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We’ve written before about fake and other clearly unsubstantiated memes, posts, and stories being shared on social media by auctioneers. In fact, I note a recent share that essentially said,

Facebook and Twitter block it, Google “hides” it, YouTube bans it, the government [mostly] denies it and the media largely labels it as a conspiracy theory … then it must be true.

Do we as auctioneers have no skepticism? On the contrary, we do but we selectively use it. A seller calls us about selling an “original never-used civil war rifle” and we immediately think, “It probably isn’t … let me see it, inspect it …” while you think it’s highly likely not as described.

The rifle arrives a few hours later to your offices, and sure enough, it’s not an “original never-used civil war rifle” but a replica probably made about six months ago. Your skepticism proved prudent — even though you desperately wanted this to be an original rifle.

Of course, you could have taken the seller’s word for it, and gone ahead and advertised it all over Facebook and other social media sites. As well, your friends would share it too as they would believe since you shared it, it must be true and they want it to be true also.

Unfortunately, it appears in this latter example, where you don’t do your own inspection nor research, and advertise this rifle, even if a civil war rifle expert notes on your post it is not genuine, you would respond that there are other rifles out there being mischaracterized, suggesting if they can misrepresent, it’s perfectly fine that you are careless.

This complete (selective) abandonment of skepticism seems to otherwise involve politics where any news we want to be true must be, and any news we don’t want to be true can’t be. In other words, if politics was this original never-used civil war rifle it would have to be the real thing because you wanted it to be, even if in reality it wasn’t.

We as auctioneers are in the public domain — known in our communities, largely respected and trusted … and if we want to continue in that role, I would suggest we need to be far more careful — skeptical — with at least with what we share, retweet, etc., and apply our otherwise finely tuned skepticism to more of what we do.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.