Support your favorite fact checker

With the ongoing plague of fabricated news and a new effort to pretend that real news you don’t like is fake, GG would like to encourage all to support non-partisan organizations that actually verify the facts of different claims made by politicians and government officials.  (Support can be monetary for some, simply bookmarking, subscribing or linking for others). Once we lose our grip on reality, the ability of the public to make any kind of an informed choice is gone. Here are a few GG has found helpful because they will usually guide you to the most primary sources for each topic. Sometimes they will parse language differently than you might, but the detailed summaries give you enough information to decide if you agree with their summary judgement.

Factcheck.org, which also has a specific part (Scicheck.org) dedicated to fact checking scientific claims, they are also quite transparent about their funding sources. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Politifact.com is the home of the “Pants on Fire” evaluation of some claims.  This site is also distinguished by having separate pages for individual states (with contributions from local fact checking sources), pages keeping track of campaign promises, and pages on individual politicians. A rather unusual organization with a diverse set of partnerships and financial support, they don’t take individual donations, but you can follow them or subscribe to their findings.

Snopes.com is a more broad-based site that has a focus more on urban legends and internet rumors as well as recent news stories and so is the place to go when you hear from some relative that Elvis is alive, that  Nigerian royalty needs their help, or that they have to pass on some email to prevent their computer from being hacked. Snopes is ad-supported and unaffiliated with any political organization. (As an aside, Norton.com has generally been a clearinghouse for new flavors of cyberattacks like phishing, trojan horses, and various viruses. So sometimes this is where you look when some relative wants to respond to a strange email.  The site is supported by the sale of their anti-virus software, presumably).

Retraction watch is focused tightly on problems in the scientific literature itself; sometimes their findings reflect issues of concern beyond just the scientific community. The site does seek financial contributions while continuing to keep its work public.

Washington Post fact checker is the home of the multiple Pinocchio summary evaluation. Based in the nation’s capital, this column/website focuses on political statements at the national level. Access to stories can be limited by a paywall, so you can support by subscribing (many papers, like the Denver Post, actually offer an online subscription as a benefit).

Many newspapers and television now support some fact-checker type position; some of these are probably very good, some others might well be partisan hacks.  What you want to see is a trail that leads you back to the most primary sources. Of course ideally journalism in general should be built upon facts that are verified.

3 responses to “Support your favorite fact checker”

  1. Ron Miksha says :

    Thank you for this post, it’s quite relevant to everyone’s future.

    In addition to “a new effort to pretend that real news you don’t like is fake”, there is a growing, politically-based push to discredit the fact-checking sites. A real eye-opener in a search of “Snopes bias”, for example. A website called angrypartiotmovement leads Google’s list and there you can learn that Snopes is a tool of the left, started by an embezzler, a hooker, and a socialist (even worse, she’s Canadian).

    During the election, I was able to get a few friends to recant ridiculous theories when I directed them to Snopes. That won’t happen next election because they will point out what angrypatriots says about Snopes. I’ve also seen sites claiming that FactCheck.org is financed by Soros, not Annenberg, and so on. In short, even faced with facts, there will be ways to reject them and to shoot all the messengers.

    Looks like the lights are going out.

    Like

    • cjonescu says :

      Thanks.

      If a site can point you to legitimate primary sources, it shouldn’t matter if it is run by socialists or super-patriots. The problem is that many folks are getting to the point where they aren’t interested in digging that deep or can’t recognize what primary material really is. Goebbels would have loved this. The US had something of a golden age of news credibility from somewhere in the 1930s to the 1980s, when the Fairness Doctrine was killed and cable started to evolve from just being a way of getting local TV stations to its own media environment. You wonder if we need to be teaching journalism 101 to everybody in high school.

      Eventually you end up with “news” that is so clearly unreliable that it is worthless and not trusted by the public, such as what the Soviets ended up with after trying to rewrite history and bending the news to their ends. But by the time we get to that stage, we’ll have lost a free press and may not be lucky enough to have a Radio Free Europe equivalent to lean on.

      The key question to a conspiracy buff would be, what would it take for you to change your mind? When there is no answer, there is no hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says :

        Nicely put. Unfortunately, for many of these people (and I know many of them), sound bites that are under 140 characters are all they can digest, so digging deeper is out of the question.
        I don’t think there is much interest in primary sources. Recently someone told me, “Don’t try to stick in YOUR facts,” saying ‘your’ as if there were two sets of facts – and mine were the wrong set. It’s a post-truth world. For this new society, facts don’t matter. ‘Reality’ TV is fiction posing as reality while lies repeated often enough become truths.
        Regarding Radio Free America, I know some folks in the USA use CBC for reports on world news. Not perfect, either, but another voice.

        Like

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