Truth, facts can be hard to find

Over the past year I have read many letters to this paper written by Ray Shamlin. The themes are always the same- serious accusations of illegal and unethical behaviors and actions made against various Democrats and effusive praise and credit for the current occupant of the Oval Office.

On many occasions I have asked Mr. Shamlin to provide evidence for his outrageous claims. He has consistently refused to do so, although he repeatedly claims to have such proof in his possession.

After his latest diatribe, I once again asked him to prove his statements by providing sources to document his various claims. He provided a rather extensive list on the Bladen Journal’s online site.

The list included links to several YouTube videos, links to various online newspapers and magazines including the New York Post and U.S. News and World Report, and links to several internet sites such as Breitbart, Quora, Free Republic, and Match Doctor.

YouTube videos are usually submitted by anonymous sources and are often dishonestly edited in a cut-and-paste fashion. Anyone can submit a video to the site and there is no way to verify the accuracy without other sources. Opinion columns from newspapers and magazines are one person’s biased opinion and are not fact. Internet discussion forums like Free Republic are dominated by partisan activists and are not news sources. Quora is a site where anonymous people submit question, answers, and opinions that are not verified for truth or accuracy. Match Doctor is an Internet dating forum. Breitbart is a far-right opinion and commentary site.

If these are the kind of “sources” conservatives like Shamlin are relying on for their information, it is no mystery as to why they are so misinformed and deluded.

As a high school student in the early 1970s, I was fortunate to have Mrs. Carol Lewis as an English teacher for two years. Mrs. Lewis taught the difference between fact and fiction, how to determine the reliability of news sources, to use only credible sources for documentation, and the importance of ethical journalism in our democracy. We wrote college level research papers, and I shudder to think what Mrs. Lewis would have done if we used the kind of “sources” Ray Shamlin depends on for his propaganda. We would have no doubt received a failing grade.

So I offer my thanks to Mrs. Carol Lewis for those two years of invaluable instruction. Because of Mrs. Lewis, my college classes in English, writing, and literature seemed easy. And without her I might be gullible enough to believe Shamlin’s falsehoods.

Patsy Sheppard

Tar Heel