This is a toolkit for you to rummage around in, taking questions to ask and ways to think from each. No one set of questions has all the answers - it's up to you, the intrepid information explorer, to assemble your expeditionary tools, as you evaluate the information you find.
Information is created for a reason. Nothing slipped & fell and ended up on the internet, or in print, or on TV. It takes an act of human intentionality to create and publish information. This toolkit will give you a starting point to pull back the curtain on what you read, watch, listen to, or experience.
In general, you can try these moves in sequence. If you find success at any stage, your work might be done.
When you encounter a claim you want to check, your first move might be to see if sites like Politifact, or Snopes, or even Wikipedia have researched the claim (Check for previous work).
If you can’t find previous work on the claim, start by trying to trace the claim to the source. If the claim is about research, try to find the journal it appeared in. If the claim is about an event, try to find the news publication in which it was originally reported (Go upstream).
Maybe you get lucky and the source is something known to be reputable, such as the journal Science or the newspaper, the New York Times. Again, if so, you can stop there. If not, you’re going to need to read laterally, finding out more about this source you’ve ended up at and asking whether it is trustworthy (Read laterally).
And if at any point you fail–if the source you find is not trustworthy, complex questions emerge, or the claim turns out to have multiple sub-claims–then you circle back, and start a new process. Rewrite the claim. Try a new search of fact-checking sites, or find an alternate source (Circle back).
Want to learn why he came up with this?
What type of content is this?
Who and what are the sources cited and why should I believe them?
Evidence: What's the evidence and how was it vetted?
Interpretation: Is the main point of the piece proven by the evidence?
Completeness: What's missing?
Knowledge: Am I learning every day what I need?
Adjectives & Adverbs
What's Left Out?
This method was created to help you think about different sources and how you might put them all together for your final product.
Exhibits or Evidence Sources
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