(NOTE: This was originally posted in January 2017. It’s actually big enough for 3 posts. This is post 3. It’s been updated to include not only the original points, but how they apply to those of us who own our own business.)

There is one other thing that contributes to all this. Americans are lazy.

I don’t like saying that about myself, but to some degree it is true. We do little to truly educate ourselves. How many times have you seen something shared on Facebook or Twitter that was factually false? People see something that matches their pre-conceived ideas, and just click the “share” button. A few months back, Pepsi’s Facebook page has been drowning in calls for boycotts from mindless Trump supporters who saw some story that claimed the CEO said Trump supporters “are free to take their business elsewhere.” There’s just one problem – she never said such a thing. She was certainly an adamant supporter of Hillary Clinton, and said so quite loudly. But she would never be stupid enough to incite up to 50% of the country to go to Pepsi’s competitors. She would have been fired the next day if she did.

We have to educate ourselves. And because there is no such thing as a completely unbiased piece of information, you have to go to multiple sources. Generally, when I see a political statement I want to validate, I take 3 steps:

1) Find an article about it on Fox News.

2) find an article about it on NBC, ABC or CBS News.

3) look for ground between 1 and 2. Usually, the truth will be there.

You have to be thorough. You could fill a small public library with all the books and material that will tell you that in 1839, Abner Doubleday was in Cooperstown, NY, playing a game of town ball with friends, got frustrated with the loose town ball regulations, sat down in the field and drew up a new set of more firm rules, and called the game “baseball.” When Major League Baseball decided to open a Hall of Fame, it was deliberately decided to build the museum in Cooperstown, NY, and to open it in 1939, exactly 100 years after Doubleday invented the game.

But there’s one problem – this is grade-A, organically-certified horse hockey.

Doubleday was at the US Military Academy in West Point in 1839, not Cooperstown. He did play town ball as a kid, but never claimed to have anything to do with the legend that he drew up the rules of baseball. What actually happened? As this continent was colonized, immigrants brought their games with them. The most popular were cricket, rounders and town ball. Out of those 3 games, baseball evolved. It was never “invented” by one person on one day. Yet, the myth lives on. Every summer, when MLB enshrines a new class of players and contributors to the Hall of Fame, at some point during the festivities, someone will refer to the town in which they stand as the birthplace of baseball.

Abner Doubleday should be a famous historical figure, but it should be because he was a decorated war hero during the Civil War. But, outside of History majors, if you say Abner Doubleday to an average person, the response will be either “never heard of him” or “he’s the guy that invented baseball.”

Again, the business application is obvious. Verify. 

24-year-old Carson King shot to fame when he appeared on ESPN’s “College GameDay” program earlier this month, holding a sign that said “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” with his Venmo username. Donations poured in, and after buying one case of Busch Light, he said he decided to send the rest of money to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Anheuser-Busch and Venmo promised to match whatever King could raise. In now-deleted tweets, Busch Beer promised to send King, dubbed the “Iowa Legend,” a year’s supply of beer cans with his face and name on them.

However, Anheuser-Busch announced it would no longer associate with King after he admitted posting two offensive tweets in 2012 when he was a 16-year-old high school student. No rush to investigate, only a rush to judge and condemn.

Anheuser-Busch spokesperson Matt Kohan told CNN on Wednesday that the company would still donate more than $350,000 to the hospital as promised, but it had rescinded its beer offer. Instead, it will add the value of the year’s supply to its donation. King said a Des Moines Register reporter, Aaron Calvin, pointed out the tweets while interviewing King for a profile, which prompted him to hold a press conference Tuesday before the paper’s story was published.

But the readers turned on the Des Moines Register. They posted comments on Twitter questioning why the paper had dug so far into King’s life, surfacing questionable tweets from when he was a teenager. Then people on Twitter began sharing past offensive tweets by Calvin, including a racial slur against black people, while others made derogatory comments against gay people, same-sex marriage and women. The reporter is no longer with the publication after readers revealed his own controversial social media posts.

I hope I have convinced you that more than anything else, our greatest need in America is critical thinking. Talk to people different than you and listen to their personal experiences. See a sensational headline? Don’t hit “share” until you have verified it with at least 2-3 outside sources. And most importantly – just because you saw it on your favorite TV station doesn’t mean it’s true!

THINK FOR YOURSELF!

Hopefully this writing gets you to thinking and make changes if necessary. If it’s helpful, and you could use a writer for your business venture, contact us.

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