How do I Tell Real News from Fake News?

With Russians poisoning social media against challengers to Donald Trump, and propaganda being thrown out by everyone from your over-ambitious prepper to your local anti-vaxxer patrol, determining what is real news and what is fake has never been more important. While we all have our favorite methods, and many different methods work, I use one method consistently because it’s so fast and easy. To demonstrate, let’s use a news headline I saw today on my Facebook page.

Russia and Iran just responded to Trump’s Syria strike with a terrifying ultimatum

Now the original post came from Occupy Democrats. So, let’s just say you see something like that on your Facebook page. Now, it doesn’t matter if you are a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter, a Republican or Democrat. It’s YOUR DUTY to determine if this is fake news before you spread it around or scoff at it. So click the link and go to the source of the headline. While reading the article I saw a quote.

“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well, …”

I then copied the following and put it into my favorite search engine (because god knows, people are politicizing them too).

“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with ”

My search engine found several other websites containing the exact quote. Now here’s where you’ll have to work.

I then went to five of these websites to see why the search string of text was being picked up and I found the exact same quote, and glanced through the accompanying articles enough to see parity with the original article. So in this case Occupy Democrats disseminated REAL NEWS, not FAKE NEWS.

What if it had been fake news? I might have found the quote, but it may be attributed to someone other than who/where the original poster indicated. It may include MORE material not included in the original post (this is a favorite tactic of Fox News, by the way). I may not have found the quote at all, anywhere. That would be very suspect.

Now this method is quick and dirty and not perfect. There are many ways to tell real news from fake news, but the responsibility is yours. This is just one method.

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Hi and thanks for stopping by.

I was doing some research on education today and came upon some troubling and sad statistics. I’m not really surprised of course. Who would be, if they spent only a few minutes examining our popular culture? Or 10 seconds on YouTube?

The information I found came from several sources, including Gallup and various Universities from around the country. Here’s the take-aways that made me want to cry a ham sandwich of sorrow (from Psychology Today.)

  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;

You can find many more sad facts at Psychology Today.

For some reason I find the last one I listed as the most troubling.

What do you think? Has the U.S. lost its ability to compete due to the flashy pressure of pop culture distractions? Are we, as a nation, so unconcerned with knowledge that we’ll go dancing and skipping into a future ruled by idiots? Will everyone outside of the U.S. start to use the term “American” as slang for moron, like they use “Texas” as slang for “mentally disturbed?” Only time will tell I suppose. I guess we’ll know when they replace water with Gatorade to irrigate our crops.