Get the facts before jumping to conclusions

One person’s opinion isn’t necessarily the entire story

I’ve spent virtually my entire life working in journalism, and that has certainly had an affect on me: I don’t believe everything I’m told, especially large, international media.

Now I’m not one of those “fake news” people, so let me explain. A few years ago, for example, former U.S. president Barak Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize and, if like me, you wondered what he did to deserve the peace prize, journalists told us that “he was given the prize because he’s probably going to do something important in his presidency.” Mind you, they gave Yasser Arafat the peace prize, and this is a man who blew up women and children.

Not only am I skeptical of things like that, I am very skeptical of what is referred to as a “testimonial,” or “anecdotal evidence.” Essentially, both of these things are a recounting of a personal experience, or a personal opinion. As I’ve noted above, the personal opinion that Obama or Arafat earned the Nobel Peace Prize could very easily be refuted. Lots of other anecdotes and testimonials could be just as easily refuted.

A good example of what I’m talking about occurred while I was working in Fort Macleod about 25 years ago. I was at the office plunking away on my keyboard when a friend of mine in the RCMP dropped by. He asked if I was busy, and I said no, not really. He asked if I could come with him to a motor vehicle collision on Hwy. #3 and take statements for him.

He told me there were no other RCMP available to help and he wanted to speak to everyone as quickly as possible while their memories were fresh. I said yes, of course I would help.

When we got to the collision scene, pieces and chunks of a holiday trailer were strewn across the highway, a pick-up truck was parked on the right-hand side of the highway with damage to both sides of its body and the back bumper and end gate area twisted like licorice and there were a few vehicles on the left-hand shoulder that suffered some minor body damage.

There were also a few undamaged vehicles parked further back, eyewitnesses who were behind the collision and witnessed it.

My police friend spoke to the pick-up truck driver, who’d been hauling a trailer, along with two other vehicle owners, which the pick-up truck had struck. It seems the pick-up started to vibrate strangely, then the hitch twisted and the trailer went sideways and literally disintegrated at highway speed, striking two other nearby vehicles (note: on multi-lane highways, don’t sit right beside someone else, you have no idea what’s going to come off their vehicle and strike you).

I interviewed the two eyewitnesses. The first person told me they felt the pick-up truck driving was speeding, then they saw the truck go out of control and the trailer come apart, striking the nearby vehicles. So it seemed like the pick-up driver was totally at fault.

Then I spoke to the second eyewitness, who was right behind the pick-up. They said a large deer came of the ditch at full speed, striking the passenger side of the pick-up near the front tire, making the vehicle shimmy and go out of control. It turned out the deer’s body was in the ditch where it went unnoticed.

It was a very good lesson for me to keep in mind: talk to everyone, and don’t just jump to conclusions.

A good lesson that some Nobel Prize people could have heeded before they started handing the prize out like Halloween candy.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

CP Holiday Train cancelled this year; virtual concert to be held in lieu of event

Canadian Pacific will still donate to local food banks in its network and host a virtual concert.

Local author up for publishing award

Lori Gurnette is nominated for the Author Elite Awards in the fantasy category for her YA novel.

Two Wetaskiwin locals walk 376 km for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Gary Mason and Tracey Paluck walked from the Saskatchewan border all the way to the B.C. border.

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

First annual Best of Wetaskiwin Readers’ Choice Awards

Enter to win a $200 gift card for Canadian Tire.

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Most Read