Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Fake News, Fake Facts and What We Think We Know.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 14, 2017

No. 1,297

In this age of electronic spying and Wikileaks, how are we supposed to know who made up what?  And even if something isn’t a total fabrication, a misinterpretation can be just as deadly. During the Presidential Campaign, fact checkers reported that an extremely high percentage of alleged facts we were being told by both sides was totally or partially false or stated in such a way as to be misleading. So what are we supposed to do?

The answer is and perhaps always was, doubt everything.  Do not permit your brain to be an open dumpster.  Demand proof, real proof.

Believe it or not, there is a way to do this.  Apply the rules of evidence which have been developed by the legal system over thousands of years.  First, separate fact from opinion.  I’ll form my own opinion when I have enough facts, thank you very much.  I don’t need celebrities — or anyone — to help me with this.

Facts must come first hand from a credible source.  A news organization reporting what somebody else says or writes is not a first hand source.  Thus, it is always necessary to look past the news copy to the actual first party testimony from a qualified and knowledgeable source.  This is a difficult task, especially when the medium has edited and even censored a news clip.  This means that the truth is only partially available to the general public. So we must be patient and refuse to accept allegations made by partisans or by those without first hand knowledge and adequate expertise.  That means that just about everything we are told must be taken with that proverbial grain of salt.

Yes, the task of getting to the truth can be overwhelming, even impossible.  The rapid acceleration of technology and events makes today’s truth obsolete. We are severely limited in what we can observe, analyze and understand.  In a world exploding with change, we cannot know or understand more than a tiny percentage of available information and despite our best efforts, much of what we think we know will ultimately turn out to be flat wrong.




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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