How do you tell fact from fiction?

I believe our greatest challenge is cultivating the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is represented as real. As Guy Debord elegentaly pointed out, we inhabit a reality primarily shaped by images and spectacle.

It is useful to keep in mind that most of what connects us to the rest of the contemporary world consists of symbols, narratives and images and is not our direct experience. We explore and connect with a reality through different media (tv, internet, newspapers, books etc.) that offer a representation of events we may never be able to confirm as true or untrue. Every narrative stands for somebody else’s point of view, not necessary objective or truthful, yet powerful enough to shape our views and responses to events in alarmingly definitive and decisive way.

Is it strange then to want to take a break from the endless stream of news, of what we’re told is relevant and of utmost importance to us? It is even more uncomfortable to sit still in the eye of the hurricane and ask ourselves: how do I know for sure that what I’m being told/shown is actually true?

This is a tricky question. It might lead to a fundamental change in how we interact with information, people and ideas. It might suddenly reveal that much of what we consider an indisputable fact, is in fact (pun intended), somebody’s opinion, broadcast loudly and repeated incessantly until it feels like truth. Yet it is but a theory, a hypothesis, a perspective that we somehow have adopted and built a worldview upon it.

Question: What is your method of telling fact from fiction?

Call to action: Make it a habit to examine your beliefs and assumptions. Ask yourself whether you're simply re-stating what you've been told. The simple fact that the majority accepts something as true, does not make it true....., and we way too often tend to give in to the opinion of majority.


This post is part of a series of short musings on topics inspired by the past 14 years of living as an expat in the Netherlands. Some of the posts may be revised or expanded into full essays. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my work. It is my hope that it keeps adding valuable insights to your life. If it does, feel free to subscribe for new content and share it with others.