The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.Proverbs 14:15
Fake News of Old
It seems like we have heard so much talk about “fake news” the last few years. But I remember learning about fake news when I was a kid. Does anyone remember reading the headlines on National Enquirer and thinking they were real? Mom had to teach me that not everything you see in print—especially the magazines at the checkout counter in the grocery store—should be believed.
Bizarrely, I was in the grocery store this morning and noticed some of the same magazine titles on the racks at checkout. Apparently they sell enough that the companies can keep printing them. There may be some people buying them for the humor, but I can only imagine that most readers believe what they are reading from those publications.
Then we had the dawn of email. Were you surprised when we didn’t all get rich by forwarding emails from Bill Gates that promised to give us $1 for every person the email was forwarded to? Or, more recently, did you have to try and make your broom stand on it’s bristles during the spring equinox?
For several years it seemed like you could pick out a new internet user based on what they are sharing on social media or forwarding through email. But then I see some people sharing known hoaxes and happen to know they aren’t new to the internet. They are gullible and believe everything they read.
Nothing New Under the Sun
Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, also wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. In that book he tells us there is nothing new under the sun.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9
We’ve seen false news and information over and over in our lifetime. It certainly had to be around in Solomon’s time. Otherwise he would not have given the warning that he gave in Proverbs 14:15. He is encouraging us to pay attention to the information that comes our way.
I cringe every time I hear the phrase “fake news.” People seem to use it to mean that there is some type of malicious intent in spreading false information. Well, of course there is malicious intent. This is not new. People have been spreading lies for centuries.
Solomon reminds us that we should not believe everything we hear. We can’t trust everything we watch on the evening news either. And, if you are getting your news more than once a day, you certainly can’t believe that everything they are saying on a 24-hour news channel is true.
Be Wise in Your Information Consumption
The simple believe every word, Solomon says. Even if you mostly agree with the media source, you should watch it with a skeptical mind. We have heard preachers say for many years, “you shouldn’t believe everything I say just because I say it. You should research the Bible yourself and see if what I am saying lines up with what the Bible says.” And we agree with that. Yet, so often we will hear a statement on TV, or said by someone online, and believe it to the point of getting into arguments about something we really know nothing about.
Don’t be like the simple one in Proverbs 14:15. Take time to find out if the “facts” you are believing and quoting are indeed factual.