Ways to Better Avoid Fake News

Argument analysis flowchart
Figure 1 from Cook, Ellerton, and Kinkead 2018. CC BY 3.0

The term fake news may new to the modern discourse but the idea is very old. Before President Trump started making up new phrases we called “fake news” we used words like lies, propaganda, and fiction. Regardless of the source of the term there are ways to protect yourself from falling prey to these efforts to destabilize your brain. A former CIA officer has provided six quick tips to help you better deal with an onslaught of lies when it seems hard to trust news sources.

Don’t Blindly Trust Sources, Assess Them

Diving into the meat of the story itself, readers should pay particular attention to the sources cited and how their background is relevant to the subject at hand.

“Intelligence analysts are careful to explain upon what they are basing their analysis, and that includes explaining the credibility of their sources,” Otis said. “If a piece is on the government, are [the journalists] citing people who worked in government 20 years ago or people who are there with first-hand experience now? Similarly, are they citing a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, or quoting [or] citing a people who only agree with each other [or] confirm the assessment [or] the event in question?”

Read more.

Remembering Tiananmen Square

25 years ago in Tiananmen Square there was a protest against the Chinese government. The protest was dealt with lethal force by the government – killing many people. Since then, the Chinese government has blocked any discussion about the protest and has greatly censored information on it. Obviously all of this isn’t good news.

To curtail the efforts of propaganda artists and censors in China there are groups that are trying to ensure that we don’t forget about the protest. This is good because if we forget our collective history we deny ourselves a richer, more knowledgable, existence. If we don’t remember the people who stood up then we are joining the efforts of the government that censored their protest.

The Tiananmen Initiative Project aims to reignite discussion of the meaning of the Spring 1989 movement in China and the as yet unfulfilled promise of genuine political reform its participants sought. We aim to do this by encouraging various kinds of public meetings around the world around the time of the twenty-fifth anniversary – April 15-June 4, 2014 – of what has aptly been called the Beijing Spring.

Check out the Tiananmen Initiative Project.
An article on Tiananmen at NPR.

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