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Fake News & Critical Thinking: Critical Thinking

What is Critical Thinking?

"Critical thinking is the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances."
[from
Becoming a critic of your own thinking]

Think critically about what you read, hear, see, and about how you absorb information. It's a good way to begin figuring out and interpreting fake news, alternative facts, post-truth, and misinformation. [See the SU book (login required) Critical thinking]

CRAAP

Figuring Out Images

With advanced image altering software, images can provide false or misleading information too. Google Reverse Image Search allow users to verify what websites used the image. When viewing images, ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the picture taken?
  • Where was the picture taken?
  • Who took the picture?
  • Look closely?
  • Why are you seeing this now?

A Word About Search Engines

Search engine creators, like Google, are businesses whose purpose is to turn a profit, not help you find information. Using several different search engines when seeking information is good practice, don't become loyal to just one. In addition, consider using search engines that are uncensored and anonymous, such as, DuckDuckGo or GIBIRU.

Analyzing News Sources

Think critically, and use these tips for analyzing news sources:
  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).

  • Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources  

  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.

  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.

  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.

  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).

  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.

  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.

  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.

  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals (doxing is searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.

  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

[from M. Zimbar, False, misleading, clickbait-y, and / or satirical "news" sources. Retrieved from Pace University Library Research Guide.]    Illustration by Jim Cooke.

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