A few weeks ago, my sister sent me a text saying, ‘OMG Bradley Cooper and Amy Schumer are engaged, WTF”. These types of messages come through to people on a daily basis through social media, face-to-face engagement, personal conversation, and more. And what did I do with this? I did absolutely no research on the topic for two reasons: The first reason is that the fact makes sense, as they’re both beautiful. Second, I really didn’t care. Why should I care about two celebrities and their love lives? I’d like to think that most of us have more important things to give attention to in our busy lives. And then I was with some coworkers discussing celebrity gossip – like most people with nothing else in common do – and I dropped that “fact” about the two being engaged. The first comment to my statement was, ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’, from one of the people I was with. Their doubt led me to look into it, and it didn’t take more than five minutes to figure out that Bradley Cooper and Amy Schumer weren’t engaged. At this point I realized that I have to stop listening to what everybody says about the source of truth, in turn creating the habit of fact checking the majority of stuff that I hear.
How often do your sentences start with the words “I heard…” or “They say….?” Although your answer to this may be not very often, this probably comes from the fact that the phrases are now habitual. Listen to yourself over the next week and try to catch yourself saying these in conversation. It isn’t until I am challenged by people such as my coworkers that I realize how often I start a story with these two phrases. Facebook is a compilation of the most famous ‘They Say…” stories from all over. People share videos, pictures, and opinion pieces about current events as if they are fact. If you’ve seen the image below, you know what I’m talking about. People see (or hear) something and then repeat it as if it were fact, then X amount of people see (or hear) it from them and the information spreads. Be cautious with what you believe from other people, especially on social media outlets.
I challenge you to stop using these awful words and cite your sources instead. Bibliographies were always my least favorite part of a research paper, but it is easy to see why it’s such an important section. Let us test this really quick; you’re eating breakfast with your family when your dad reaches for that fifth piece of bacon. Which of the two sentences below sounds stronger?
“They say that meat causes cancer, you shouldn’t eat that.”
“World Health Organization found that eating four strips of bacon a day can increase your risks of getting colorectal cancer by 18%”
Honestly, no one wants to hear either of these sentences. But the latter of the two is a stronger, more believable statement. Make it a resolution if you want, but make it an effort to use the phrase “They say” less and cite your sources more. If you’re not sure if something is true, do your research. This makes you more educated in conversation with close friends, family members, and the general public, in turn causing the entire world to be a more educated and better place.