Truth and Misinformation: How to Spot False Narratives (Part 4)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

To wrap up a recent series of posts about truth, misinformation and how to spot false narratives, here is a summary of key points and questions for discussion.

Key Points About Finding The Truth:

Part 1 What is Truth?

To find a more objective truth requires uncertainty and doubt. Without uncertainty, we only see an issue with “sureness” and “resolve” based on our own experience.

Part 2 How Does Data Inform The Truth?

Data, taken in pieces or without context, can be presented as “truth” but the fragmented picture you will see is only informative in the context of the greater whole.

Part 3 What Role Does Media Literacy Play in Discovering The Truth?

Sources of misinformation and false narratives have a self-interested motive (and do not care about us or our well being). Our job is to stay literate as misinformation becomes more sophisticated and harder to spot.

How to Spot Misinformation and False Narratives:

Part 1 Watch For Relying on Blind Trust

Sources of misinformation and false narrative will tell you that you have all the information needed and will discourage you from looking further into the issue.

Part 2 Watch For an Opportunistic Spin Used to Evoke Emotion

Sources of misinformation and false narrative will often give you an emotionally-charged and opportunistic spin on a situation and call it the truth. People who question it may be attacked to deflect attention from a hidden motive.

Part 3 Look For Credible Sources Before Buying In or Sharing

Sources of misinformation and false narrative may not share sources backing up the story OR the sources they share are not reliable. Media literacy is how we avoid being tricked.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What false narrative might we be accepting as “truth?”
  2. How does that false narrative push our buttons, stoke our anger or tap into something we want to be true?
  3. What is the motive for sharing this false narrative? Is it monetary? Political? Initiating conflict? Diversion from a reputation issue?
  4. What steps will we take to be sure we’re not being misled before sharing information in the future?

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About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

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