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Fact Checking

Rumors and Hype

Abe Lincoln's Internet Quote

  • The classsic Snopes web reference. (Spoiler, drag mouse to see text: The section titled The Repository Of Lost Legends (acronym: TROLL) actually contains falsehoods marked "true". This is to highlight that while the Snopes maintainers like to help out, even they are fallible, and can make mistakes -- we are all ultimately responsible for chasing down the truth.)
  • Similar website Truth or Fiction. Did you get an email about Snopes being unreliable, having a liberal slant, and to use Truth or Fiction instead? Read what Truth or Fiction has to say about that email!
  • Was that a real news article? Real or Satire will help you figure it out.  Several articles from satire sites including The Onion have been circulated as real, generating a lot of confusion before things got explained.  The site refers to Poe's Law often; Poe's Law has several different versions, my favorite of which is "Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook." (Wikipedia)

Business and Charity Reputation

After any big-news disaster, scam charities pop up online with web names like "katrinavictims.org" or "tsunamihelp.com" or "HaitiEarthquakeAid.com" -- I made these up, but those or similar were registered shortly after the respective disasters took place. Most of these were scams to take the money of people who wanted to help. To avoid this, donate money to charities you already know: The Red Cross, for example, responds to most of these kinds of things. By all means please help, but do so through charities and other organizations that you already know, not through an email that randomly arrives in your in-box and sends you to an event-specific link you've never heard of before.

Some links for evaluating charities:

You probably don't need to hit all of those sites to check a single charity; but if you get through all four, and can't find the charity that's asking you for money, you might want to give somewhere else.
(Related:  The US Governments USAID website, showing federal international relief efforts.  There are lots of opportunities to help out, but I found no solicitation for extra money.)

And, of course, checking out businesses:

Politispeak

Here's a couple of web sites that try to decode the various political claims and accusations that fly constantly, but even more so at election time. I am trying to link to politically neutral analysis, math- or science-based where possible. Please contact me if you know of a resource more neutral than the ones presented here.