When you realize the importance of questioning your beliefs, you begin to look around for additional information and perspectives. But where do you look?
The sources we reference are pretty important.
These days, there is more information flying around us than ever before. It’s not always easy to sort through it and find the truth.
I’m not going to tell you who you should listen to. That’s up to you. I just want to recommend some questions to ask yourself when you’re making those decisions.
Before we look at those questions, here are a few things to think about:
You must dig and pursue answers. You owe it to yourself to do some homework on the things you claim to believe. You can’t just “take everyone’s word for it” on the most important things. You have to find out why.
Everybody believes somebody. When you begin digging, you will quickly realize that there are multiple perspectives on any given topic. You can dig down as many layers as you like, but, eventually, you will have to believe somebody. You weren’t there. You can’t know for sure. So, you can’t remove the human trust element from your research.
You have to choose who you will believe. So, if you’re going to have to trust someone, you need to make good decisions on who to trust.
Choose well. Don’t simply trust someone because you like them or they’re related to you or it’s what your whole tribe says. Truth is important enough to dig deeper than that.
Okay, enough prep work…
5 Questions to Ask Before Trusting Someone’s Information:
1- Do they listen to other perspectives?
If someone only hears one side of a discussion, they will be limited on their ability to make an objective decision. We have to resist only listening to those who share our beliefs. It’s unhealthy and will not end well. Some people begin with an assumption that they already have all the answers. They only listen to things that affirm what they’ve already decided is true. Not good.
2- Are they intellectually honest?
When the person finds information that goes against their position, how do they respond? Do they cover it up or do they adjust their position? Do they admit when they don’t know something? Do they concede when they should? Are they defensive when you challenge their perspective or do they allow the truth to be what it is?
3- Is their goal finding truth, or winning the argument?
When I’m looking for someone I can trust for solid information, the last things I want to hear are crowd-swaying tactics and us-vs.-them language. Pay attention to whether or not the person speaking is trying to “win” the argument or sincerely figure out what’s going on. If you see evidence that they will do whatever is necessary to win, beware!
4- Can their information be verified?
People make a lot of claims. I’ve watched political movies on both sides of an issue and found them to be equally convincing (and deceptive). Don’t just believe their information because you like them. Check it out.
5- Do they do their homework?
We’ve all received an email or a Facebook post making some outrageous claim about an “evil plot by so-and-so.” Most of the time, I pay them no attention. Occasionally, I check them out. I am amazed at how many times a Google search or a quick visit to Snopes clears it up immediately. Why would someone repost something that they had not checked out first? I’m not mad at them necessarily, just concerned.
We can’t chase every issue down every rabbit trail…nor should we. Some things just don’t matter enough to investigate. For those things, we just need to be honest and say we don’t know. However, on the important things, we have to make sure we’re getting good information.
Your turn! What things do you consider when you’re figuring out who to believe?