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I check with others, who have different varying experiences, to form opinions about unknown topics. This can either be achieved through gossip, or actual presentation of evidence and arguments. The two tend to get mixed together to some degree.
The only way to quickly figure out if information may be true is by using Logic. However, the language of Logic is not as popular as it is useful. This means most people do not verify the gossip they hear, in any methodical way.
|I LOL'd :D|
Knowing this, many people take it on themselves to "inform" the public, regularly. Politicians, news-spokesmen, media representatives, and so on. All of them make a salary from passing on gossip to people, which more often than not is unverified and false.
Also, due to the ease of access and vagueness of information, their followers become dependent. Those public speakers become their daily source of information and social entertainment. Their window to the world, so to speak.
There is only one way to avoid false reports and useless gossip, so that you make opinions that reflect reality and are helpful to you: Having standards. Well, we all have different standards, so the requirement is high standards.
What do you know about the person speaking?
Would they have incentive to lie?
Do they verify their own sources of information?
Are you being told about research that is financed by a group with a particular interest?
Research financed by tobacco companies, showing no-correlation between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, is not a surprise. News channels censoring any incriminating items about their sponsors, or anyone related to their funding, is again not a surprise. Even medical companies sponsoring dangerous pills that cause more harm than help, when it comes to the wide public, is only economically expected.
So, doubt both the person and the information they speak. Ask questions, and see if there is any resistance to providing evidence. Look for falsifiable arguments and statements, and see if they are actually being supported by the evidence.