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6 Resources to Help You Tell Fact from Fiction

Written by Marsha Rakestraw | Published on March 12, 2015 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2015/03/12/6-resources-fact-fiction/
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overly dramatic news headline about spiders

Image via bug_g_membracid/Flickr.

by Marsha Rakestraw

In a society in which many people mistake stories from “The Onion” as true and our legislators aren’t afraid to spin wild tales as facts, being able to verify information as accurate and credible is crucial. Offering accurate information is also a core element of being an effective humane educator. But with an overwhelming amount of data permeating our overtasked daily lives, tracking down misinformation and verifying what’s accurate is a constant challenge.

In this TED talk, journalist Markham Nolan discusses some of the hoops journalists now must jump through to verify whether information (including via photos or videos) is fact or fiction.

Fortunately more people are realizing the challenge of teasing out the truth and are creating websites, platforms, and apps to help assess validity and fact check.

When you’re trying to fact-check stories in the news or other sites, here are six resources that can help.

1.  Emergent 
Emergent is a “real-time rumor tracker.” It’s part of a research project with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University that “focuses on how unverified information and rumor are reported in the media.”

2.  Fact Check
Fact Check is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” They monitor the accuracy of statements by “major U.S. political players” in ads, speeches, interviews, and more. Their SciCheck section also looks at scientific claims “made by partisans to influence public policy.”

3.  Politifact
Politifact is an “independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics. … Every fact-check includes analysis of the claim, an explanation of our reasoning and a list of links to all our sources.”

4.  Quote Investigator
Quote Investigator works to verify the validity of quotes and their attributions.

5.  Retraction Watch
This blog tracks retractions of articles and studies in scientific publications.

6.  Snopes
Snopes allows users to check the veracity of certain myths, legends, emails, and other stories.

For more “crap detection” resources, check out Howard Rheingold’s open-source compilation of resources, categorized by several topics.