gives meaning to my life. I call that force God, although others may name it Allah, Bhagavan, YHWH, The Light or 100 other names. I also choose to believe that there is some kind of existence after my death. I have no proof that this is true but I live my life hoping it is true.

But, back to politics. With both Democrats and Republicans claiming that the other side has fake news, how does one know that a particular political message is true? Of course I believe that my news sources are accurate and reliable, but could it just be confirmation bias? I suppose those with opposing views also trust their news.
For a bit of objectivity check out the media bias research done by All Sides. Of course one might also debate whether All Sides is biased.

Truth can sometimes look like a moving target as new information is uncovered. Also, sometimes the moral of story can be true even if the facts are fictional (for example, see the parables in sacred scripture). Although I’m not a media expert, I googled about 30 websites about how to evaluate truth in media and here’s a summary of the basics:

  1. Is the article or news show objective and fact based or rather does it seem to have more opinion or anecdotal stories that are not necessarily generalizable?
  2. Does the author/host have a credible reputation beyond faction followers?
  3. Are sources named? Are they credible according to a neutral source? How was the evidence vetted?
  4. Has an attempt been made to fairly present both sides of a controversial issue?
  5. Do the points made sound like an attack, hyperbole, or weak on verifiable facts.
  6. If in doubt, check the normal fact checking sources like FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, or Politifact.com.
  7. If you want to go the extra mile and have the courage, find a person who represents an opinion different from yours and ask them to share their thinking with you. Your job is not to debate but to carefully listen. Offer your opinion only if asked.
  8. Be cautious of bringing controversial issues up in mixed groups, especially with family members. If there is good will on both sides it may work, but ask yourself whether it’s worth endangering the relationships.

Will you find out for sure whether there is life after death? No, but that is a matter of faith and hope. It can’t be proven in this life.