Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

August 15, 2013

Carrie Stambaugh: Reasons to seek the truth: 08/16/13

ASHLAND — I noticed a long time ago that facts are becoming less popular. They are increasingly being replaced by opinions at every turn.

I see this happening daily among both individuals I interview as well as my friends, family members and strangers. It’s rampant online and a staple of social media.

What troubles me about this is many people fail to realize they are even doing it and, therefore, the danger that lies in confusing the two.

I was taught early on in school there are things called facts and separate, other things, called opinions. Facts are things that are known to be true and can be proven true. Opinions are what someone feels about a particular topic and wants to be true.

It is almost like needs and wants.  Of course, our society has a lot of trouble with this concept too, but that’s another matter for another column.

Journalists are obsessed with facts. We are trained to seek them out. We get paid to report the news, which includes the actual facts and sometimes people’s opinions of those facts. But always the facts.

We spend our days helping to facilitate the flow of information from reliable sources to a citizenry seeking to be informed. The idea is that by knowing the facts people can make an informed judgement, create their own opinion and then take action based on what they know to be the truth. That’s right, truth and opinion are supposed to work together.

There is nothing worse than being lied to, and putting forth an opinion as fact is the same as lying in my book. What is especially infuriating is when people in leadership positions, especially politicians, deliberately fail to do a little fact checking. They just spout out whatever comes to their mind that they want or feel should be true and place it out there as fact.

To them, their opinion is fact, and they have great disdain for anyone willing to challenge them on that, especially a reporter. Yet, that is exactly what we are supposed to do.

Another staple of a rational society  I fear is becoming endangered too is common sense. Most people gather information and using their common sense make a decision about whether that information is believable or unbelievable.

I hear all kinds of outrageous things thrown out everyday as fact that are blindly and earnestly believed without question. If just a smidgen of common sense were applied, surely the believer would discover how outlandish they are being and want to seek the truth.

Sadly, this doesn’t happen either. In the information age, there is so much information it can be hard to sort out what is true and what is false, much less what is fact and what is opinion. Many people only seek what they want to believe. That’s the easiest thing to do.

That has to stop. The death of facts is undermining our democracy. If opinions are allowed to continue to substitute for facts, we will only exacerbate the very real problems we have. We must have the truth to understand and solve them.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Lana Bellamy: Waking up America's youth: 4/18/14

    I once read a quote by a man saying the reason today’s youth do not have the same “spunk” as youth in the past is because they do not have inspiration.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mark Maynard: Let’s just forget about it: 04/17/14

    The older I get, the more forgetful I become. Does that sound familiar?

    April 16, 2014

  • Uncovering forgotten treasures

    You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.
     

    April 14, 2014

  • Political stories worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.
     

    April 13, 2014

  • 0413timbizcolweb.jpg Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

    It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

    In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.
     

    April 12, 2014

  • Feeling happy is ...

    Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.
     

    April 10, 2014

  • 0410markcol.jpg Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14

    Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14

    Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.

    April 8, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats

    It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.

    April 8, 2014