Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

The week in fact-checking: Another day *not* at the office

FCP logoThe American Press Institute presents a roundup from the world of fact-checking, debunking and truth-telling — just in case you haven’t been paying as much attention as we do.

Quote of the week
“By the way, my fact-checking on Twitter, some people get annoyed by it, and I think I’m misunderstood. I fact-check movies because I love the movie. If I didn’t like the movie I would not even spend that much brain energy analyzing it.” — Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, from an interview with Vox’s Todd VanDer Werff

Fact check of the week
Which presidential candidate is ahead in the playing-hooky-from-Congress contest? While Sen. Marco Rubio seems to get the most criticism for missing congressional votes while he’s on the campaign trail, he needs to step up his game. His 30 percent missed-votes record (so far) looks puny next to former Sen. John Kerry’s 62 percent in the 2004 election. D’Angelo Gore of FactCheck.org charts the numbers. Read it.

Research4620398999_1651f52693_z
It appears we all must be much more convincing when we’re telling Aunt Melba or our 12-year-old niece that Justin Bieber actually did not save a Russian man from a bear attack. New research indicates that “attempts at debunking are largely ineffective” on Facebook and other social media because the correct information isn’t reaching the people who saw the incorrect information. Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post rather sadly writes about the study. Read it.

Fact-checking the 2016 elections
Documentary filmmaker and “general troublemaker” Morgan Spurlock says he’s angered by the [expletive] flowing from the 2016 presidential debates. So he and his staff stayed up all night after the recent GOP debate to produce a fact-checking video subtitled, “Just because they say it, doesn’t mean it’s true.” Spurlock tells Slate’s Scott Timberg they’ll do the same for upcoming debates. Read it. Watch it.

Technology of fact-checking
On those debates: Here’s a little story about technology that doesn’t exist, but could. Rob Enderle writes in TechNewsWorld about his ideas for politician avatars and bringing in the big guns (Siri and Watson) to help fact-check future debates. Anything’s possible, right? Read it.

Tips for better fact-checking


Add this to your list of social media red flags: Be wary of any plane crash videos, advises Tom Trewinnard of Checkdesk. A careless tweet by an Egyptian television station showed a plane crash from 2013 and passed it off as breaking news. They were appropriately Twitter-shamed. Read it.

scicheck_square logoFact-checking science
SciCheck, the science-checking channel of the non-profit FactCheck.org, is finishing up a year of fact-checking scientific claims, often from the world of politics. And it’ll be around for another year, thanks to new funding. Julia Donheiser of the Duke Reporters’ Lab talks with Dave Levitan, the science journalist behind SciCheck who enumerates the many ways that politics and science don’t mix. Read it.

Fact-checking Hollywood15994821479_462a7e6cc3_z
If you’re a Star Trek fan, fact-checking fiction is not an oxymoron at all. The “Star Trek Fact Check” blog continues its voyage through “fifty years of claims” about the series. This week, they admirably document the on-scene credits from season 2. Read it.

Have you published or read a great fact check? We’d love to see it. Send us a link. 

  • Paul J. Murray

    Is it True Warren Buffet
    would lose 2 Billion dollars a year if the Keystone Pipeline was approved, supposedly he controls the shipping of oil and owns the railroad in that region and is a Big supporter donations to Obams?

  • Paul J. Murray

    Can some one verify or deny my question below about Warran Buffet and the Keystone pipeline? thanks……

    • Jeff Sonderman

      Paul, thanks for your question. I should point out that we are not a news organization. API is a nonprofit that among many other things encourages journalists to do fact checking of this nature, but to investigate any specific claim like that you should approach a news organization that is covering this subject and ask them to report on it.

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