Who fact-checks the fact-checkers?

Trust in different news organizations is split along partisan lines, and the recent debacle of a presidential debate only further fanned the flames of America’s epistemological crisis.

Political leaders spin truth and outright lie with abandon. Debate moderators allow sweeping statements to go unchallenged. Brash, rank incivility rules the day.

Let’s agree that many, if not most, political arguments can’t boil down into simple “true” or “false” designations, despite our entirely human desire to view issues in black and white. Today’s reductionist landscape of social media and sound bites doesn’t allow for much nuance, and individuals and organizations are typically quick to weigh in along party lines to signal their allegiances.

Trusting any single source – whether a leader, news story or even fact-checking site – is not enough to explore issues in their complexity.

To cool the national discourse, citizens must work harder to understand perspectives other than their own.

There’s always another opinion, another statistic, another interpretation. And people shouting their oversimplified versions of the truth past and over one another is exactly how we end up with two presidential candidates who aren’t even capable of being in the same room without trying to club one another down.

Those confident in their positions should have nothing to fear from exploring topics from additional angles.

After all, stories are framed according to the teller’s worldview. And even fact-checkers have their own biases to deal with.

If we want to be able to speak rationally with each other, there must be an attempt to understand someone else’s point of view and how they reached their opinions.

Too often, we attack each other’s motivations and moral character rather than considering the fact that someone simply may not be reviewing the same information.

Unlike that first debate, the world is nuanced. As citizens, we should educate ourselves more thoroughly on issues before attacking and degrading one another. Reach beyond conventional sources. Never relegate truth to fact-checking sites that only confirm your bias.

Strive harder for understanding.


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