Challenging the Facts

I don’t like it when supposed reputable news agencies present something as ‘fact’ when I know that it is definitely not true. When I see this happening, I become very vocal in my condemnation of what has been presented, and frustrated by the fact nothing seems to be done about the misrepresentation.

I get asked ‘why do I get so annoyed by news outlets referring to the Year 2000 as the 21st Century when there are so many more important things to be concerned about’? This statement is usually accompanied by a message to ‘chill’, to not take things so seriously. But it is serious. Misrepresentation of facts in the news media is what has led to the ‘Fake News’ state we now live in.

The latest instance regards the great news of Jadon Sancho’s selection to play for the full England squad. “The first player born in the 21st century to be selected for England’ go the lazy, soundbite headlines, despite Jadon being born in March, 2000.

On the surface it does appear to be a trite issue that I should just let pass, but it actually indicates something more substantially wrong with how information is presented by mass media as facts.

Stating that someone born in the Year 2000 is the first person born in the 21st Century to do anything is plainly wrong. It is as factually wrong as stating ‘Manchester United finished second in the 2017-18 campaign and therefore are the current Premier League champions’.

When the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and adopted by many Christian civilisations, it was decreed that there was no Year Zero. That is, the years would be recorded as progressing 2BC, then 1BC, followed by 1AD, then 2AD and so on. This means that the first century AD ran from 1AD to 100AD. As a consequence the tenth century covers the years 901AD to 1000AD, and the 20th century starts at 1901AD and ends at 2000AD.

The first year of the 21st century, therefore, was 2001AD. So, anyone born in the Year 2000 was born in the 20th Century and not in the twenty-first.

So why does it matter if renowned and respected news and sports organisations declare that a person born in the Year 2000 is the first person born in the 21st century to do something? Well it matters because it is being presented as fact, and being presented to a worldwide audience as fact, which enables it in itself to become an accepted fact.

However, it is obviously not true, and I rile against it because I know it’s not true. What concerns me is when these reputable news agencies with large audiences convey other information as fact, information that I have no way of knowing is fact or not because it is either not my area of specialist knowledge, or it cannot be determined to be false otherwise.

What of everything else that is stated as fact. Can I take it as read that it all must be true in the knowledge that I know something else the news agency stated to be true was in fact false? How can I ever trust anything they say as ‘fact’ when I know some of the things that they present as fact are patently not? It’s impossible. Made worse because they rarely recognise that what they have stated to be true is in fact untrue, especially when it gets pointed out to them by those of us with a much lower audience reach (therefore a lesser, inconsequential voice).

So, you should care if they get it wrong about the Year 2000 referring to it as being part of the 21st century, because if they can be so glib about something that is so obviously not true, how much effort are they putting into other things they state as being fact, things that there is no way of disproving, unless you are a specialist in that area.

So it’s only when you know things that they state are true are patently not, that you can then start challenging everything else they state to be true. And you should challenge, and bellow, and bellow when you know things to be wrong. Otherwise fake news wins!


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