I’ve been emailing back and forth with a friend and one of the topics that came up was what/who can you believe. I noted the prayer request I posted last month:
Recently I received a chain-letter-type prayer request a friend of mind forwarded me. The name of the chaplain on the message checked out, so I posted it (with a warning that I couldn’t verify, etc.). But if I can check out the name that easily, so can anyone wanting to find the name of a legit chaplain to slap on their message.
Soon afterwords, I received a comment from someone claiming to be a member of the church whose pastor originally received (and then distributed) the request. But how do I know that the commenter is legit?
In fact, if the pastor himself or the chaplain himself respond, how do I know it’s really them? I guess I could try calling the pastor personally (if I could get a number) to verify, but I doubt he wants all the phone calls. But let’s say I do that, and it’s legit. I then post that fact on my site.
How do any readers know that I’ve really done what I say I’ve done?
I generally don’t post that sort of stuff, but this one seemed innocuous enough.
Worst case scenario: People get tricked into praying for the safety of our troops and successful Iraqi elections by a fake letter.
Now, I happen to believe that the letter is genuine. But I have nothing to go on other than the fact that the chaplain does, in fact, seem to exist. My gut tells me that it’s real, and the downside if it’s not isn’t too bad. If it called for people to buy something instead of pray, or to mail letters to some PO box or something, I’d be a lot more skeptical.
I pointed out to my friend that I’m much more pre-disposed to believe some things than he is, and he’s probably much more pre-disposed to believe some other things than I am. Even when we strive to be objective about something, our upbringing, environment, and unique thought processes will be influenced by our own experiences and general tendencies.
I work hard to not post obvious BS on my site, and when I don’t know all the facts I make sure to point that out. Like everything, you will have to decide for yourself what you believe. That’s what I have to do when I read other sites. And not just blogs. If anything, Legacy Media needs to be watched even more closely despite the vast resources they have available to fact-check and judge information.
If I’m going to tell you that two superscripts are the same, I’ll at least make sure they match before I show you the pictures…