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Disinformation and misinformation are existential threats to our democracy because they undermine our trust in a shared reality, and we lose our common ground. (Dr. Kate Starbird, University of Washington, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, "The Weirdest Election 'Night' Ever," webinar, 2020 October 19)

"Without facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust. How can you have democracy without that? This is the fabric that holds us together: shared reality." (Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of Rappler, Time magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2018, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021; Time, October 25/November 1, 2021, page 6)

"The most ominous and obvious manifestation of this ignorance, serving as both cause and effect, is an absence of curiosity about other points of view."  . . . "The unwillingness to give a hearing to contradictory viewpoints, or to imagine that one might learn anything from an ideological or cultural opponent, represents a departure from the best side of American popular and elite intellectual traditions." (page xix) "The defining characteristic of junk thought, which manifests itself in the humanities and social sciences as well as the physical sciences, are anti-rationalism and contempt for countervailing facts and expert opinion." (page 211)
Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (New York: Pantheon Books, 2008).

 

Avoid information bubbles

When you get all of your news from one source, you are getting only one perspective that may be biased. Just as a balanced diet is good for your body, a variety of news sources is good for your mind.

 

AllSides considers media bias and presents parallel news stories from the left, center, and right.

Media Bias/Fact Check rates news media on their bias; check out their list of least-biased news sources.

According to author David McRaney: "Punditry is an industry built on confirmation bias . . . these people provide fuel for beliefs, they prefilter the world to match existing worldviews. If their filter is like your filter, you love them. If it isn't, you hate them. You watch them not for information, but for confirmation."  McRaney also says, "Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions." (Eric Giordano, "Brownies, Brains, and Information Habits, Part II," The Municipality, May 2021, page 30.)

There are facts, and then there is everything else
 

"Just the facts, ma'am," was a famous quotation attributed to Sergeant Joe Friday on the 1950s television drama Dragnet. But he never actually said that, so even one of our most well-known catchphrases about facts is a myth.

What is a fact? (Merriam-Webster definition)

What is a fabricated fact? (Black's Law Dictionary)

There are a lot of things floating around out there that are not facts. Analyses, interpretations, opinions, predictions, speculation, misinformation, rumors, fake news, myths, conspiracy theories, urban legends, fabrications, hoaxes, and bald-faced lies sometimes smother the facts. Facts can be checked and verified.

Here are some fact-checking tools:

 

What will Politifact be watching in 2022?

("Dilbert" by Scott Adams, La Crosse Tribune, 2019 March 24)

Feature: "How the 9/11 attacks helped shape the modern misinformation, conspiracy theory industry"
 

Feature: Commission on Information Disorder: Final Report
 

Feature: Build Back Better legislation
Kevin McCarthy misleads about Build Back Better legislation and IRS audits
In marathon speech, Kevin McCarthy makes dubious claims about Build Back Better bill
IRS reform proposal would not require banks to hand over info on routine transactions
Biden plan to require more bank account reporting to IRS is still a proposal
Will the IRS track 'every' Venmo transaction?
GOP Rep. Lisa McClain’s Pants on Fire claim that infrastructure bill is only 10% infrastructure


Feature: Afghanistan
Fact-checking Biden's statements on Afghanistan
Biden's flip flops on Afghanistan
Chaos at Kabul airport was not staged
A deliberate attempt to bring in more refugees?
Refugee vetting
Where is the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau?
Trump's withdrawal from Afghanistan
Comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam
Taliban did not hang a man from a helicopter
Military equipment and weapons left for the Taliban
Money spent on military contracts in Afghanistan
Questions about U.S. credibility
How many Americans and allies were left behind
Generals contradict Biden's statement about troops
Trump rejected generals' advice too

 

Feature: Report on the 2020 Election
The Long Fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 Election
(PDF of the report)
 

Feature: Critical Race Theory
Covering the controversy
 

Feature: Crime
Why did murders spike in 2020?
False blame for crime increase
Democrat makes misleading "Defund Police" claim
Rise in homicides
George Floyd inaccuracies
Biden exaggerates on gun shows
Gun control and genocide
Cost of firearms injuries
7 things journalists should know about guns
 

Feature: Voting laws
Voter ID laws getting stricter
Harris exaggerates on food and water laws
Voting laws and Jim Crow rhetoric
Bill HR 1 fact-checked
How often does voter impersonation happen?
The real incidence of voter fraud
The new Georgia voting law
Sunday voting in Georgia
Who has more restrictive voting laws?
Claims about Georgia voting laws?
How do New York's laws compare with Georgia?
The dead voter in Nevada
 

Feature: Immigration
Root causes of migration
Tweets misrepresent border data
Fact-checking President Biden's claims
Asylum grants and immigration court attendance
Colorado gunman did not come illegally from Mexico
Apprehensions at the border
Did a United Nations official condemn conditions in migrant detention facilities?
Fact-checking the Homeland Security secretary
Biden did not demolish Trump's wall
How many terrorists cross our southern border?
Is the border wide open?
Are migrants being treated better than the National Guard?
 

Feature: What is QAnon?

QAnon's corrosive impact on the U.S. (60 Minutes)

HBO QAnon documentary and the identity of Q

What is QAnon, the baseless conspiracy spilling into US politics?

What is QAnon, the Viral Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory

QAnon Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

QAnon: What is it and where did it come from?

A Breeding Ground for Conspiracies: How QAnon Helped Bring About the U.S. Capitol Assault

CNN Special Report: Inside the QAnon Conspiracy

How a South Carolina mom left QAnon behind

A rare look at pro-Trump conspiracy theorists in their own words

Residents of Washington town wonder if QAnon has taken hold of their mayor

What is QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory causing controversy at the RNC

People tell us how QAnon destroyed their relationships

QAnon supporters who ran for Congress in 2020

The Prophecies of Q

QAnon goes European

Can you ever come back from QAnon?


"Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain, argues that our brains naturally look for and find patterns, and then infuse those patterns with meaning. As a result, simple coincidences can become key explanatory facts. The internet exacerbates these tendencies by putting together random facts, making them readily available and spreading them virally." (Eric Giordano, "Brownies, Brains, and Information Habits, Part II," The Municipality, May 2021, page 31.)

Short primers on information literacy

An owl says "hoo" and you should too

Bias and logical fallacies go together like love and marriage

Everything but the truth

Watch their language

What a carrot can teach us about viewpoints

Why social media should not be your news media

 

Educate yourself

Bad News (misinformation game)

Calling  Bullshit: Data Reasoning in a Digital World

Cognitive biases

First Draft's Essential Guide to Understanding Information Disorder

First Draft's Essential Guide to Verifying Online Information

5 Common Research Designs

How to tell science from pseudoscience

Information Disorder: The Essential Glossary

Is this story share-worthy? (Note: The Newseum is defunct)

Lexicon of Lies: Terms for Problematic Information

The Skeptical Inquirer Presents

Thou shall not commit logical fallacies

Master List of Logical Fallacies

Know Your Research (The Journalist's Resource)

What is Peer Review?

Real Raw News: a case study in false information

 

Reading & Resource List on Information Literacy (updated regularly)

 

Investigative tools

BotSlayer: track disinformation on Twitter

Comparison of reverse image searching tools

Google Reverse Image Search

Guide to Using Reverse Image Search for Investigations

InVid Verification Plugin

NewsGuard: trust ratings for news websites
TinEye (reverse image search)

The Political realm

Tucker Carlson’s ‘Patriot Purge’ film on Jan. 6 is full of falsehoods, conspiracy theories

Misinformation and the Jan. 6 insurrection

Trying to blame Pelosi for January 6

The Oath Keepers and January 6th

Trump pushing falsehoods in traditional media

Trump letter wrong about Pennsylvania election

Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy theory about FBI and Jan. 6 continues to be wrong

Tucker Carlson film falsely claims Jan. 6 is ‘pretext to strip millions’ of ‘constitutional rights’

Carlson's Jan. 6 documentary doesn’t tell full story about former DEA agent

Conservative media advance unfounded theory about Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Audit widens Biden victory in Arizona

Debunking the latest Arizona election claims

Election falsehoods live on in Arizona

Distortions about elections in Georgia

Tucker Carlson's misleading claims about Georgia voter fraud

A Timeline of Trump's words

Misinformation in the 2020 U.S. Elections & Social Media Platform Policies

Fact-checking the Capitol insurrection

The Capitol Siege: The Arrested and Their Stories

The myth that Antifa stormed the Capitol

Mis/disinformation and the Capitol breach

Andrew Clyde's distortion of the Capitol riot

Dirty Tricks: 9 Falsehoods that Could [and did] Undermine the 2020 Election

No evidence that Dominion Voting Systems flipped votes

Charges about voting technology companies

Examining false beliefs about voter fraud

Factchecking (sic) the Electoral College Debate [2020 Presidential election]

A Tale of Two Elections: CBS and Fox News' Portrayal of the 2020 Presidential Campaign

TV news outlets overrepresent extreme partisans in Congress

Research on the Confederate flag, divisive politics and enduring meanings

How Facebook could reduce political animosity

 

(Joel Heller, La Crosse Tribune, 2021 August 8, page A8)

COVID-19 corner

CoronaVirusFacts Database

Coronavirus Rumor Control (FEMA)

Federal Government COVID-19 information

Coronavirus Mythbusters (World Health Organization)

Coronavirus Resource Center (Johns Hopkins University)

CoronaVirusFacts Alliance (Poynter Institute)

Coronavirus fact-checks (Politifact)

Facts and gaps on the origin of coronavirus

Information on vaccines (COVID Collaborative)

What do we really know about vaccine effectiveness?

No lie: COVID-19 is largely spread by unvaccinated people

No truth to claim that vaccination provides 'no added safety to the public'

Aaron Rodgers’ Inaccurate COVID-19 Claims

Basketball Star Bradley Beal’s Misleading Comments About COVID-19

White House vaccine policy

Vaccines for children

False claims about vaccines

Misuse of data to make false claims about vaccines

No, the COVID-19 vaccines are not weapons of mass destruction

Tucker Carlson misrepresents data to question vaccines

Controversy over natural immunity

Cloth or surgical: which is a better mask?

False claims by an Indiana doctor

Doctors who spread misinformation

Masks and schoolchildren

Migrants are not fueling the COVID surge

Migrants not responsible for COVID spike

The controversy over ivermectin

Vaccine misinformation insights

America has a vaccination problem & some media are to blame

Republican Governor criticizes anti-vaccine "propaganda"

Questions and answers about vaccines (Washington Post Fact Checker)

Questions and answers about vaccines (Politifact)

Answers for vaccine skeptics (Politifact)

COVID-19/vaccinations misconceptions and misinformation (FactCheck.org)

Vaccines and the Delta variant

The social network for doctors is full of vaccine disinformation

COVID-19 surge in Florida and baseless claims about vaccinated vs unvaccinated patients

Vaccines do not violate the Nuremberg Code

Are migrants fueling the COVID-19 surge?

Businesses can ask customers about vaccination status

Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation

Tomi Lahren's misleading spin on vaccines and COVID-19 survival

False vaccine claims persist on Facebook

Joe Rogan's bad advice on vaccines

Tucker Carlson is wrong about vaccines

Tucker Carlson misrepresents vaccine safety data

Vaccines do not "shed"

Vaccines do not alter DNA

Vaccines will not make colds and flu lethal

False and unsupported claims about vaccines

Misrepresenting Fauci's emails

Censorship or misinformation?

How to fact-check coronavirus information on social media

How to stop friends and relatives from spreading misinformation

Origins of COVID-19

Wisconsin state documents on COVID-19

Wisconsin COVID-19 information

Most bizarre COVID-19 fact checks

 

Archive

Facebook Fact-Checks by Politifact

Joe Biden’s inauguration in extraordinary times, fact-checked

One last time (as president): Fact-checking Donald Trump’s departure speech

Whoppers of 2020 by FactCheck

Lie of the Year [2020] by Politifact

Politifact's top 10 fact-checks of 2020

Biggest Pinocchios of the Year [2020] by the Washington Post

The scariest misinformation of 2020 by Politifact

The Global Disinformation Disorder

How Disinformation Evolved in 2020

 

Just For Fun

"Hokum Bunkum Balderdash" a song by Lou & Peter Berryman