Why Fact Checkers Need To Be Checked


Photo Credit: University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Fact checkers, like them or not, they've increasingly become a part of our lives as our digital footprint continues to expand. They aren't likely to go away any time soon, so it's best that we all learn how to live with them, and more importantly, how to not just rely on what these companies put out as "facts."


There is a growing understanding that these "Fact Checking" companies are generally manned by people from only one side of the political spectrum, and that the ones that are more balanced have a harder time getting contracts with Facebook, Google, Twitter, et al. Why is that? Well, it's simple, Fact Checkers do not simply give you the facts as their name implies, rather they "check" them and give you their "report." And by "report" they really mean opinion.


As Joe Friday would say, "Just the facts ma'am."

 
 

Here are a few videos you can watch to get the gist of what's going on in case you are somehow unaware of how bad it is:




The problem with fact checking isn't with the facts, it's in the interpretation of them. Fact checking by just giving us the relevant facts and letting us decide what we think is Fact Checking. Attempting to break it down and give us your opinion of it is not.


But you see, all you have to do is take a good long read through Politifact or Snopes to quickly realize that they have very different criteria for their "Fact Checking" depending on whom they are fact checking. On topics that tend to be more liberal, they are almost never false, but rather regularly end up mixed or partially true. This is in comparison to their treatment of conservative points of view which they rate false at an unbelievably higher rate than the ones from Liberals.


Again, fact are good, opinions are good, but opinions presented as facts are bad.


I'll post some more reading links at the bottom if you want to study more on it.


USA Today fact checked an article about the Capital Riots being compared to the Kavanaugh Hearings Riot as false, yet when you dig into it what they are calling arrests are actually just detentions with no one even being booked or taken away in a squad car, and their claims that the courthouse building wasn't breached are a completely red herring as no one ever said the building breached was the courthouse, and the Hart Senate Office Building was.


That sounds like at least a half-true statement to me, but nope, they said it was just false.


You see, this is why it is so wrong to rely completely on these Fact Checkers. Yes, they may do a lot of work to actually GET the facts, but the issue is that they don't just give them to you, they attempt to spin them because, "obviously you're not intelligent enough to connect the dots yourself." Yeah, right... well that or the dots don't line up the way they want them to so they need to spin it.


I'm increasingly finding myself distrusting "Fact Checkers" more and more, and I'm having to do a lot of research on my own because of it. Yet the truth is, that most often I find that they were quite slanted, if not outright dishonest, about the facts, and interestingly enough, almost exclusively to one side.


They regularly give the liberal side the benefit of the doubt and try to make their statements at least partially true. I wouldn't have a problem with that if it were consistent, but it's not. They regularly take contested statements from conservatives and rate them as completely false, even when such contestation would have rated as 50-50 to mostly true if it were the same being said from a liberal.


This is why you have to be increasingly more and more careful now days. Just because you're getting "facts" doesn't mean you aren't also getting opinion. Opinion writers must use facts to support their opinion, but factual writers and news reporters aren't supposed to use opinion when presenting the facts. So when you are a "Fact Checker," opinion shouldn't even be in the equation, unless you're giving equal access to opinions from ALL sides, which they clearly aren't.


Remember, just because a "Fact Checker" said it doesn't make it true. Do your own research, form your own opinion, and look at all of the facts.


It's too bad we've come to this, because we desperately need REAL Fact Checkers, just like we need REAL objective journalism.


Unfortunately, I fear both may be dead.


More Reading:

https://newrepublic.com/article/156039/political-fact-checkers-distort-truth

https://www.ft.com/content/69e43380-dd6d-4240-b5e1-47fc1f2f0bdc

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-psychology-of-fact-checking1/

https://dc.law.utah.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1270&context=ulr

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