Well, Pete, I will say this: you are right to be skeptical, but possibly for the wrong reasons.
The thing is, every single person on Earth has:
- Different interpretations on what they've heard.
- Different motivations as to why they want to pass it along.
- Different methods of communicating.
- A different spin during their communication.
- An audience different than themselves.
Even your parents and friends. Listen to the way they each tell their side of some humorous story some time
The speaker isn't neccesarily trying to fool you, or spread disinformation, or neccesarily even have some alterior motive to telling you something,
but that's still no reason to believe anything anyone tells you. The only way to really get any measure of peace of mind is by looking at all the
facts you can, in as broad a scope as possible.
"[Y]ou've put your finger on a major problem: how does one report facts in an unbiased way when the facts themselves are biased? [...] From the
names of our fallen soldiers, to the gradual withdrawal of our allies, to the growing insurgency, it's become all too clear that facts in Iraq have
an anti-Bush agenda." -- Rob Corddry, dead-panning on The Daily Show
Let's take one example, Israel vs. Palestine. If one bombing occurred, you would get a different story depending on if you listened to Fox News, NPR,
BBC, The White House, Israeli Prime Minister, or the government in Palestine.
Now keep in mind that in America, on TV News, they assume that the audience has an average education to an 8th grader, so they're going to dumb down
everything. They also have a limited amount of time before moving on to the next story. And they want something flashy, to grab the attention of
people. So the story you'll get will look more like a trailer for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie than anything else.
An announcement by the White House will try to be as non-confrontational as possible, and say as little as possible on the subject, while appearing
genuinely sorrowful for the victims of this terrible incident.
NPR, on the other hand, will assume their audience cares a lot more about the subject than they actually do, will tug on the heartstrings, and use a
lot of verbage, foreign music, and interviews dubbed over in English, until two hours pass and they go into the next program.
The Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims will each have a different filter for the bombing, because of issues that happened between the two during a
battle thousands of years ago, and whomever did the bombing will tout it as a victory to their own people, privately, and a trajedy to the victims
publicly. The victim country will decry this as an example of why peace can never be, paint the other side as monsters, and will do the best they can
to pacify a panicked public.
That's a teenie-tiny microcosm of possible interpretations from one single scenario. In actuality there's thousands of speakers, and for every
speaker, there are audiences of thousands or millions who will each take something different away from the same speech.
No one except the bomber will actually know what the full story was, why he/she did it, and what events in history or one's past could bring a human
being to kill so many innocent people. Maybe they were a demon, maybe they were an angel, or maybe they were just plain nuts. Everyone will have their
opinion, their spin, and their say.
So, in summation: always remain skeptical of anything anyone else says.
(unless it's me, then you should always believe every single word