Being informed about a topic is sometimes not easy to do, and I think that is why many spend their time being uninformed, truly uninformed, about a wide variety of topics because it’s the easy way to do something.

This is because to be informed you have to take more than a passing glance at a newspaper headline, a talking head on network news, or a glance at someone’s Facebook post for meme. You actually have to read and research on a topic to get the “real” information, not something that someone assumed or is speculating about.

Take for example the recent news that Kalitta Air was hired to transport individuals back to the United States from China with the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Many in the community contacted me asking for news coverage on the topic because not only were they impressed with the government’s response on getting our citizens out of a potentially dangerous situation, but they were extremely proud that a hometown company was being utilized for the effort. 

I’m proud of them and feel the public should also be proud of the company. It’s pretty gratifying knowing that the hard work taking place in Oscoda by Kalitta employees is having an impact on world issues.

There were more than a few people who even sent me pictures of their television screens showing a Kalitta Air Boeing 747 on a taxiway, recently landing in the United States, from its trip to China.

It was no secret that the company was being utilized to do some important work, but those who were not informed about the situation came up with some wild and inaccurate assumptions by themselves without doing research.

There is an old saying, one that I will not put in this column about “assuming” things, and how it can make a person look foolish. One of the things that was being assumed about the aircraft, and being disseminated on sites like Facebook by locals without any actual knowledge about the situation, was that cargo planes cannot carry passengers. Therefore, by that logic, it only stands to reason that the cargo aircraft were transporting caskets from China.

Much like the saying about “assuming” things, I will not put some of the more outlandish rumors about the flights in this column. The upshot of all this is with a little research, and not just looking at someone’s wild speculation or assumption on Facebook, one can discover that not only can cargo aircraft be retrofitted with passenger cargo space, allowing for people to fly in the aircraft, but there was actual video proof of the flights.

In one video taken by one of the passengers, the layout is even shown, complete with all the passengers sitting in their seats and care workers making the rounds to assure that the virus – if on the aircraft – did not spread to the general population once it got back to the mainland United States.

This took about five minutes of searching on the Internet looking at various sources, including news reports about the flights and boring web pages talking about how cargo aircraft can be retrofitted to do a lot of stuff.  Why that individual would assume such a thing about the aircraft, and then choose to post their wild speculation on Facebook for literally millions of people to read and take as whole cloth, is beyond me.

It’s like screaming, “Fire!” into a crowded theater, but in this case you cannot get penalized for it.  That is why it is important to take into consideration the source you get your information from. 

In this case if the person stating information about cargo planes this was an aircraft mechanic of 35 years, who knew a cargo plane like the back of his hand, you may believe him, over some random dude just posting it on the Internet. 

Even people who look up news stories and read them come up with bad information that is spread. An example of this are people who skim the headlines and then assume the entire story is the upshot of 10 or so words that are used to make a summary – an incomplete summary – of a story that is actually 800 words long.

It’s not a bad thing to learn about stuff on Facebook and social media, but you owe it to yourself as an informed citizen to be skeptical of what is posted on such sites and do your own research to be more informed and to know whether what you are actually reading is some facts, or a load of horse manure, which is only good to be spread in your garden, not over the Internet.

After all, if you get caught spreading stuff that is disprovable, you may end up looking like that aforementioned horse’s distant cousin.