Be Cynical. Very, Very Cynical.

I’m a cynic –  I think I’ve always been a cynic but my cynicism fully took hold in the mid-90s with the infamous ‘McDonald’s Spilled Coffee Case’.  As a refresher, in 1992 Stella Liebeck spilled a just purchased cup of coffee in her lap and in 1994 sued McDonald’s for the damage incurred.  I, like many of us, scoffed and called her a dumbass for spilling her coffee and thought the lawsuit was just one more example of idiots bringing frivolous claims seeking easy money.

I remember this event blowing up in the media but the media didn’t give us all the details, or if it did it was later and with much less fanfare.  I learned a few more of the details when my wife was in a Business Law class in her MBA program.  Two of these details were that Ms Liebeck was burned so badly in some fairly sensitive areas that she was hospitalized for 8 days for skin grafts and originally all she wanted was $20,000 to cover her medical expenses.

Kind of changed my opinion of her being a dumbass and an idiot.  And it changed my opinion of trusting what I read or hear from a single source.  (You can get more details on the McDonalds case here.  Not a huge fan of all things Wiki for research but the article provides 38 references if you want fuller details)

Check your sources before forming an opinion.

Photoshop has profoundly changed photographs and photography and not always for good.  Enhancing a photo has been common practice from the beginning.  Old school photographers will remember the dodging and burning techniques where we adjusted the amount of light on a print to make bright areas darker (burning) and dark areas brighter (dodging).  I’ve no problem with enhancing the photos.  It’s been done forever.

The trouble is when photos are modified to serve some other purpose.  Some are clickbait (drawing traffic to a site for whatever reason and the topic of another blogpost when I get around to it).  Like this one:

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A fun picture but is actually a composition of two different pictures.  Definitely gets one’s attention, though.

Some other examples are here.  (Give it time to load.  They have an auto play video ad sucking up your bandwidth.  Sorry)

Check your sources before forming an opinion.

And then there is this.  I’ve seen this posted a lot on social media.

.  aattp-ll101

The problem?  Phil Robertson didn’t say it.  Rick Warren did in a 2012 interview with blogger Brandon Cox (near as I can find out).  I don’t know who started it or why they chose to attempt to defend Phil Robertson’s position on homosexuality by attributing this quote to him.  However I am reasonably sure a lot of people I know believe it was Phil that said it.

And so their opinion is based on a falsehood.  This is becoming more and more common and it’s a problem.

The interweb is a beautiful thing but full of misinformation and disinformation.  Some of it is unintentional I imagine but some of it is not.  Check your sources before forwarding, sharing, liking and whatever.  Many of you would not quote something from MSNBC.  Fair enough, neither would I.  But for the same reason, don’t quote something from Fox News. For the record, neither would I. Don’t sign on to media control of opinions without doing some research.  It takes a little bit of time but our nation needs us to take the time and find out as much of the real story as we can.  And it isn’t that hard.  Thanks a lot, Google.

Be cynical.  Be skeptical.  Be a researcher. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t be afraid to cite your sources.

Check your sources before forming an opinion.

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