Do we live in a "post-truth" society? One where facts and knowledge aren't valued, where "experts" are dismissed for being killjoys? I hope not, but there has been a marked increase in this anti-intellectual, anti-fact rhetoric from certain (highly successful) political circles recently. Alongside this post-truth menace come deceit and lies, which have recently been rebranded as "fake news". Fibbing is certainly not a new phenomenon in politics (anyone remember being economical with the truth?) but, fortunately for us, it is not too difficult for us to defend ourselves against these bringers of falsehoods.
We are completely surrounded by a seemingly infinite influx of information. TV, newspapers and, of course, the internet. The tidbits we get from this deluge of data can be confusing, misleading, inaccurate, or just plain wrong. So how can we know what to believe, who to trust? The truth(!) is that you can never be 100% sure, but a little critical thinking can help you decide how probable a story is. The infographic below has been put together by the International Federation of Library Associations and institutions (IFLA) and features 8 ways to check the reliability of what you are reading.
In the run up to this week's general election, CILIP have been running a Facts Matter campaign, and have put together there own infographic on how to find the needles of truth in the haystack of misinformation
Check Your Facts
A number of organisations, media outlets and charities have responded to this proliferation of fake news by setting up independent, researched and referenced fact checking websites. I've listed a few below. I hope you find them useful, or at least interesting. Comment below if you know of any other good fact checking sources I've missed.
Some useful fact-checking websites:
- InFact from The Independent newspaper
- Snopes - an American-based fact checking service that has been around since 1994
- Full Fact - An independent UK charity dedicated to checking facts
- Channel 4's FactCheck page.
- Peer-reviewed fact-checking articles from The Conversation.
Did Stewart Lee's cab driver inspire post-truth Britain?