However, what if every piece was smoother or did not have some piece of the picture on it, how would you place it? Would you know where the pieces go, or have any idea what the puzzle was? More likely than not you would not be able to solve it. However, you might have a guess of what the picture is based on the pieces you do have, but would that guess be right?
Instead of jigsaw puzzles, let’s look at reality and look at the media and different reports that come out. In government, everything for the most part is initially classified. Classified documents are classified at various levels for our protection. The most classified information is highly protected. Over time a lot of classified documents are released, or even some classified information is leaked to create a story. Think Watergate, or even Snowden. However, most leaks are only showing a piece of the information.
Yet these pieces are then made into whole stories and conjecture and taken as fact. Although the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, allows us to get access to government documents, it is restricted to only de-classified documents, or if you get classified documents, you would get a heavily redacted document. This is what of news stories are based on. Think back to the jigsaw puzzle with missing piece, no box picture, and the same repeated pieces that are non-descript, and you have the same situation. Non-descript, missing information, but you make a guess of what the information represents. But more than likely your guess is clouded by your experience and by your knowledge and biases. The biases may cloud all views and may shape how you see those pieces, but might not be the right picture. That is what you get when you take bits and pieces of classified information and then disseminate them without all the different pieces that normally go with them.
When listening to the different news stories, especially when they say based on a source, ask yourself, what information is missing. While inferences can be made, and are made by journalists, pundits, and alike, when a news story is presented all the relevant facts need to be presented, so you can build the jigsaw picture, however, too often than most, you are only getting five pieces of a 200-piece puzzle, and the remaining pieces are being filled in by someone’s opinion. Instead of allowing that, ask what is missing here, what more information is needed and what questions do I have about this story?