Keeping in mind that the internet is a relatively new invention for us. People are constantly becoming more and more connected and sharing information at a pace never before seen on Earth. But in a billboard-like way, news articles are trying to get attention anyway possible. Social Networking sites like Facebook do not help by condensing facts and stories down to a few sentences. The connectivity of the world and the need for quick and easy information has finally accumulated to a new type of propaganda – and we are finally fighting back.
It seems most have heard about fact checking articles and people in the 2016 presidential debate when Hillary Clinton imitated a crow and barking, “fact checkers!” every 5 minutes. And although we need to fact check everything, many use “fact check” as an argument – because no one will fact check it. It is far too hard to continuously fact check and research statements and studies. How would one know if they can even trust a new article anymore? There was a journalist who, when asked why he became a journalist, responded, “So I don’t have to rely on others for news”. A good response – but the average person does not have time to fact check, research, interpenetrate, and respond – until now!
There are plenty of fact checking sites that have always been around, but with the recent fake news, has been becoming more and more popular. because fake news articles have a propaganda-esc feel to them, the respond to clicks and clicks are because of fear and anger. Such has happened last week when Edgar Maddison opened gun fire at a Comet Ping Pong pizzaaria because of a fake news article. (1) Yes, people actually died! What was the fake article? It’s called Pizzagate (2).Pizzagate alledges that there are a number of pizzarias in Washington D.C. that are secretly a part of a child sex ring. The sex ring is used by big-wig Democrats and apparently set up by Hillary Clinton herself. The fake news has already been debunked by multiple organizations – but if one simple used a second of critical thinking, you too could debunk it.
I appeal to the fair mindedness of my readers and assume little credulity. But, with social networking, one comes across plenty of brain-rotting articles that you know are false but need some links to prove it. Here are my favorite fact-checking sites. A fact is the strongest weapon against our gullible comrades.
Founded in 1995, snopes.com handles the most common myths as well as social media myths. The way it works is that people send in rumors or myths and the team there researches it. The result is a concise and fact-heavy article with a clear True/ False/ or Nor Verifiable
Factcheck.org is a project created by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. This site focuses around claims made by politicians, their speeches, and even TV ads. Their goal is to “apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding”
Politifact is an older but an increasingly popular site which won the Pulitzer Prize for researching 750 claims during the 2008 election. This site fact checks almost any political claims from politicians to advocacy groups. The results of their research results in a Truth-O-Meter rating that reads Truth, Mostly true, half True, False, and Pants on Fire.
But the best source is your own brain! Of course, these fake articles and myths appeal to our human flaws, but there is a tool you can use to investigate any claim and get a feel for its accuracy. It is called the Baloney Detection Kit: A 10-point checklist used by truth seeking organizations such as the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Skeptic Magazine, and even the Daily Skeptic Blog! The check list, as shared by Skeptic Society found, Michael Shermer, is as follows:
Baloney Detection Kit
- How reliable is the source of the claim?
- Does the source make similar claims?
- Have the claims been verified by someone else?
- Does this fit with the way the world works?
- Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
- Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
- Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
- Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
- Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
- Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
The sharper minds already have examples in mind that could be debunked by this checklist – maybe Scientology, near-death experiences, luck, pseudoscience, or anything on Facebook to name a few. The point is, humans always have had to hear stories or myths and determine True or False on their own. The only difference now is that we hear and read stories on such a massive scale, it is hard to sift through it all. Most probably don’t want to investigate every claim they hear anyways — and with these new tools, they don’t have to.