Can you tell fact from opinion? Most people can’t

The lines continue to blur.

Now, the ACT — the benchmark examination that determines the level of college preparation for students — has apparently found that few high school graduating students can tell fact from fiction. Or, perhaps, more importantly, truth from propaganda.

Moreover, a Pew Research survey agrees that average Americans have the same problem.

But, the links to the above surveys are 2-3 years old, so this isn’t new news. The real problem is that fewer and fewer people realize there is an issue at all. They honestly see news stories, Facebook posts and political statements as reality.

Today more than ever — and apparently in growing numbers — people are ready, if not anxious, to believe a lie. It is a sign of the times and suggests a growing comfort with advocacy-based and opinion-based news and talk shows.

It also explains the overt and undisguised assault by the mainstream media. While it shouldn’t be difficult to see that news organizations have turned into bullheaded party operatives, toeing the agenda lines of particular candidates and essentially reading from well-crafted press releases or talking points designed by loyal operatives.

How did we get here? Why are people so willing to believe a lie? When did reality and truth lose out to disinformation and brainwashing?

We live in a world of relativity that operates without a moral compass, with little or no solid, foundational beliefs. When there is no baseline or absolute starting point from which truth evolves, anything goes. Opinion changes and evolves.

The outcome-based era allows for everyone to win, everyone to be successful, everyone to play the game on their own terms and make up the rules as they go.

Problem is, though, is that there are absolutes. There is a common starting point, common boundaries, common rules.

Contrary to popular opinion, the world is not 50 shades of grey.

“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” William Penn

Tolstoy understood the difference. The great writer and philosopher said: “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

Patrick Henry said, “The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable.”

Yet, we are here. The media, Congress and Americans in general either are blind to their inability to recognize truth or refuse to accept the bounds of a moral philosophy.

And, unfortunately, it has infiltrated family life, business and even the church. Politics, personal denigration and selfishness all too often drive church life, rather than a simple belief of truth and scripture.

America — the Congress, the media, business leaders and most importantly the church — must return to a basic understanding and recognition of truth and leave the propaganda and misinformation behind.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” ~John Adams.

For many years, it’s been obvious that educators have been moving towards a more liberal-based philosophy, teaching free-thinking agenda that is not based on an absolute border or starting point. Now, the education process itself has determined that its own students can’t discern truth from fiction.

We’re in a tailspin that is difficult to stop, especially since the vast majority of Americans don’t even realize they’re in a tailspin. For some, the responsibility lies with political leaders. Others will say that pastors and church leaders must lead the way.

But in reality, the best place — if not the only place — is to start with you and me.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~Rumi.

Start by taking the test. See where you fall on the scale of fact vs. fiction. Take the Pew Research test for yourself to see if your view of the world is skewed or based in reality. Come back and tell us how you did on the short survey.

Then, start with the closest person to you — that would be you — and begin to change the world.

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.

My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

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