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It is important to understand that what someone says about what someone may have said may be incomplete or wrong. There are many ways the information can become incomplete or misunderstood. Understanding this can help to prevent thinking that what someone says is always true. This can help you towards what is needed to find out the truth. The way to find out the truth is to ask the original source of the information. Otherwise, you may be more mindful towards realizing the hearsay may be incorrect.


Did you ever play the game "telephone" (wikipedia) in your school classroom? It's a simple example of how an original true statement (from "Person 1") can end up being so much different than when it was first said, after being whispered to other people. In social situations, there are so many combinations where one person passes on information about interactions between one or more other people.

In one common example (illustrated below), "Person 1" and "Person 2" had many conversations between the two of them, in private (depicted by the box around the two of them). In this illustration, "Person 1" represents a wife and "Person 2" is the husband.

Now maybe "Person 3" talks to "Person 1" about some of the interactions between both "Person 1" and "Person 2" to support "Person 1."

In this example, there are several things to point out:

  • "Person 3" cannot know everything that was said or thought between 1 and 2.
  • If "Person 3" tells you or anyone else about the relationship between 1 and 2, its hearsay, so be careful to realize that it may not be correct, accurate, or complete.
  • Don't forget "Person 3" has their own view ( ) on a topic. Remember that everyone wears their own set of glasses ( ), so their "glasses" are limited, and may be "dirty" or "foggy." "Person 3" could provide distorted, false, or missing information. So if "Person 3" tells you something about "Person 1", or what "Person 1" said to "Person 2", the only way to know it is true is to ask "Person 1." Asking "Person 1" follows an old saying that you are getting the information "Straight from the horse's mouth" (phrases.org.uk).

In the previous example, we used a situation directly involving people. It's also important to be mindful that when media talks about other people, a lot of it is considered hearsay, so what you hear may or may not be true.

Google defines hearsay (google) as:

  • Information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor.
  • The report of another person's words by a witness, usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.

See also: hearsay (wikipedia)

Thank YOU for reading this!

By David M

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This page updated 01/05/20 02:54 PM