The Fearless Person’s Truth-Loving Test

Last time, I promised a simple way to detect which ideas are full of baloney. The technique I’ll share has kept me from being taken in numerous times, one of which I wrote about in the post, A UFO Nut’s Truth-Loving Test. As in that case, the technique is particularly effective when you have a pet idea that you think is above refutation.

Use your favorite Internet search engine to search for

<insert pet idea here> debunked.

…and then read what you find with an open mind. I call this “the fearless person’s truth-loving test” because you have to be brave enough to read with an open mind whatever the search engine turns up. When you do that, your idea may or may not pass the test, but you will have because you will have shown that you love truth more than you love your pet idea.

For example, let’s say Donald Trump has us all torqued up because illegal immigrants are committing lots of crime.

Who can blame us for being outraged? I mean, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Immigrants tend to be poor and poor people commit more crimes than the rest of us (except for white-collar crimes that bilk people out of their life savings but that doesn’t count, does it?). Also, illegal immigrants’ very first act in America proved they are criminals because — Hello! — they arrived illegally. It’s almost not worth wasting our time challenging Trump’s obvious truth but we’re truth-lovers, so we Google

Trump’s illegal immigrant crime allegations debunked

At the moment, the top hits are from The Washington Post, Forbes, Mercury News, and PolitiFact. Although all the publications in this case are reputable, we’d probably start with the most conservative one just because they are the least likely to have an ax to grind. Forbes is conservative, so let’s see what they have to say.

Their first point is that, statistically, immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than native-born Americans. Their source is a report by the American Immigration Council. Add one point to Forbes’ credibility rating because they supplied a link to the actual report, not to a news story about the report. We can follow the link and learn that immigrants’ lower crime rate pertains to both legal and illegal immigrants.

If we were not climbing down yet from our outrage, we could read the entire report and decide whether their methodology was sound, etc. We could also Google around for other studies about crime by immigrants. I’ve done this, and multiple reputable studies corroborate the Council’s findings.

Forbes had four more points, but you get the idea. To fearlessly challenge your beliefs, just Google such-and-such debunked. Just as people say, the Internet is filled with junk, but it’s not that hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

But how do you do that? How can you know which sites are reputable? That will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the other truth-loving tests in this series.

5 responses to “The Fearless Person’s Truth-Loving Test

  1. Pingback: “What I’ve Been Told…” | Path of the Beagle

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  3. Pingback: How to Assess a Website’s Trustworthiness, Part 1 | Path of the Beagle

  4. Pingback: Nietzche’s Truth-Loving Test | Path of the Beagle

  5. Pingback: A Fact-Checker’s Truth-Loving Test | Path of the Beagle

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