Finding the truth has always been difficult, yet it is human nature. We are innately wired to determine the truth and hold onto it for as long as possible, for a simple reason. It's not possible to survive if the physical and social world is constantly changing. Your subconscious requires it, even if you don't recognize it. You can't "wish" away the effect of your subconscious, make no mistake, it is in the driver seat. So, be careful about what you believe. Rhetoric and hyperbole cause problems by this simple fact of human nature. Read about the history of rhetoric on Wikipedia, you'll see how similar the politics of today are to ancient times. With the manipulative nature of politics and control over the populace in Roman society, it's no wonder ancient scholars spent so much effort to understand logic and reasoning as precisely as possible.

In a rapidly changing world and the need for truth, humans must take shortcuts to determine truth quickly. When this is not possible, the subconscious adds the filter of cognitive bias to keep you from going "insane". You might notice a good night's sleep provides a fresh view of the world. It's possible this fresh view is the installation of cognitive bias, instead of true understanding. If you really want to eliminate cognitive bias, you must obtain data and analyze it properly, or find someone who can.

In today's world, data is coming in from all sides, disguising itself as information. Furthermore, relying on someone with influence based on status hides true knowledge and wisdom. It is difficult to find a source of information, knowledge in wisdom among tweets and Facebook posts. By definition, these platforms only provide data masquerading as information. Turning data into information requires testing the validity of data before using it to create information. This is the essential first step in any data analysis methodology, yet surprisingly, it is skipped by analysts.

What is the difference between data and information? What is knowledge and wisdom? These subjects can be studied for a lifetime, but I like how this article explains it: The Difference between Data, Information and Knowledge.

Ironically, advances in artificial intelligence (AI), specifically, Machine Learning (AIs), make it possible to create information from data with unprecedented accuracy very quickly. But only after the computer has been "trained", which is sort of cheating. Basically, any machine learning "algorithm", requires a "source of truth" - which is a "trained data set". It can also only tell you if "A" is related to "B" with some confidence. You decide if the level of confidence is enough to convince you the computer is "right". Properly trained AIs can give truthful answers in narrow fields surprising quickly and high confidence. But deciphering rhetoric and hyperbole to find truth remains a human task.

It would be nice to have a computer program which can turn hyperbole (a specific form of rhetoric), into truth. Maybe someday. For now, you must determine truth for yourself. If you are fortunate to have someone who is wise in your world, making sense of today's world can be easier. Even so, wisdom relies on data, without it, even a wise man cannot provide truth.

A wise man can extrapolate a possible truth by looking at a bunch of data, even if it is rhetoric and apply certain principles to infer truth. Same goes for predicting behavior. For instance, it is not a surprise that rioting occurs when people feel oppressed, unfairly treated or out of control. Severe police action that goes unchecked during a time of uncertainty among a populace of un/underemployed causes public unrest.

Mob mentality, a type of herd mentality, is the result of the most people affected taking visible action that others wish they could take. When others identify with the cause of the violence, they are incited to become violent themselves. One angry person becomes 10 angry people. 10 angry people become 100. 100 becomes 10,000 and so on. Civilized people become uncivilized, when surrounded by others performing uncivilized acts. Any person, civil or not, will protect themselves when confronted with a threatening action. If flight is not possible, every human will fight.

I wish I had a quick and easy solution to these problems I could teach. I do not. I choose to do research and only form believes based on trusted sources. I hope understanding how your beliefs are formed may help you find your own way to believe truth vs. lies or distortions.

While researching this topic, I've found articles in The Atlantic helpful. A specific example of information vs. data, with lots of references, is found in an article in the Atlantic, How to Talk About the Corona Virus.

The Atlantic provides a few articles for free, but you'll need to subscribe for $1/week to do real research on the site.

The history of rhetoric and related subjects on Wikipedia are useful as well, see: rhetoric and hyperbole.

I for one was surprised at how American politics and social media has made our society closer to Roman society now than just a few years ago. We have a chance to learn from history. Will we take it?