FACTS GIVE MEANING to the world around us. We rely on facts when choosing a car, computer, or college; when assessing investment opportunities; and when deciding which presidential candidate deserves our vote. Facts help us to evaluate options and inform decisions. We discovered the importance facts in grade-school classrooms and revere them to this day. Why? Well, because facts are facts.
But facts are complicated creatures. They exist in layers of context that alter their meaning and, often, the decisions that follow. Facts, in other words, are rarely “indisputably” true because context colors their meaning – sometimes benignly, but often to reflect or support a purveyor’s agenda.
Ironically, our commitment to facts discourages us from placing more stock in our instincts and hunches, and can lead us in a wrong direction with confidence. This dilemma has its greatest impact when facts address topics we know little about.
It may not be possible to know every layer of context that can alter a fact’s meaning. It is possible, however, to recognize that context matters and to approach information positioned as facts with a critical eye.
This blog provides examples of information which appeared to be indisputably true, but which upon closer look proved otherwise.