How will you know if the news is real or fake?

Sometimes I get emails from a site called Quora. Quora is a site where people pose questions and whoever feels like it answers them, with or without listing credentials. I sometimes find questions I’m interested in answering (as one of many, normally) either because I feel like teaching or because I feel like countering a bad assumption or misrepresentation of what I consider to be accurate. This morning I saw an interesting question. It is the title of this piece. So I just started writing. I kind of like what I wrote so I figured What The Hell, I’ll post it on Bindlesnitch. 

The first way is to check it from other sources.

The second way is to examine your source. The main question to ask yourself is: Is this source obviously trying to tell me how to feel? Are you hearing a lot of outrage from all the reporters and commentators? If that’s the case, you’re not listening to a news organization, you’re listening to a sales organization. Information from sales organizations pretending to be news organizations should always be suspect because they’re not presenting information for the sake of keeping you informed, they’re pushing an agenda.

The third way is to evaluate what you’re hearing and asking yourself if it makes sense. Does the action being reported have an obvious motivation based on typical motives rather than stereotypes? If the ostensible motive is pure evil and you’re not dealing with a serial killer the news is probably fake. If the news is too good to be true it’s probably fake.

The fourth way is to look for gross generalizations, particularly if they’re attached to accusations. Gross generalizations are rarely true. “The liberals are trying to…” “The Muslims are trying to…” “The [fill in the large group] agenda…” Generally, as soon as you read something like that you know that there’s a high probability it’s fake.

The fifth way is to look for things being named to make you feel a certain way. Again, this is not reporting, it’s sales. For example, we know what inheritance taxes are. We’ve known that for a long time. If you read it or hear it referred to as a “death tax” you can see that someone’s trying to charge the conversation emotionally rather than relying on analysis. The word “socialist” is rarely used accurately and rarely used truthfully. The same is true of the word “Nazi.” The same is true of the word “Zionist.” The same is true of the word “Sharia.”

I hope this is helpful. I’m just figuring this out as I write because I’ve never really analyzed the question in detail before.