“FDA Declares Processed Meat Unsuitable for Human Consumption” screamed one headline I came across in my Facebook feed mid-June. It was clearly crafted to grab attention, and it certainly grabbed mine. As someone who enjoys eating bacon and lunchmeat sandwiches, I was startled to learn that these foods were apparently going to kill me.
“Finally Someone Asked Him The Question!” shouted a shared Facebook post this week. It proceeded to inform me that when President Obama was asked if his family would be buying their health insurance through the marketplaces that opened Tuesday, he responded with “stony silence” and “chose not to answer it.”
It went on to describe how our corrupt Congress has exempted itself from “the new healthcare reform” and that we should “only accept a universal health care overhaul that extends to everyone.” (By the way, that entire post was in all-caps, so you know it means business.)
I'm grateful to my health-conscious and politically active friends for sharing these items, but not because they contained information I needed to know. In fact, several minutes of research and fact-checking revealed a very different picture that the ones these items painted.
In the case of processed meats, a review of the writer's listed sources revealed that the inflammatory headline was entirely unfounded. As for Congress being exempt from the Affordable Care Act, a quick Google search and a basic knowledge of the act revealed that since members of Congress are insured through the government, they're already complying with the law, which only requires that everyone have insurance, not that everyone buy it through the insurance marketplace.
No, the reason I'm grateful to my friends is that through my research, I learned about some real problems with food and Obamacare.
Several studies indicate that eating processed meats could increase the risk of getting certain cancers, and Obamacare has had all kinds of unintended consequences (though what they are seems to depend on who you ask).
Thanks to my research, I discovered real problems in the world around me that need to be addressed, and I thank my friends for indirectly bringing them to my attention.
But here's the thing-how many people have taken the time to do the research and find the real problems? I spent a good 30 or 40 minutes looking into each of these items because I happened to have 30 or 40 minutes to spare and enjoy that kind of thing. I know that everyone doesn't share that kind of time and interest.
The fact is, the people who write these kinds of articles and posts are spreading misinformation, exaggerating and misconstruing facts and events to rally their audiences around nonexistent or overblown problems.
Are there problems to be addressed with food and nutrition? Of course. Too many people are overweight or obese. Fast food isn't good for you. These are things that should be addressed.
Page 2 of 2 - Are there problems with the Affordable Care Act? Of course. I've already mentioned the unintended consequences, and there's a legitimate debate about whether Congress should have their marketplace plans subsidized in ways other Americans won't.
I imagine these are issues these people want to see addressed, and I respect and support that. But there's a big difference between “might increase your risk of cancer” and “definitely going to kill you,” and there's a big difference between the real problem of layoffs and the not-so-real problem of Congress being totally exempt from Obamacare. And when you spend your time publicizing the non-issues, only the diligent researchers will dig through the clutter to find the issues that should be dealt with.
If you want to fix something, tell people why it should be fixed. Don't make stuff up just to get attention. Otherwise, the real issues will get buried in falsehood and exaggeration.