Three Steps for Fact Checking Online Articles
In a time when facts and data on any subject are found with a click of a button, so are opinions. Oftentimes it’s near impossible to distinguish the two. I get it. Even the most seasoned analyst can become confused. With new technology comes more elegant techniques for disguising the bias behind what looks like fact.
Here are 3 steps you can take to help weed through the hype on any subject.
1. HEED THE HEADLINE, but read the whole article.
Headlines are the number one red flag on your great read. Does the headline properly convey the tone of the text? Did the text support the headline or did it leave you with more questions and confusion? Take this type of article with a grain of salt, but do not discount the entire article. Likely the story, while perhaps incomplete, may still point to real data with just a bit of additional critique.
2. SEEK THOSE SOURCES and click those links.
A proper article designed to inform should come with proper citation. Often these references appear as links (example: an article summarizing a study should link to the actual published study) or as references and footnotes. CLICK THEM!! Proper studies will be published in peer-reviewed journals and contain transparency in their methods, caveats and conclusions. Read the abstracts and conclusions and make certain that these coincide with the article referencing such studies. If they don’t, we may have some bias at play.
3. CONSIDER THE SOURCE and follow the funding.
Take your verification one step further and read up on your authors, websites and media channels. Most prominent authors and scientists are widely published and spend ample time proving their knowledge amongst their peers. These figures tend to have personal websites; visit these sites! Are they seeking financial gain through their website? Does the conclusion of their authored piece or study promote a product? Consider any conflicts of interest a concern.
In the end, we are all human. We are all susceptible to bias, even the best scientists and professionals. The key is to catch the bias before it hits the stands or create an audience that can read between the lines, too. We can be the latter, its as easy as 1,2,3. #askthequestions
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About the Contributor:
Nina Guttierez-Garcia is a public health professional dedicated to presenting only the facts. She is a Health Physicist at a prominent healthcare institution and has a Master's Degree in Health Pyschics from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Nina can be found crafting her children's clothing line, The Tot Commodity, where she puts her passion for ethical fashion into outfitting tiny humans. She is also an Expert on the SocialMama app, where she is available 24/7 to address all public-health concerns, especially those related to COVID-19.