Lessons Learned: When the Dust Settles...Is It Fact or Fiction?

The Cutest Puppy You Will Ever See

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Get the facts first and you can distort them as you please.

Mark Twain


Being careful about what you read on line is something that readers may or may not do.

Often when someone writes on a site like HubPages for instance what the writer shares is often taken as credible and factual.

In fact many times what is shared is that dreaded O word…an opinion.

All photos have been chosen to solidify my opinions.

The Skinniest Bird Legs Ever!!

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Accurate and true?


Ideas and beliefs may be couched in such eloquent phrasing that what is written has a ring of sincerity and truth to it. So, it must be accurate and true. Right?

As my Daddy used to say when he was bringing home a point..."That just ain't necessarily so!!"

Recently several articles I read were filled with opinions that were shared as fact. The articles were worded so that it appeared what they were saying was research based when in fact it was not. The intent did not seem to be one of malice. It just seemed that in order to support the premise stated the article the facts had to be manipulated a bit.


The Most Unusual Plant Leaves in Florida

“Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” Benjamin Franklin


Read and Question

The reason this article is before you at this moment is that as I read one of the articles in particular I began to question what was being said.

Of course, being Curious Catie I had to fact check. And what I found out was interesting.

The author of the article had put a spin on the information to make it seem that what was being shared was indeed true and factual. What was the reality was it was partially true and as a result it became misleading

In the comment section, those who had read it accepted the article as factual and it was commended for its authenticity.

The failure to be accurate would not be one that would cause a serious disaster. It would cause serious embarrassment to someone who quoted it in circles where individuals knew the facts.

Know What You Do NOT Know


Clearly we cannot be experts on all topics. And many of us are not interested enough in some topics to care how accurate they are.

However as we all know there is danger in partially correct information. Rather than being lead to make an ‘informed’ decision quite the opposite could occur.

When making decisions based on what is read that will affect our health or our family’s health, safety, or economic security then the articles need to be completely truthful and accurate.

Of course most of us research and research and research when making decisions in such areas. That research often involves speaking with trusted financial advisors, medical professionals, or others. It is still important for us to do our own research as sometimes we as the lay person discover something that might be overlooked.

A baby candy cane grew into a jumbo candy cane over night.

If we did not know better, we might be convinced that really happened.
If we did not know better, we might be convinced that really happened. | Source

Reliable Sources


Relying on sources that have stood the test of time is probably one of the best ways to find answers that will dramatically affect our lives.

When reading on-line, consider the source of the information if you are considering basing an important decision in part or fully on what you have read. If the source is not one that has a proven record for reliability, keep reading and researching and go to those trusted individuals for help and advice.

Factual Overload?

Superlatives Often Tip Us Off

Be wary of superlatives in articles…best, biggest, longest, smartest…any words that tend to rule out other choices.

Granted we often speak that way:

"That was the BEST blackberry cobbler I have ever eaten.".

"My grandson is the smartest child you will ever meet."

"The pumpkin I grew was the biggest one in the county."(This one of course could be verified or proven or the opposite.)

But when you are reading about topics that will affect you and your family, be wary of superlatives that promise the sun, moon, and stars.

Close your eyes and give this a try after viewing...

"Factual Claims vs. False Claims"


An interesting article from Auburn University has been cited as a source. Please take some time to peruse it.

It is a document that shares in enough detail to bring home significant points about opinions and facts. The final paragraph states the premise of the article so well “…statements may be facts, opinions, false factual claims, untested claims.

Facts are statements supported by converging evidence, whether empirical, analytical, evaluative, or metaphysical.

Opinions are self-reports. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion because only that person has the inside information to verify a self-report.

False claims and untested claims are neither fact nor opinion. Both false claims and untested claims, but not opinions, claim to provide information about the real world. Accordingly, to accept a false claim or untested claim risks error, and error can be dangerous.

On the other hand, to reject factual claims is also risky because we fail to benefit from valid information. Mistakenly relegating facts about evaluative or metaphysical matters to the realm of opinion is a common failure of critical thinking.”


The rest of this article details many more of the fine points of the debate on the issue.

The sweetest little face ....

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Make Informed Decisions


When making decisions that will affect your family in some specific way:

Research, research, research and fact check.

When you read something just for your own interest or to increase your knowledge, decide how important the content is to you. If something you read makes you question its validity, stop and check. Stopping to check takes seconds and then you know.

For me, knowing that what I read is truthful and verifiable is important.

It just is.

My SCB (senior citizen brain) does not need to be cluttered up with useless data and half-truths. There is certainly enough ‘truth’ out there for us to share without having to color an issue to make it appear the way we wish it to be. Unless of course that is our intent and that, my friends, leads us into a whole other area, does it not?

"...I've always taken pleasure in a different kind of rebellion, which is putting a positive spin on everything, trying to enjoy myself at all times."

Zaac Efron

You Know What They Say About Opinions


My OPINION, for what it’s worth is this…not only should we be wary of what we read by unknowns like me but there are other very powerful and influential sources that are slanting the facts. There is no doubt that you know what they are. The huge news agencies on line, on television, and on the radio. What we read or are told on those outlets often has a spin. We are told the news from whatever point of view it is politically expedient for those outlets.

This is what I believe and experience has taught me is usually true but that does not mean that it may necessarily be true for you.

It is on each of us to sort through whatever we read and make a determination if it is true and accurate. If it sounds like there may be some shading, coloring, adjusting, rearranging, or some other misleading elements to the truth then decide how you wish to proceed. Challenge the authenticity of the information? Research it on your own? Correct the misinformation? Leave it alone?

Decide What is Important


The decision after all is, after all, a personal one. Each one of us will make our decisions using whatever sources we choose. Is it too broad a generalization to say that we all have our own agenda?

We may lean toward a particular source because that source supports the belief we hold as true and accurate.

We surround ourselves with individuals, friends, as it were, who share like views. And that is as it should be I suppose.

Retaining our own thoughts on a topic is still imperative. We can surround ourselves with those who think as we do but retain the option to offer a dissenting point of view. If you find that is unwelcome in your group, then you have a choice to make. Silence your opinion or express it and then deal with the consequences of your candor. Sometimes that is difficult. But, as for me, candid straightforward answers and ideas are what work for me.

Caution and attention to the slant on topics that is being offered up even in a subtle way in articles and new reports is our safeguard against being misled.

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Comments 34 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida Author

What an awesome comment AuFait.

It is so easy to color things to twist them to make what we say appear to have that ring of truth that we seek.

Being alert and ever mindful of that we can forge away through all we read and make decisions without being influenced by propaganda.

thanks once again for visiting

Angels are winging their way to you this morning ps


Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas

Some of the worst liars and the most ignorant people are geniuses when it comes to selling a bill of goods. I have written articles on fact or opinion as well as how to judge your sources. All that is covered in College English, if not before, and I expect you know that.

One thing that is especially complicated is politics. I liken politics to the ocean. Most people look at the ocean and they see the shiny surface, the waves that vary and they think they know all about the ocean. What they don't know their neighbor or their brother-ib-law surly does know and can inform them. It never occurs to them to look below the surface of the ocean and there is the problem. To really understand politics and who is really telling the truth one must immerse themselves in politics and learn what our constitution really says, what our laws say, and how things are really done as opposed to how they're supposed to be done -- not always the same thing.

Anyway, there are plenty of ways to get to the bottom of most things if one really wants to, but most people don't want to. For one thing, they wouldn't fit in anymore because they would hear their friends and coworkers and family unknowingly saying the most idiotic things because they don't know what they think they know and the subject is far more complicated than they can imagine.

It is possible to get to the truth, but it isn't easy. It takes time and effort and work. No magic pills available. No shortcuts.

Agree with what you say, but there are ways to get past not knowing, and wondering who to trust. Always be aware that there is and never has been a balanced objective publisher or writer or news agency. Not in the history of this country anyway. Everyone has their own agenda and their own slant that is a reflection of that agenda. I used to like to listen to the evening news on CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN. Generally the truth is somewhere in the middle such as it is. Every detail of how it is reported is determined by the idealogy and agenda of the station in question. The words chosen and how they are spoken all make a difference in how their audience reacts to what they hear. There is so much psychology involved and people who don't understand that are easily taken in. That's true on both sides of the issue.

I could write a book on this, but lots of people already have, and they're very good and eye opening too. Check out my Fact and Opinion article and my article on how to judge the credibility of people and organizations, research, books, etc. They're some of my first near the bottom of my profile page.

Voted up, IU, pinned to Awesome HubPages, and shared.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 22 months ago from sunny Florida Author

Thanks for stopping by dahoglund

It is up to us to discern what is suggested in writings of others I do believe

Angels are on the way to you today ps


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 22 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I agree with your opinions expressed in this hub. I tend to treat everything I read with an element of skepticism even with writers I trust. Years ago I worked for a small town newspaper and wrote a story in which I expressed some social issue point. My boss then asked me if I had a PhD in the subject. When I said no, he said that I should give an authority for the statement. He was right. Why should the readers trust my opinion?

A certain amount of skepticism is a healthy thing, I believe. up and sharing.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 23 months ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi Wannabwriter And I do believe that if we find it is not taught in our particular school, that we make efforts to see that it is and we as caregivers and parents pick up the slack and do it ourselves at home. We have so many opportunities on a daily basis to help our children think critically...and most kids love the challenge.

Thank you for visiting.

Angels are winging their way to you this evening ps


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 23 months ago from Templeton, CA

My opinion is that not much true critical thinking is being taught in today's schools. Yes, it is included in the curriculum materials being published by educational publishing houses (fact, I sell and have seen these materials), However, I am not sure how many schools purchase and use these materials. I am quite sure from anecdotal evidence that in liberal arts content areas the teacher's bias is often included in what are taught as facts.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

That is such a good point. HP forces us to think critically..to assess and evaluate what is written and then attempt to make an informed decision.

Thank you for visiting. RTalloni.

Angels are winging their way to you this afternoon ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

I know exactly what you mean. Now I read and my first thought is..what part of this is true and how much of what I see is staged???

Thank you for stopping by Mary.

Angels are on the way to you. ps


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

There was a time in my life when I read the newspaper I believed everything I read! I'm too smart for that anymore! I question everything now; not by choice, but because I have to.

Voted this UP, etc. and shared.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

Good stuff to keep in mind. "Caution and attention" are indeed needed, when thinking things through and dialoguing, and when reading and writing. One of the reasons I enjoy HP is because it allows me to exercise thinking skills, particularly along the lines of just what you've written about in this post.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Love it...I am actually a huge fan of Ripley.

Thanks for visiting.

Angels are on the way ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Great response Peggy The good news is there are many things we read that it is clear to us are opinions and others are facts.

The gray area comes when someone tries to spin something to make it seem to be one way when in fact the truth is not so clear.

It behooves us to be more proactive in our reading and in researching our sources.

Angels are winging their way back to you this morning ps


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Patricia,

Your illustrations are perfect for this discussion. Separating fact from fiction or spin is harder than ever in this day and age of the Internet and instant communication. Even with regard to medical studies...something comes out and is then refuted in further studies and all from so called reliable sources. Eggs are good...eggs are bad. Coffee consumption is bad...coffee is good for you. On and on it goes! As to politics...that is a never ending black hole of discovery and myriad opinions. Getting to the truth of the matter is difficult at times but we must try our best to ferret it out to make informed decisions.

Hope you are surrounded by angels on this fine day! Hugs! Sharing in many places.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I am related to the man known as "Believe It Or Not" Ripley. He would have enjoyed this Hub right along with me, believe it or not.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

I know. Right now I say I have the cutest kitty and I think it is a fact. He just is. We need to write that into the factual centers of the world for all to know.

Thanks for visiting. I hope all is good with you and yours and that your Thanksgiving is wonderful.

Angels are on the way to you ps


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

All great tips! I do often tell people that MY dog IS the CUTEST IN THE WORLD! heehee. Angels right back to you! :-)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Me too Nell. I read and read but the more I read the more I wondered how much I should believe. Now I am much for cautious.

I am especially wary of the articles that 'convict' someone before they have been found guilty.

have a wonderful day to today..sorry so long in getting back..the plate is a bit full at present.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thanks again for visiting Easy Exercise.

Yeppie, I wrote this primarily to serve as a reminder to me to self check before publishing..

Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 2 years ago from United States

PStraubie48,

Delightful hub!

Fact or fiction is "from ke" meaning Ireland? Forgive the silly question - American girls 'ya kno'!!!

We forget the power of the pen and Ben Franklin's wise words. It is amazing how humanity is linked - across the centuries - across the oceans? I am amazed at how similar all of humanity is and yet the visual is often so different.

The video was fun and energetic! So glad I live in the 21st century where I can eat my dark chocolate without any guilt or sin.

Thank you for another great hub! Voted up!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hiya, this is so true! I was pretty naïve when I started writing and reading the internet. I used to believe all sorts of things, now I always check and double check! mind you I am one of those people who insist on not believing a darn thing unless I check it for myself! lol!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Couldn't have said it better, drbj You nailed it.

Just don't believe it..most of it...that you see, hear, or read :D


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thank for visiting Genna

I have to agree about the Pup. There is quite a story behind that little pup that I may share some day.

As I mentioned in another comment, I also have to check myself to make sure that I have not accidentally misinformed anyone.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

I think, Alicia, that I wrote this as much of a cautionary note to myself as I did for others. I know we can easily put our own spin on an issue without really meaning to be untruthful or deceptive.

Self checking what we write is important for all of us.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Thanks, Rebecca. You are so right. Thanks for commenting. I know that I too may have mislead others with how I stated something from time to time. I hope not and I hope that most who share their thoughts do so without intentionally trying to twist the truth.


drbj profile image

drbj 2 years ago from south Florida

What important points you make, Patricia, with this well-thought-out post. In our world today we are bombarded with online and offline information. It is up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff when possible. Education is learning what we didn't know we didn't know and also what we know that just ain't so. Voted Up!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

First of all, what an adorable puppy! And that is a fact. :-) This is such an important, relevant topic. At times, I see people write articles that involve quite a bit of data, etc., without listing any of their source references. And news articles are sometimes opinion pieces or op eds disguised under the premise of “fact.” This hub is definitely a must-read for us all.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is an interesting and useful hub. Your photos and their headings reinforce your message very well! The message is a very important one. It's essential that we evaluate information that we read online or that we obtain from the media.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Some articles by their own nature are opinions...we have our own ideas and beliefs. That is one thing. But to change an article so that its meaning is taken as verifiable fact is another thing.

So glad to see you stop by, Faith. I need to come here more often to read and interact with my HubPages community.

Angels are on the way..thank you for the shares :D ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Of course, it is early morning as I am reading this, Bill, And I am laughing my head off. You are so funny and correct as usual..

Angels are winging their way to you at this moment ps


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Separating fact from opinion can be trickier than we think...this really provides some food for thought. I just LOVE how you illustrated this!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Hi Dear ps,

This is such an important hub here. Thank you for taking the time to write such truths here for all to take to heart whenever we are reading online, especially! There is so much information out there now, it is mind-boggling and could be so very dangerous to us all and our families, as you so wisely point out.

As Jan stated, you have me thinking too about my enthusiasm on a topic and whether I may have written more of my own opinions on such topic as opposed to facts.

Your photos really do help to bring home your point about the importance of doing research, research and more research! I love that candy cane and that sweet little face too, of course.

This is a must read, so I am tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing.

Hugs, blessings and Angels on their way to you, ps.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well hell, PS, you want people to actually look for facts before making an opinion???? You just upset the entire political process, didn't you? Voters aren't going to know how to do this, right? They are so accustomed to being told by FOX or CNN, that they may not know how to actually find facts over fiction.

I guess I'm being cynical. :)

hugs coming your way for a right-on article.

bill


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida Author

You are so right...the 'power of the pen' has down through history shaped events, hasn't it? Thank you for stopping by ...hoping to see more of you all here on HubPages

Angels are on the way to you Janshares


janshares profile image

janshares 2 years ago from Washington, DC

This offers real food for thought, pstraubie. You definitely present the truth about how easy it is for the average reader to take what they find online as truth. As I was reading this, I found myself thinking about whether I may have presented a topic with such enthusiasm that it wasn't researched enough. You've presented an important topic that we as online writers should pay attention to, and not take for granted the "power of the pen."

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