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Fact checking in the information era

fact checking
Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

In this period more than ever, people of any age and education share and re-share content about endless subjects directly or indirectly related to the current global COVID-19 pandemic. In this era of information, social communication, globalisation – opinions and theories bounce across continents in waves, non-stop, replaced swiftly by the next opinion and theory.

Unbelievable resources (time, energy, money, people) are spent debating everything with real conviction and passion. I’m sure you can easily remember many frenzied debates you have had with family, friends, colleagues or institutions; debates which a few days later are rendered futile as the source of the discussion is revealed to be fake. Yet it triggers actions and reactions with potentially obscure and unwelcome outcomes. How is it possible then to transition to an era where information doesn’t tie us up in knots, but rather paves the way for progress?

Humanity has survived and evolved by identifying dangers and risks, optimizing the expenditure of resources and calling on previous experiences, used as guiding lights of information that have defined our choices and behaviour. Knowledge was always a competitive advantage. Successful individuals and organizations were those which generated strategic understanding through R&D: information that was then protected and kept secret. 

Today information is everywhere, largely free to access and shared in a variety of ways.

People naturally seek information and knowledge but are too often assuming what they learn on social media (low resource expenditure), which is often reported in the context of the success and failure of others (experienced solution to overcome risks and difficulties) are the best references for developing personal opinions and actions.

The critical inquiry regarding the origin of such information and their truthfulness are mistakenly overlooked or remain unverified.

The consequences of such generalised behaviour is the massive waste of resources which, in the case of virus pandemic, is deadly 

Every innovator is by nature constantly exploring the uncharted territories and living in the unknown of what the outcome of the journey is going to be. As such we develop the ability to deal with uncertainty, to identify and verify the source and the quality of the information we obtain or generate, to understand and manage risk, knowing that through due diligence, we reduce risks and maximize the probability of success.

When as an innovator we look at the current pandemic, we read data from WHO, we identify trends and follow key updates in the search for vaccines and cures conducted by credible research groups.

We need to ask ourselves the right questions about information (WHY is it important? WHO is the source? WHAT facts prove it?) and think about:

  • who is making the statement 
  • sharing it 
  • listening to it 

Because we are all entitled to our opinion but not to our own facts and because opinions based on unverified facts can have major implications. As guardians and distributors of information it is up to all of us to ensure it is harnessed for the progress of people and planet. 

The vision and mission of Innovators Magazine and OnePoint5Media is to support the global innovation community by identifying and providing trusted insight; giving a voice to innovators making a verifiable impact in accelerating progress in achieving the Global Goals and Paris Agreement commitments; and providing constructive online events and debating platforms where innovators can confront themselves by exploring the unknown and expanding space of possibilities.

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Dr Paolo Arancio
Written By

Dr Paolo Arancio is an entrepreneur, a strategist, an innovator and international speaker in nutrition and health. Paolo works on business transformation, development and leadership of global innovation and R&D programs/platforms, through international networks, across businesses and organisation such as global corporates, start-ups and consultancy.

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