Yesterday, there were a couple of opinion articles in the New York Times on the amount of lies foisted on the public. In 2016, Oxford Dictionary's new word of the year in 2016 was "post-truth." So I guess that means we're now living in the post-truth era. Daniel Effron wrote a piece Why Trump Supporters Don't Mind His Lies.. He claims that fabrications are acceptable to some people if they "could have been true." Michael Hayden's The End of Intelligence discusses the normalization of lying during presidential security briefings when facts don't seem to matter. The danger is that we are losing our moral compass as a "Nation of Lies" overshadows our cherished "Nation of Laws." The erosion of trust is ubiquitous. My email box is bombarded with requests to sign petitions, join rallies, give money. Who are all these people? I distrust them all! I even get phone calls from young men purporting to be my grandsons, some of them with foreign accents.
Truth is primary to those of us who write nonfiction for children. We take the word "nonfiction" seriously. It means, "nothing is made up." We don't even allow invented dialogue. We must cite our sources. I once figured that besides the fact checkers, an iNK manuscript was read by people with prior knowledge and critical thinking at least 18 times before publication, not counting that times it was reviewed by the author. We children's nonfiction authors DO NOT LIE! So I put out a message to my iNK colleagues of truth-tellers asking for help; where could we find instant fact-checkers. Laurie Thompson and Susan Schulman sent back the following sites so that you can ferret out a lie when you get suspicious:
Media Blast/Fact Check
“Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.
“MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.
“Funding for MBFC News comes from site advertising, individual donors, and the pockets of our bias checkers.”
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.
Politifact.com This Pulitzer Prize-winning site goes to great lengths to explain their process to root out facts from fiction. It is worth reading about here:
Snopes.com focuses on smoking out rumors. They have a search box where you can insert something you’ve seen or heard from the media and they check it out.
Washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker If you trust traditional media, then the Washington Post is your source where reporters adhere to journalistic standards. Nothing is reported without three independent sources. They give out Pinocchio’s as a rating for falsehoods. Interestingly, one of our Board members, Karen Sterling is a school librarian. She was amused at the furor of “reply alls” as we sorted this out. Her take?
'What fun to see you all performing the librarian’s job of fact checker! We all suffer from the great malaise - confirmation bias. Someone needs to write about this...
Thanks for providing a bit of levity today - I really needed it! And thanks for the nice list of fact checking sites. I will share them with students tomorrow giving Laurie and Susan full credit.”
Yes, whenever we can, we should cite our sources.