This I Believe

Jack - Lewisberry, Pennsylvania
Entered on January 30, 2008

“There are no facts, only opinions”

As erudite as we think we as a society have become, virtually all of the information that reaches us is from sources which have in turn packaged information from their respective sources. We then form opinions or make decisions with the view that we have the facts of the matter at hand. In reality, we have no facts and are dependent upon the interpretations or opinions of those around us to form a basis for our actions.

Having recently retired from a career managing technology for financial services organizations, I was very much aware during the execution of my responsibilities that learning the facts was often the hardest part of the job. In virtually all crisis situations involving failure of critical computer systems, acting upon the information initially reported as the cause of the failure would have been a mistake, potentially exacerbating the problem. As I counseled my staff that all is not what it seems, deeper investigation revealed facts and guided us to the correct resolution.

I strongly believe in the strength of an informed populace. Fortunately, we have been blessed with the wisdom of our forefathers in laying the foundations for protecting our ability to remain informed. However, the information portals available to us today bombard us with information, frequently conflicting, and frequently representative of a vested interest.

It is important for us to remain mindful that these are opinions, to act responsibly when propagating information, and to pursue affirmation of information that will form the basis of our actions, our decisions, and, yes, our votes. Further, we have a commensurate responsibility to seek, use, support, and foster high integrity information sources that address the public without vested interests. Getting us all closer to the “facts” is enormously empowering.