Monday, March 27, 2017

Some Ways to Discern Real/Fake News per Science Mike (The Liturgists)…..and #3 will shock you!!


Another great episode by The Liturgists.  Below is Science Mike’s methodology (paraphrased) for testing news claims as told on the Liturgists recent episode: Fake News & Media Literacy (starting at about the 16 minute mark).


1 – Legitimate news media will name the author and contributors to any post or article that they publish to create accountability.

If there is no author listed, lower the confidence that you put in the quality of the article and/or the truthfulness of it’s claims.


2 – Where was this published? 

Have you ever heard of this publishing institution or organization?  (Not to say that you’ve heard of every legitimate outlet, but do your due diligence.)

Do they have an editorial review board that holds journalists and authors accountable for the words they write?

Does this institution publish corrections, retractions, or letters to the editors?

Is there some means for the readership to publicly hold the institution accountable?

Who owns the publication?


3 – Date of publication?

Fake news generally doesn’t put a date of publication, so people often won’t realize how long the story has been out.

Fake news will often massage the language to make it appear as if it’s happening today.


4 – Trustworthy media cites specific sources.

It names names, names specific organizations, studies, etc.

Are the specific sources named or unnamed?  Must understand that you cannot fully substantiate news that comes from unnamed sources.  Stay alert, but don’t draw conclusions or take specific actions.

Does a news article state that “studies say” without citing a specific study or institution?  If that's the case, dig deeper.

Note that statistics/charts/graphs can be used selectively (though not necessarily inaccurately) to support a narrative.  Example, compressing (or expanding) a statistical time frame to illustrate the degree to which something has increased or decreased over time.


5 – Is the article well-written?

Typos, grammar mistakes, poor punctuation, and ALL-CAPS are huge red flags that you’re not dealing with trustworthy content.


*6 – Does anything in the piece make me angry or afraid?

Be aware that emotions aren’t good for analytical decision making and of your own propensity for confirmation bias.

Be aware of the capitalistic drive for media to create and profit from confirmation bias, sensationalism, and emotion.  In these cases, there is an obligation to dig deeper before accepting or sharing information.

Be aware of genre (e.g. satire!)



And if this is too much to remember, listen to Mike's rap at the end of the episode (lyrics here).  Brilliant.


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