Daily Herald opinion: Be skeptical, and look for the 7 tenets of good journalism.
There is a trap just about anyone can fall into when going about our daily lives: confirmation bias.
If you're a fan of Beatles music and know in your bones that every good thing in modern music sprang from the Beatles, you might join Beatles fan groups on social media.
There, you'll find ample evidence to support your position.
If you're one who knows beyond the shadow of a doubt the Rolling Stones are the forebears of modern music, you might join groups of people who are like-minded about the Stones' enormous influence.
It's harmless enough. It's only rock 'n' roll, after all.
The problem with interacting with just the Beatles fans or just the Stones fans is that everything in these fan sites is based upon an unproven position that one of these bands is the most important in the annals of modern music. So everything is predicated on an assumption.
Rarely will you find opposing viewpoints or evidence in these groups that challenge your way of thinking, lest the heretics find themselves booted from the group.
As we said, it's only music. And one's love of music is a matter of personal preference, not guided by empirical data.
When we run into trouble is when the subject is not music but weightier things such as politics, law, war and religion.
This is News Literacy Week, a time when people in search of the truth shine a light on the importance of being able to identify reliable information.
The News Literacy Project, a group that advocates for truth and helps people understand how to look for it in our fragmented and expansive media landscape, has a list of seven standards of quality journalism to which the Daily Herald also subscribes. These are the things that are drilled into us in journalism school: the use of multiple credible sources; avoidance of bias; the use of supporting documentation; fairness; verification; balance and context.
If you live in a world in which the information you immerse yourself in merely confirms what you already believe, it's unlikely you will see any of these seven qualities exhibited.
And it is unlikely you'll ever find the truth.
There is a measure of courage in self-examination. It's not pleasant to learn that what you might have believed for much of your life simply isn't true. But truth is the bedrock of what real journalists seek to discover.
Sadly, too many people rely on non-journalistic sources for information that guides their perception of the world, and it comes without context, doesn't present opposing viewpoints and doesn't provide empirical evidence.
If what you're reading contains a lot of loaded language, know that it's meant to persuade, not inform.
Without these seven qualities -- or a preponderance of them -- you get only a sliver of truth, if that.
We urge you to look for the seven elements of quality journalism in whatever you read, watch or hear.
As Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges said, "Truth never penetrates an unwilling mind."