Nothing fully prepared me for the swift yet significant transformation in my life. The little noise buzzing here and there, and the pages I have read might have played a role but nothing I could boldly say set me up for this.
I am referring to an experience that changed my paradigm, interrogated my dogmatic perceptions, questioned my standards and right before the sights of my rigid views turning what I once held as the ultimate truth into a series of doubts.
The transformer was and still is fact-checking. The assignment is to find the truth by identifying the facts in statements, narratives, and multimedia content. Fact-checking is a simple but difficult undertaking which requires me to shroud my feelings, withhold my emotions, lock away my biases, and to just focus on the facts. This was tricky but once I thought I had excelled in the practice of fact-checking; a new ‘problem’ was born.
Answers turning into questions
Ideas that I once merely held as truth quickly unearthed questions around them. A reasonable thing you could say, but when I found myself analyzing every word my Pastor proclaimed and checking for the fact in every inch of his statement, I knew at that point that I was either in a mess or he was about to fall into one.
While you would be quick to be biased and conclude that my act was a religious sacrilege, the situation did not stop there. Every statement now spoken to me automatically turns into a series of questions that appear to require ‘factful’ answers. For instance, when a respected older relative of mine casually said in a discussion that “Buhari is the 5th oldest President in Africa,” I couldn’t help but change the statement into a question “Is Buhari the 5th oldest President in Africa?” I did not openly question his assertion, but my doubts were loud enough to fit that of a salvo.
I did immediately sort out the answer, and while you have perhaps also resolved to find out Buhari’s age rank among his African equivalents, this singular feat itself is the wonder of fact checking.
DUBAWA: My sole fact-checking foundation
It all started at Dubawa, the journey of a thousand miles that for me did not start with a step but by merely standing up from my seat of comfort. You could say that it was a water changing into wine experience because I had no prior knowledge of fact-checking nor was I aware of its existence.
It took a lot of reading, mentoring, and even some hard self-questioning to get a few of my copies published. I realized earlier on that a claim is the starting point of a fact-check and the body of a fact-check determines whether a claim is true, false, or misleading. Once this was infused into my veins, my eyes became a claim finder, optimizing every social media platform, statement, and speech to find another claim, write on it and get it published on Dubawa.
Some claims are clearly false but my experience at DUBAWA discouraged that notion. A claim is false only if it can be proven; I am not allowed to accrue verdicts on claims not fact-checked.
I am now doubting Thomas, and I am proud to confess this. If asking for proof to a claim is definitive for truth finding then I am a grand doubter, who until he sees the scars to the nail piercings and is convinced of the truth, verified with facts, everything will remain a claim.