Fake news and fact checking have been in the news lately. Facts checking is a vital part of the job for many people. Recent stories about fake news have highlighted this. Fake news also draws attention to the idea that checking stories for accuracy and truthfulness should be part of our daily lives as well.

Think about this for a moment – what you know to be accurate and true versus opinions and assumptions – and you’ll see that this a one of the classical dilemmas faced by people everywhere. Our survival depends on knowing who or what we can trust, and who or what we can’t. Paradoxically though, in many cases our survival also depends on trusting people and ideas we really shouldn’t.

Critical thinking used to be part of education, but even the best critical thinkers can be deluded, mistaken, or swayed by their needs which override judgement. A large part of any therapist’s workload will be with clients who are doing this. Call it epiphany, insight, or self awareness, breakthroughs often occur when the client ‘sees’ something that is perfectly apparent to those around them.

To prevent this becoming into an essay, I’ll just say that checking facts starts with us, at home and inside ourselves. It’s about personal integrity and honesty. Before we criticise others for peddling falsehoods, we should check our own habits to see just how much we ‘know’, and how much of our lives are based on convenient or comfortable ideas which have no basis in fact. Long live fake news!

NB: The above is the product of my opinions and I have not inconvenienced myself by following good journalistic practice and fact checking.