A person on their smartphone

Above: A person checking their smartphone. Credit: Bruce Mars.


Surely the single most empowering positive benefit of the smartphone revolution is the ability (in the liberal West at least) to instantly fact-check any statement that one hears, is told, or reads.

If I hear a dubious fact or stat (anywhere at all, including during a bar-room conversation) I can begin to interrogate its veracity. I use the Internet connection of my smartphone to search for confirmation of the statement. I seek to find the fact cross-checked and corroborated on a reliable-source website. If I cannot corroborate it immediately, I can also follow up later.

Instant checkability of facts is a powerful resource as it typically defeats propagandists, fearmongers, disinformationists, misinformationists and the like. It also saves the time that was once wasted in disputatious conversations based around a fallacy or a myth.

Facts can be surprising sometimes, but that does not delimit their being a fact. Like the fact that the population of the USA makes up 4% of Earth's population. Or the fact that 12% of the population of the USA (approximately 39 million persons) are of black (non-Hispanic) ethnicity.

(26 December 2018)