Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: The Pollantir:
are you an Internet fact-checker?
Poll: are you an Internet fact-checker?
sometimes, if something doesn't sound right to me
not if I've checked out the source before & know they're reliable
usually not
never. If it's on the Internet it must be true!
View Results (30 votes)


Nov 28 2016, 12:38pm

Post #1 of 19 (1356 views)
are you an Internet fact-checker? Can't Post

all the brouhaha about false news sites made me wonder how often people here fact-check.

Because I've been a medical writer for so long, and because that requires me to check the evidence carefully, I've been trained to "click through" until I find the original paper or article and read it for myself. Even when I trust the source, like the National Institutes for Health, I still go to PubMed and find the original research AND hopefully a Cochrane review of it. (Cochrane does critical analysis of medical research.)

I drive a lot of my friends crazy because they tend to adopt the latest health craze and promote it, and then I pop up and say "actually . . . " and give them all kinds of references disputing the claims.

In fact, much of the stuff my friends share on Facebook gets the link to the debunk on snopes or factcheck. Like the thing that keeps showing up about privacy on Facebook, or airlines giving away free tickets, or Microsoft sending you money . . .

Sadly, it wasn't until grad school that I learned to be such a skeptic about what other people say and check it out for myself. I wish this kind of critical thinking got taught a lot earlier in schools. Middle school would be good, kids are just at the age of questioning anyway, be nice to give them some skills instead of allowing the purely emotional rejection that happens in adolescence to rule their ideas. imho . . .


Nov 28 2016, 3:37pm

Post #2 of 19 (1265 views)
Not always (but more than sometimes) [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe 'Frequently' or 'Often' should have followed 'Always'.

My Tolkien/Middle-earth research has often sent me to the original books and Tolkien's letters as what is on the 'net and in other secondary sources is often unreliable or at least incomplete.


Nov 28 2016, 4:49pm

Post #3 of 19 (1260 views)
Yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

Or at least, book and internet. In any case, I'm a compulsive fact-checker.

It's training. I'm a historian, writing history for a living and I do check everything. You would be amazed (or maybe you wouldn't!) how often it turns out that a source reference in a history book is a misunderstanding or a complete misrepresentation of the original source. So if it matters for what I'm writing I will always go back to the original source. I never quote something without going back to the original either, even if I'm sure I know the exact words (Or if it's something more casual, like a forum post, I'll make it clear that I'm quoting from memory only)..

I learnt this first from the history teacher I had from 'O' level (aged 14-16) upwards. She was Roman Catholic so had a very different slant on English history, which was traditionally very Protestant-biased, and she taught us never to accept one view - always ask questions, check sources, check facts. And reading history at University the message was reinforced. I'm glad of it. There are so many conflicting messages pushed at people now that I think it's healthy to learn to ask questions from an early age.


Nov 28 2016, 5:21pm

Post #4 of 19 (1255 views)
Yes, of course [In reply to] Can't Post

I always check for a good YouTube documentary or an article from the non-MSM to prove my facts. I know who to trust.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Nov 28 2016, 7:37pm

Post #5 of 19 (1238 views)
Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

I find it essential to dig deep when researching for my historical fiction, and more recently non-fiction.

With my previous book, I found a misunderstanding about girls' education repeated through several reference books, and it was only when I checked the actual legislation from the period that I could be sure of the actual details - which did have a significant influence on the plot.

More recently (and for non-fiction), I needed to know who was Minister of Justice when. My research assistant found a list on a Certain Website, but when I checked it against the official records from the 19th century I found the CW had several inaccuracies - easily done when writing about that complicated period when these men swapped jobs back and forth, and governments might last only a few weeks, but it could have led me badly astray had I accepted the details from the website.

The better-known sites can be an extremely useful starting point, and that's how I treat them.


Nov 28 2016, 7:47pm

Post #6 of 19 (1246 views)
And quotes especially. [In reply to] Can't Post

Not everyone said what they say they said.

N.E. Brigand

Nov 28 2016, 9:43pm

Post #7 of 19 (1230 views)
What's the point? People don't believe in facts anymore. [In reply to] Can't Post

Over the past few months, I have repeatedly directed people who are sharing fake news to fact-checking websites like Snopes, Politifact, or FactCheck, or to a clearly well-researched article at a generally reputable media outlet like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, only to be told that all those sources, and any others I identify, are biased and untrustworthy.

People believe what they want to believe. There apparently is no longer any such thing as truth.


Nov 28 2016, 10:53pm

Post #8 of 19 (1224 views)
Infinite regression [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Over the past few months, I have repeatedly directed people who are sharing fake news to fact-checking websites like Snopes, Politifact, or FactCheck, or to a clearly well-researched article at a generally reputable media outlet like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, only to be told that all those sources, and any others I identify, are biased and untrustworthy.

It’s the ever receding horizon of proof. They demand you prove A so you cite B, then they want proof of B so you cite C, then before you know it you’re all the way through the alphabet and they’re demanding proof of Z.

Or as Sextus Empiricus (c. AD 160 – c. 210) said in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism:

”Those who claim for themselves to judge the truth are bound to possess a criterion of truth. This criterion, then, either is without a judge's approval or has been approved. But if it is without approval, whence comes it that it is truthworthy? For no matter of dispute is to be trusted without judging. And, if it has been approved, that which approves it, in turn, either has been approved or has not been approved, and so on ad infinitum.”

Who knew these guys were practicing ancient Grecian Skepticism! (Not them, I'm sure! They'd be horrified!)

In Reply To
People believe what they want to believe.

It’s called faith. You can’t (and shouldn’t) argue with religious fanatics.

In Reply To
There apparently is no longer any such thing as truth.

As Pyrrho of Elis said in defense of Skepticism, reason follows too easily our desires.

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Nov 28 2016, 10:54pm)


Nov 29 2016, 3:54am

Post #9 of 19 (1195 views)
I once [In reply to] Can't Post

spent several hours trying to find which page of "A Wrinkle in Time" this quote falls on:


"Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition."

Finally figured out it's from "A Wind in the Door," the second book in the series. But almost everywhere you see it on the internet, it's attributed to the first book. I did get Goodreads to correct their citation.

Dame Ioreth
Tol Eressea

Nov 29 2016, 4:01am

Post #10 of 19 (1195 views)
I was interviewed for a parenting magazine once [In reply to] Can't Post

I was pregnant with my 4th child and they were doing a story on how to talk about the baby with older siblings. The interview was by email - I answered some questions and sent them back and more questions were sent. By the time the proof of the article came out, none of my comments were what I actually said, even though they were in quotes. When I questioned how they could change my words (and their intent) and still put quotes around the phrases, they said they did it all the time. Even news magazines manipulated quotes to make them jazzier.

I was appalled. I thought if words were enclosed in quotation marks, those words could be directly attributed to the source being quoted. Turns out that's not true.

Superuser / Moderator

Nov 29 2016, 4:45am

Post #11 of 19 (1191 views)
You absolutely should have been quoted verbatim. [In reply to] Can't Post

Attributing direct quotes to you that you never said (or wrote) is a misreprentation on the magazine's part. They should have either quoted you accurately or shifted your edited comments to indirect quotes (while still making sure they're a fair representation).

I'm a former journo and what that mag did with your interview is entirely unprofessional.

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Nov 29 2016, 4:46am)


Nov 29 2016, 5:35am

Post #12 of 19 (1180 views)
Yes, I'm skeptical by nature [In reply to] Can't Post

As skeptical as I am curious. They have to go together, or I'd be duped all the time since I'm often reading in areas that I don't know much about. Especially when something sounds too good to be true, like when a normally rational Facebook friend posted a story about how carbon dioxide could be turned into ethanol. That sounded too good to be true, so I tracked it down to the Oak Ridge National Lab site, and found it was true and not some punk in Macedonia making a few bucks from fake Facebook news.

I was initially a climate change skeptic, but let me stress--that was back in the early 1990s.I don't believe every new claim that comes along and kept thinking, "Really? This is profound to think that humans could alter the climate, because the Earth's atmosphere has a huge volume, and how do you alter that so significantly? Is there evidence to support this?" Turns out there was, so I got on board. If the professionals studying the climate overwhelmingly agree, they can convince me too. It staggers my mind that frackng can cause earthquakes, but yep, I guess it does.

I always keep in mind that some prevalent ideas later get rejected, like phrenology. And that other new ideas now widely accepted, like plate tectonics, were widely rejected by experts at first. Or that mosquitoes causes malaria, and doctors not washing their hands were spreading fatal diseases among women giving birth. Long list.

It's made me realize that a lot of things I currently believe could be later disproved, and I'm okay with that too. I don't expect to be right all the time.


Nov 29 2016, 12:16pm

Post #13 of 19 (1162 views)
Yes, your last sentence strikes a chord...... [In reply to] Can't Post

...for me too. Writing history you realise pretty quickly that no matter how careful you are, you're only as good as the evidence you have. Better evidence might turn up any day, and then everything you thought you knew can change.

There's no harm in being wrong, or being prepared to admit it!


Nov 29 2016, 2:49pm

Post #14 of 19 (1156 views)
that's how it works! [In reply to] Can't Post

that's why scientists will never say "yes, this is definitely true" - the best they can say is "to the best of our knowledge right now, this seems to be the case." Which those who are not trained in scientific thinking often take as waffling or uncertainty, but it isn't. Keeping an open mind to what new evidence might come along is not the same as saying "we're not sure."

For instance, a paper was recently published that appears to refute Newton's third law! (Did you feel the tremor in the Force?) http://www.sciencealert.com/...nally-been-published
I haven't clicked through yet to read the actual paper but intend to soon, with great interest. But I'm pretty sure scientists will still rely on Newton's third law in most cases.

I was surprised when I switched to the humanities late in life to find the same attitude prevails. There, every viewpoint ever expressed is still learned and honored, no matter what later thinkers have said. I was told "you are now participating in a conversation that's gone on for over 2500 years. Before you speak, you need to study what has been said before you entered the room. Once you've mastered that, we will be very interested in what you have to add."

Similar advice is often given to TORN newbies Wink

So no one can ever say "here's THE truth, end of conversation."

(This post was edited by Annael on Nov 29 2016, 2:50pm)


Nov 29 2016, 5:22pm

Post #15 of 19 (1136 views)
Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows if future experience will contradict its conclusion; and furthermore there are always other conceptual systems imaginable which might coordinate the very same facts.
-Albert Einstein, "Induction and Deduction in Physics", Berliner Tageblatt, 25 December 1919.

(Heavily paraphrased for popular consumption as "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right, but a single experiment can prove me wrong.")

Tol Eressea

Dec 2 2016, 7:11pm

Post #16 of 19 (1047 views)
hmmmmmmm [In reply to] Can't Post

Good points folks.

Snopes was pointed out to me by a friend (who wrangles a camera for a local TV news station) when I reblogged a blip about Trump and Canada that turned out to be a spoof.


I tend to pay attention to National Public Radio and PBS. If it's there it's real.

Yeah, checking other stuff is a good thing.

Superuser / Moderator

Dec 3 2016, 8:03pm

Post #17 of 19 (1032 views)
I voted 'sometimes' [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't imagine having enough time in the day to always fact check. The one exception is when I'm posting stories to TORn's Home page in which case I always spend the time to seek out the original piece and give credit to them with a link and a mention.

With news in general, I already spend a good part of my spare time reading news, opinion pieces, researching topics that interest me, etc,. and always have news on the radio while I'm driving. I purposely go out of my way to check out stories that interest me by seeking out a number of sources and, if an internet story offers links to the sources of the facts they're using, I spend way too much time 'clicking through.' Laugh With regard to politics and current events, I DVR and watch all of the Sunday a.m. shows, am a big fan of the show 60 Minutes here in the U.S., and always like to read transcripts of actual interviews and speeches if I can find them, so quite often I've heard or read what someone has said, in context, with my own ears.

Being such a news/information junkie has taught me a few things:

1 - there's a big difference between facts and opinions, and a whole bunch of grey area in between, no matter the source

2 - the MSM is gravitating more and more from the fact end of the spectrum to the opinion end, often blending the two (there's that grey area)

3 - there's no such thing as a news or opinion outlet that gets or reports their facts right all of the time, or that is 100% unbiased

4 - there's no real issue with the above as long as I take almost everything with a grain of salt and consider not just the outlet, but the individual doing the writing or reporting

Accepting those things has helped me enjoy my information/news seeking much more and has hopefully broadened my horizons.


Dec 16 2016, 5:16pm

Post #18 of 19 (847 views)
Sometimes; other times, I just flat-out ignore internet facts. [In reply to] Can't Post

I also have a deep loathing for people who say mass murders didn't happen.


Dec 16 2016, 8:57pm

Post #19 of 19 (838 views)
Internet Facts [In reply to] Can't Post

Internet facts? Aren't those contradictory terms? Evil


Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.