Richard’s View: the accuracy of what we read

As part of my on-line activities I keep a regular eye on a number of discussion websites, particularly those that have to do with things I am interested in. I am frequently amazed at the inaccurate things that other people write and hold out as absolute fact. It makes me wonder, firstly, whether what I believe to be fact is indeed fact at all and secondly where other people get their information from.

I’m thinking of one website in particular. It is run by a major publishing company as it is linked to a series of magazines for a specific spare- time occupation I take part in. The members are, presumably, fairly intelligent and mostly well written which suggests that they are reasonably well educated so shouldn’t be taken in by any old bit of rubbish they read. Time and again I come across someone boldly extolling the virtues of a particular treatment for an eye condition – the most recent was glaucoma – which has worked for them but has absolutely nothing to do with the problem the group was discussing at the time.

Worse still they go on to promote completely erroneous views of their condition which they must have picked up from somewhere and then remembered wrongly – or mis-remembered if you’re a politician! If you ever politely enquire where they get their information from you are, as likely as not, told to get lost because working ‘in the business’ you are bound to be biased!

I also often hear and read things in the news, on subjects that I definitely do know about, that I know to be wrong. It makes me wonder just how much of the information that we absorb from all sources – radio, TV, broadsheets, tabloids, magazines etc. etc. is actually accurate. I know that when I give a lecture I have to make sure that I say all the important things at least three times or else the audience will probably not remember them. I also know that the few lectures I remember with any clarity from my student days were the ones where I can still remember the jokes!

As published in the April 2015 edition of the Littleover Little Book

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