Ubiquitous False Information

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The odds are very high that you are basing some of your important decisions on false information, or on information so incomplete that it might as well be false. I’m talking about more than basing your vote on fake news (although many people are doing exactly that).

Business decisions. Investment decisions. Spending decisions. Choosing a school for your kids. All manner of decisions.

Mainstream media can’t cover everything, but even if it could, many people don’t look at serious journalism any more. Many people get their news from social media without giving any thought to where it came from. People in other countries made plenty of money from the USA’s Presidential election campaign by inventing fake stories on their websites. The more outrageous the story, the more people flocked to their websites, generating advertising revenue for the site owners. So the stories became crazier and crazier, and a lot of people swallowed them as truth.

What does that have to do with you? Your business, your family, your friends?

Everything. And not “just” because it has determined the fate of the world for years to come.

Since the election I have been immersed in a river of information about what’s happening in a few million lives. I have a lot of practice at wading through information to figure out what’s credible and what isn’t. Many years ago I developed a set of rules for evaluating the veracity of information in environments where distortion is rampant. Those rules turn out to hold up well in the Information Age.

Undeniable patterns are emerging—patterns of substantial import. In the past at least some of these patterns would show up as news.

But they don’t. Not on “red” news media. Not on “blue” news media. Not anywhere, unless you credit occasional mentions as though they are only side issues with minor impact.

Unless you are one of the few people who do what I do in this regard, you don’t know about those patterns. If you are only getting information about your world from news outlets and, heaven help you, social media, you are more blind than sighted and you are at risk of making some whopping bad decisions.

Do you want to be in a position to make better decisions? Do you want to do that for the sake of your business, your family, your friends, yourself? Then do yourself a favor. Look beyond the news sources you use now. Open your eyes and ears to the world around you, and give a very big damn about the quality of the information you choose to believe. If more of us don’t do that, the collective effect of many unsound decisions will harm us all.

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