Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Critical Thinking in a Fake News World

While technology might make it easier for someone to create content and put it out there as legit, it also provides us with great tools to verify and fact-check before we share something.

In this blog, I'll post a few of my go-to places to verify the news, and knowing this might be old hat to some of you, I'll take it once step further and share ideas on how to sharpen your critical reading skills and watch out for bad science. 

1. A great reference for spotting fake news is this chart from
You can download it here

2. Reverse image search using TinEye (referenced above) or Google Image Search to see where else the image has appeared, and see if it's been altered in any way across different sources.

3. Compare news stories by using a Google search using quotes for an exact search match. Example: "trump" "hydroxychloroquine" will bring up news stories with those specific words. Then you can look at stories from a variety of news outlets and see how they compare. Which brings me to my next point...

4. Understand the Media Bias of a publication.  I love this chart from Ad Fontes Media which is available to download or if you really want to dig into it, you can use their interactive chart to customize the chart reporting:

5. Do a little cross-searching. Who posted the original content? Are they who they say they are? If they're in the public eye, do they have a verified badge on Twitter or Instagram? 

6. Look for classic propaganda techniques and sharpen your critical reading skills. Thanks to my big sis Michele McMahon Nobel, Ph.D. for the insight on teaching these important skills to people of all ages.

7. Learn to spot these RED FLAGS for unreliable news. Here is an informative graphic from Vanessa Otero the founder of Ad Fontes Media and that creator of that media chart listed above.

8. Watch out for video fakes. From the Washington Post, check out "The Fact Checker's Guide to Manipulated Video" for a deep dive into what to watch for with deceptive video.

9. Learn how to spot bad science with this guide from CompoundChem. Downloadable PDF is available here

10. Personally fact-check. My two favorite sites for this are Snopes and Politifact. Both are pretty quick to make updates and get news stories fact-checked very quickly. Both these also make a good follow on social media. Often I'll see a post from them disputing a story before I see it appear naturally in my newsfeed.

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