My colleague Ed Brayton recently posted an excellent article summarizing some of the most inaccurate and biased left-leaning websites. If we care about honesty and improving the arguments from “our side” then we should be happy to call out misinformation or distortion whenever we see it. Here is the list of websites that I agree with Ed that probably should not be shared (or at least heavily fact-checked first):
Blue Nation Review
The Freethought Project
Politicalo (almost anything that ends on lo; these sites specialize in taking accurate statements from politicians and then adding false quotes to them that are much worse than what they actually said)
The Other 98%
Okay great. So we have a list of websites that have consistently been shown to share misinformation, or at least engage in hyperbole and distortion. But where should we go for accurate information? Well, I have a few suggestions! The Pew Research Center conducted a study on the most trusted news outlets in America. The top two, The Economist and BBC, are actually British. NPR comes in third. The Wall Street Journal also does well. Buzzfeed and The Rush Limbaugh Show are at the bottom.
Importantly, trust value does not automatically equal accuracy and only a few of these are trusted by both conservatives and liberals so those are the least likely to be biased. Additionally, just because a website makes this list, it doesn’t mean it is trusted, just that it was reviewed.
This study gives us a rough indicator of the credibility of these news outlets, but there are a few other tools you can use to make sure you are sharing accurate information. You can use several fact-checking websites to search for the claim in question. The following are a few reliable ones:
Snopes.com is a good site for general claims
Finally, I’d like to share my own suggestions for checking if a science story is accurate. In this article, I share five quick tips on how to tell if a popular science article is actually nonsense. The quickest way is to use Google Scholar to see if the study in question is actually respected by other scientists. If it is cited by other academics and is from a reputable journal, that will give you some solid information on deciding if it is legitimate or not even if you have no training in the field!
Of course, Google Scholar is a very crude technique for source-checking science. And using websites like Snopes or Politifact is not foolproof for fact-checking politics. But taking just a few seconds to fact-check the claim in question can go a long way for preventing the spread of misinformation.