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The Truth is Out There... Somewhere

We live in a fantastic age, so much information is available at our fingertips completely free.  Between research papers, podcasts,social media pages and good old Google we can find out about almost anything.  There are a few people whom I follow online purely becauseof the research papers they share (some of which are their own, some other respected people in their field).  

There are three problems with this though.  Firstly, this means anyone with an agenda or overtly biased point of view is given a platform (see Cowspiracy, or more recently, What The Health). Unfortunately these viewpoints are often presented as factual using research papers to support their confirmation bias* and when a lie is told often enough it becomes the truth.  The solution? Be wary of anything sensationalist or extreme in its claims.  If you have a certain point of view on something and you are looking for confirmation of it, don’t just seek out a read pieces that support your point of view, find counter arguments and keep an open mind.

Secondly,and this is where you need to strike a balance with point one, the more you read the more you become susceptible to ‘paralysis by analysis’.  Essentially reading too many conflicting viewpoints on a single subject can lead to confusion and having no idea how to take things forward.  There is no easy answer to this one, except to reiterate make sure what you are reading, listening to or watching is at a level you understand. 

Finally there is a BIG difference between reading about something and understanding how to apply it.  One of my favourite sayings is“knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”. Reading and improving your knowledge is great, just make sure you understand if and how it relates to you and don’t blindly recite it and follow it without understanding the why.

*the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses