Thursday, April 12, 2018

Learning to Spot Fake News: Start With A Gut Check (NPR)

This National Public Radio article was published in October 2017, but better late than never.

  1. Check for previous work: Look around to see whether someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research. [Some places to look: WikipediaSnopesPolitifact and NPR's own Fact Checkwebsite.]
  2. Go upstream to the source: Most Web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information. Is it a reputable scientific journal? Is there an original news media account from a well-known outlet? If that is not immediately apparent, then move to step 3.
  3. Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  4. Circle back: If you get lost or hit dead ends or find yourself going down a rabbit hole, back up and start over.
Finally, Caulfield argues in his book that one of the most important weapons of fact-checking comes from inside the reader: "When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a 'fact' with others, STOP."
His reasoning: Anything that appeals directly to the "lizard brain" is designed to short-circuit our critical thinking. And these kinds of appeals are very often created by active agents of deception.

Sites For Spotting Lies

Fact-checking sites recommended by the book Web Literacy For Student Fact-Checkers, by Michael Caulfield


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