If You Can’t Trust Snopes.com, Who Can You Trust?

Certainly not doctors, priests, police, journalists, textbooks ...

I’m lost. I’m lost and confused and not sure where to turn. My foundation is no longer solid, and I don’t know where to find the truth. I’m not talking about spiritual discovery, but rather, just the damn truth about the world around me. Used to be you believed that people were telling the truth. Doctors, lawyers, policemen, priests — all honorable professions undertaken by compassionate people that deserved, no, had earned, our respect and admiration. What happened? Turn on the nightly news and you find doctors that botched the job and then covered up, lawyers who stole from their clients, police who sell drugs on the side and priests … well, you get the idea.

And the nightly news anchors themselves have lost their luster. Newsmen were revered as champions of the truth. They held the light for us all to see. Then we had John Stossel fabricating test results, Dan Rather airing faulty information, and Bill O’Reilly unable to see past his own rhetoric. In fact, news delivery has become so polarized that we must all make a choice to either tune in to our own choir or listen to the enemy spin. And spin it is. The same news event is reported differently on NBC than it is on FOX. One channel’s good news is another’s bad. Who’s telling the truth? How do you spot the truth and dissect it from all the “interpretation”? [SIGNUP]

And what about school? When I went to school I assumed that what I learned was the truth; the history I was taught was accurate and the facts were hard and true. Funny how textbooks work, they’re only as “truthful” as the person writing them chooses to be. My daughter’s education did not mirror my understanding of history, social studies and civics. She and I have argued at great length about issues to the point that she produces the reference, a textbook that, in her mind, satisfies the argument with the truth. And why shouldn’t she believe that the text is truthful? I thought mine were too, even though they taught different perspectives than the ones she has digested.

I received an e-mail recently questioning the validity of Snopes.com. The e-mail suggested that Snopes disseminates information based on a political agenda. I was shaken. I use Snopes almost daily to research the many crazy things that come through my inbox. After some research, I found that Snopes had in fact dug up the facts and reported accurately on the issue at hand but the realization that their intent could be so easily scrutinized as suspect just proves that we don’t trust anyone to tell us the truth; not our government, not our news outlets, not the Internet.

I used to get up in the morning and plant my feet on solid ground, assured that my government had my back and my community was an admirable place to reside. Now, I feel the earth shifting under my feet, making me dizzy and longing for the foundation of truthfulness on which I used to rely. Maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe the scale is lying to me too.