How do you know what to believe?

It’s difficult to know what to believe these days.

As we enter the first day of lockdown 3 it is beyond belief that there are many out there who still think covid-19 is a conspiracy.

Added to that there are those who believe that by accepting a vaccine we are putting ourselves in danger.

As someone eager to get back to some resemblance of normality I’m chomping at the bit to get vaccinated as in my view this is our way out of the pandemic so I really can’t fathom where those other opinions have come from. However this year instead of getting embroiled in a social media stand off I have resolved to understand the situation from another perspective. 

So with that in mind the purpose of this post is not to thwart any argument that contradicts my own but rather examine the idea of where beliefs derive.

I’m sure I’m not alone in rolling my eyes when hearing the term fake news. Somewhat jaded by its overuse as over the last few years it's something we hear with frequent abandon in modern day parlance exacerbated by the omnipresence of social media. That said, the abundance of fake news is a genuine problem, impacting every facet of our lives and therefore something we need to pay real attention to. 

Having recently geeked out on the excellent Ian Hislop’s Fake News: A True History and British History’s Biggest Fibs series with Lucy Worsley we know that this is by no means a new phenomena yet I was astonished to observe that historical inaccuracies are still shaping our modern day thinking. 

The manifestation of these events are still being experienced in our lives to this very day and it’s specifically pertinent given the UK is embarking on it’s journey outside the EU this week.

Again I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone as to how they voted in the referendum. The purpose of this post is to challenge ourselves to question our world view as the polarisation of opinion over the past few years, whether on the topic of brexit or the pandemic, is a reflection of how we see the world which is shaped by the information we digest.

Simply put, our beliefs shape our thoughts which leads to our actions or inactions and therefore our ability to move forward.

The thing that surprised me most when watching Ian Hislop’s programme is that in many instances the misinformation we are fed mostly on our social media channels is not meant to make us believe a certain way but rather make us cynical about everything we read. Effectively encouraging us to not believe in much at all and reject anything we come across, in other words become cynical. 

A cynical world is a very dangerous place to be as we get blindsided with distractions and take our eyes off the ball to opportunists, so the main takeaway I got was to be skeptical instead. 

You can do this by asking yourself the following questions when consuming information online:

  • Who is telling me this?
  • Why are they telling me this?
  • Do they actually know anything about this?
  • Can they be trusted?

As we navigate our way through the most challenging times many of us will experience in our lives we have never been in more need of help to make good decisions. Misleading information and interpretations will hinder our ability to do this and move forward both personally and professionally.

It would be great to get your thoughts on the topic and share how you undertake your due diligence on processing information. 

Musing over this topic I entered the rabbit hole of the internet and came across the following article discussing the differences between cynics & skeptics and the impact it can have on your business especially if you are looking to grow your team.