On June 4, two librarians from HACC presented the program “Fake news: How to spot misleading news,” at Manheim Community Library. This problem is nothing new. Fake news has been used since the early days of our republic. It can cause strains in international relations, divisions between groups within a country, and serious health problems for individuals who believe false claims. With the internet, news disseminates instantly around the world. Many people get their news this way and then share it with friends. There is no editing, or even much thought, given to it. People readily accept any news that confirms their biases. We should be more responsible. Is this news from a reliable source? Are other sources covering it? Does it look professionally done? Why and for whom was it written?
Most newspapers try to present both sides of an issue. While this sounds commendable, there is a danger here also. I remember the “smoking causes cancer” controversy. The tobacco companies hired “experts” to claim otherwise. More recently, we’ve heard the claim that vaccinations cause autism. Now fossil fuel companies are sowing doubt that climate change is real and caused by human activity, in spite of the fact that a vast majority of climate scientists say otherwise. When the facts are on one side, no credence should be given to the other side.
As Joe Friday used to say on “Dragnet”: “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”