Masks serve many purposes. How sad that they’ve become politicized.

I’ve seen the original meme on my social media feed. I’ve fixed it. The purpose of the first three masks differs from the purpose of the fourth mask. The first three masks are designed to protect the wearer from breathing in harmful things in the environment. The mask Dr. Fauci wears is designed not to protect Dr. Fauci from the virus, but to protect people around Dr. Fauci from droplets…

No, this photo of people wearing coats standing in front of bare trees was not a fake news media attempt to misrepresent what’s happening in Texas and Arizona in July

It’s distressing and shocking to realize that some people are more willing to spread conspiracy theory shit than it they are to check their sources. Isn’t it the bad guys who are supposed to be spreading lies? I like reading news stories for myself, rather than spreading disinformation on social media. How hard is it to Google for “Refrigerated trucks requested in Texas and Arizona as morgues fill up due…

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No, Dr. Anthony Fauci did not write the “How dare you you risk the lives of others so cavalierly?” essay

A copy-paste meme I’ve encountered recently compares chickenpox, herpes and HIV with COVID-19, and builds up to a powerful rebuke to those who dismiss the seriousness of the current pandemic. I was particularly moved by these words: For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want…

Fact check: DeVos never said ‘only’ 0.02% of children will die if schools reopen in the fall

Several times in the past few days I’ve come across this claim in my social media feed. I didn’t share it or try to fact-check it; I just kept scrolling. Here’s the verdict, from USA Today: “Based on our research, this claim is FALSE. While the education secretary has advocated for schools reopening in the fall, DeVos never said that ‘only’ 0.02% of children are likely to die of COVID-10…

No, Trump’s tweet about “Heritage, History, and Greatness” is not a quote from a speech Hitler gave in 1939

Trump really did tweet “This is a battle to save the Heritage, History, and Greatness of our Country!” Plugging those words into Google Translate yields “Dies ist ein Kampf um die Rettung des Erbes, der Geschichte und der Größe unseres Landes!” I could be wrong, but I think Größe in German just means “physical size,” or “dimensions” rather than “greatness” in the sense of “having achieved many great things.” Hitler…

When is Donald Trump kidding? When is he being sarcastic? When is he being serious? Who gets to decide?

Earlier today a reporter, following her journalism training, asked Trump, “Were you just kidding, or do you have a plan to slow down testing?” His response: “I don’t kid, let me just tell you.” At this weekend’s Tulsa rally, the president had said, referring to the US response to the coronavirus pandemic, “I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.” Monday his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the…

Fox News, accused of manipulating news images, relabels them as “collages,” “regrets these errors”

Using bits and pieces of real news in order to distort the public perception of a story is unethical. Not all news organizations distort the truth this way. What do you think about the ones that do? Today, Fox re-labeled three different altered images, identifying each as a “collage” and posting a note that says the company “regrets these errors.” Fox used a dramatic photograph of a person running past…

There’s nothing like a fair-minded, good-faith analysis of the facts

There’s nothing like a fair-minded, good-faith analysis of the facts. And this article from PJMedia is nothing like a fair-minded, good faith analysis. I see it instead as a cynical attempt to cloud the truth by feeding conspiracy theories. An actual news story would lead with the evidence — any charges filed against Gugino, quotes from a witness whose first-hand experiences challenge the mainstream interpretation of the video, behind-the-scenes photos…

Police Department, Fire Department Tell Different Versions of Same Richmond Incident

A Richmond police official and a fire official agree that Sunday, multiple individuals interfered with a fire truck’s response to a fire. But beyond that, each source tells a rather different story.

I just watched a pretty good Star Trek episode exploring the premise that well-intentioned people can remember and sincerely believe widely different interpretations of the same events, without being intentionally deceptive.

When equally credible sources make conflicting claims, there’s probably a story there somewhere. If a source makes unverifiable claims, or won’t respond to legitimate follow-up questions, or vilifies or aggrandizes a third party, that’s a good reason to be skeptical.

Meme unfairly blames “protesters” for four crimes

A Facebook meme that claims “3 of these 4 honorable men were killed by ‘protesters’” is false. I don’t mean that I can prove that not a single one of the guilty parties ever participated in a protest. However, Police never connected Beaty’s death with the protests (and the FBI declined to do so when asked). Police sent out an alert that specified Underwood’s death was unrelated to protests. Dorn…

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Minneapolis protest cleanup: Did you share this meme without fact-checking it? (Don’t spread fake news about the news.)

A Facebook meme with 52k reactions and 37k shares includes pictures of volunteers cleaning the streets in Minneapolis, the day after mass protests of the death of George Floyd. The pictures make a powerful point about the values of the community. However, the text includes an unnecessary slam against journalism, because it introduces the images with “Images you won’t see in the news.” I searched news.google.com for “minneapolis protesters cleaning”…

Carolyn Gombell Is Not a Real Person: #JusticeforCarolyn Is a Campaign Against Twitter Refusing to Delete Trump’s Tweets Accusing Joe Scarborough of Murdering Lori Klausutis

Fascinating use of social media. To be clear, this story about “Carolyn Gombell” is a fabrication, intended to spark Twitter to take action against people (such as Donald Trump) who use Twitter to publicize unfounded accusations. Will that matter to people who share it? It’s parody accounts, not journalists, who are retweeting this story as if it’s true. Will that matter to people who already think “the media” are unified…

Kimmel’s Jab at Pence’s “empty box” joke illustrates a bi-partisan #fakenews problem

If, like pollster Matthew McDermott, you shared (or at least chuckled at) that Jimmy Kimmel clip of VP Pence joking about delivering empty boxes because it confirms what you already believe about Pence; or, if you feel the C-SPAN clip that unfairly makes the VP look bad confirms your attitude about the lying America-hating media, then you (like so many of us humans) are part of the #fakenews problem. Like…

Another NewsBreak.com Exclusive Exposes a Royal Family Lie #FakeNews

You sheep who trust the lamestream fake news media think you know them as Prince Charles, the heir to the UK throne, and Prince Harry; but this exclusive from NewsBreak.com exposes them as a married couple who died of COVID-19 within hours of each other. You’ve heard of newsbreak.com. They’re the source that exposed this lie: I treat my ignorance like a delicate flower, so I won’t see for myself…

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No, This Beach Photo Doesn’t Prove The Media Is Lying

Have you seen this image mashup being cited as evidence that you should wake up because “the media” is lying to you? Newsbreak.com is an aggregator. Its business model is scraping stories off of various places on the Internet and reposting them on its own site. I found a page on newsbreak.com with the headline “Los Angeles County records highest daily death toll,” but the story says nothing at all…

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Fake Graph: The Actual “Dunning-Kruger Effect” Is NOTHING Like I Thought It Was

For years, I’ve been teaching a fake graph. In pretty much every course I teach, on some day when students seem discouraged or distracted, I’ll draw an X axis labeled “Experience” and a Y-axis labeled “Confidence,” and sketch out the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” curve, as preparation for an informal pep talk, which goes something like this: When learning anything new, beginners tend to learn so much when they are first exposed…