Handle the Argument: The 4-5 Source Check

So you have just had somebody tell you a political “fact” or a statistic (according to them). They have heard it from somewhere, believe it, and now are passing it along to you. This is a rental in the truest sense of the meaning.

This could turn into the traditional argument, but then you tell them “I hear ya, but I’ll have to run it by a 4-5 source check”. This can provide pause and change the course of the conversation completely.

What it is

The 4-5 source check is when you take a statement and don’t accept any validity to it until it is run by other material. Typically, it will take 4-5 different sources to determine if there is at least an element of consistency in the statement. Of course, being right doesn’t exist and neither does 100% accuracy. However, if you just wanted to call BS on somebody, this is a good way to go about it. Getting a small sample size of more views can make or break the validity of the statement rather easily.

When these checks are run, the rule is “print first, then internet”. Printed material like a dictionary or almanac are manufactured, sold, and cannot be changed. Websites can be changed in a matter of seconds. We cannot rule out that our information is changed constantly to steer people in a certain direction on the internet, especially if it involves politics. So if you can find information in print, always start there.

In The Upward Politics Project, we never accept anything 100% because of the vast amount of material that is still out there. With things like “facts and statistics” we can’t accept those either, but will look into it later. It’s like we’re going to 4-5 different doctors for a second opinion about a serious disease. But even after the check, we still can’t accept anything as being right.

Application in political arguments

When somebody approaches me with something they think is definitive, I always ask how that idea got in their noggin. What was the origin? An article? A news program? Reason being, is that I need to know that source when I go and check 4-5 others on the same topic. I’ll read or listen to the original, then run the check.

Some people will get annoyed with this, but I just let them know that there are far more viewpoints that exist on the same topic. What am I going to do? Believe them right off the bat? Get angry off of one person’s point of view or very possible faulty statistic? Not worth it. I would rather use this opportunity to obtain more information.


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