I just caught myself wondering about the legitimacy of a site that I came across when researching pirates for a story I am writing. I wasn’t familiar with the site, but the advertising immediately made me more comfortable with it. When I saw Best Buy, AT&T, Chase and BMW associated with article I was reading, I figured that the site was probably legit. As I started writing this post, I went back and read the About page of the globalpost and discovered it had a legitimate business, even if I wasn’t familiar with it. Some of my friends had even Facebook "Liked" a global post special report.
As a journalist and researcher, this is not a good approach to understanding legitimacy, but thankfully, I applied metacognition to my approach. I stopped and reflected on what I was doing. I double-checked my input.
Metacognition means thinking about thinking. I started to wonder about how often the appearance of legitimacy is used to trap us into believing something is legitimate? How often do we question what appears on the surface, to be familiar?
Social engineers play on our time-starved senses. They hope that we won’t have the time or the inclination to question something that seems just about right – but rather question ourselves and our questioning of rightness.
Take time today to reflect on how you see the world. Ask yourself if your perceptions about (something) really are correct, or if you just didn’t find the time to question your perceptions before, assuming, rather than knowing, something is legitimate.