Intelligent people should ask themselves, every time they see/hear/read something, "How do I know it's real?".

One approach, with which I am uncomfortable with, is that you accept something as real if it is consistent with the beliefs and teachings of your community. This approach is good enough for most people, and an easy, happy approach to live with. This is how you get the reality of most of the happy citizens of the United States of America - and it's the reality of the Religous Right.

Another approach, which I mostly utilize, is one of rational thought. One could call it science. The idea is to try to think about the 'thing' or 'event', and try to figure it out within the confines of a testable or verifiable set of laws and create hypothesis. The main sticking point is the testable part, since for the most part you aren't in the position to design a proper experiment to test your hypothesis. This leads to scientists having to take the word of other scientists on faith. So when it comes down to this, it's really not much better than approach 1 above, with the big exception that you CAN eventually discover if your faith was misplaced, and rectify the situation.

The last approach is one I am becoming more and more enamored with. It utilizes economic competition to do all the experimenting for you. The drawback is that the 'thing' or 'event' has to be one that is testable in this manner. So for instance, telekinesis can't be real, because if it was, someone would have made money using it. And UFOs can't really be real, because it just wouldn't make any economic sense to spend all the resources on flying a ship millions of lightyears to Earth just to mutiliate cattle and make crop circles.

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