Multisourcing in a Confusing World

When I check the weather, I don’t just go to a favorite site like I did a few years ago. I check 3-4 different reports, and I check reports from Spokane, 9-mile, West Plains and Ford.

Part of why I do that is because where I live isn’t anywhere near a reporting station, but I think there is a larger force at work.

Because I also do this for other things.

I do it because multiple sources help reveal the ‘truth’ of lots of things. If you look at one half-asleep weather report it might be way off and you are stuck. But if you look at 3-4 and they don’t agree, you can dig a little deeper. When you have to drive 50 miles one-way a couple of times a week, you care about the weather. Especially when it involves snow or freezing rain. Checking multiple sites helps reveal the ‘truth’ about the predicted weather.

I’m not a newshound, but I’m of an age where I prefer to be informed, so I check the news. If I want the front page news, I use MSN for convenience but I don’t really trust those guys. I trust them to tell me what’s hot, but not to tell me why. So if anything registers, I go find the original source (it’s usually at the top of the story) and make sure I’m getting the story straight.

To balance my news input, I bookmarked links to 20 main websites plus a folder of archived crap from the past — stories I wrote about, stuff that might come up later, etc. It’s my balance-file, so to speak.

I don’t go to any of ’em often, and some of them I might only click a couple of times a year. But I’ll use partisan outlets to gage spin, nonpartison outlets to determine facts, etc. The goal, usually, is to make sure I understand it myself.

The balance of available news outlets gives me a fighting chance of finding the ‘truth’ of the news.

For shopping, I check the weekly flyers for all the stores I go to for deals. If I don’t find any, I go to Winco or Walmart. I used to be more active about it — only buying stuff on sale — but I’m old and lazy now, and we have Winco and Walmart.

So I don’t obsess anymore. But checking multiple sources gets me to the ‘truth’ of what things cost.

I think if I looked around, I’d find a lot of other things like that. I’ve been multisourcing shopping for decades, but the other things are fairly new, and specific to two* related phenomena:

1. The Internet makes finding things out incredibly easy.

2. The Internet makes lying incredibly easy.

If we don’t take advantage of (1), guess what? We get plowed under by (2). That was how Donald Trump won the 2016 election, and it’s why partisanship is so out of control right now.

We all could benefit from multisourcing. And I dream of a day, hopefully in my lifetime, when multisourcing becomes the norm, and we all pretty much automatically source for factuality, for confirmation bias AND for opposing views. We need to; the internet isn’t going away. Otherwise, we’ll be suckers for every salesman who wants to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge.

* There’s a third related phenomenon, an old one: even honest people sometimes talk out their asses, because it’s easier to be sure than to be right. But that’s for another piece

2 thoughts on “Multisourcing in a Confusing World

  1. That was how Donald Trump won the 2016 election, and it’s why partisanship is so out of control right now.

    Believe it or not the part after the “and” is more dangerous for this country then the part before.

    1. Oh, 100 percent agree. Trump’s election was a symptom. Partisanship is the disease.

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