Awhile back, an author wrote a book on guns in the United States. He argued that history showed that the “gun culture” was a relative new phenomenon and not present in early America. The book went on to great acclaim. Many endorsements. Awards were won.
Problem was, when people actually began to check the references, little of it was true. The book was withdrawn, so were the awards. Positions lost.
This particular incident was chronicled in Armed America. Regardless on your thoughts on the relevant issue (guns), that is besides the point for our purposes. What should be clear is as a writer doing research, or just as a citizen, don’t assume everything you read or hear is true, no matter how well it’s footnoted or couched in sophisticated words.
Too often we gravitate to only what confirms what we think is true. Rarely do we actually confirm or seek out other views. We let emotion drive our thinking and, in all reality, end up doing no thinking at all.
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true,” said Søren Kierkegaard. We can avoid this trap if we just train ourselves to stop, take a deep breath and dig a little deeper.
Ultimately, it’s about deciding to think like an adult.