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The Week in Fact-Checking: Facts actually are good for you

While the United States is in the midst of a fact-light election featuring two of the most mistrusted candidates in history, there’s a bit of hope. A new study indicates that people can learn what’s true and what’s false after reading fact checks of political claims.

Quote of the week

“…media people have to do something to regain some control over their integrity. Right now they’re being played for suckers by manipulators whose propaganda skills are vastly better than journalists’ apparent ability to do their jobs.” —  Dan Gillmor in The Atlantic

‘Science Vs’ and the art of using humor to bust myths
The “Science Vs” podcast is reminiscent of other nerdy-skeptical radio shows like the BBC’s “More or Less.” But it also very much fits into a pattern – truer of radio and TV than of written media — of using fact-checking to comedic effect. Check out the profile of host Wendy Zukerman on Poynter.

The Zuckerberg/Trump hoax that went around the world
A screenshot of an alleged conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and a user asking to remove Donald Trump from Facebook went viral, in part because the Facebook founder “promised” to consider the petition if it was popular. It was in fact a fake, fact-checked by France Info, Sweden’s Viralgranskaren and others.

Evergreen fact checks
This 8-year old fact check of Barack Obama’s birth certificate came in handy again last week as Donald Trump announced he was finally on board with the truth.

Why are some people so confused about fact-checking?
Here’s why. The Daily Dot posts an article about the “best fact-checking sites” and divides them into “Non-partisan fact-checking” and “Partisan fact-checking.” Note to the Daily Dot: There is no such thing as legitimate “partisan” fact-checking.

Fact-checking the debate (or not)
This time, it’s different, says Univision’s Jorge Ramos. The U.S. presidential election is not business as usual this year, argues the longtime television journalist, and debate moderators shouldn’t treat it that way. Here’s why he’s asking moderators to “please take sides.”

Pushing back on post-fact
In The Guardian, Tracey Brown of “Sense about Science” writes that “The idea of a ‘post-truth society’ is elitist and obnoxious.”  Bill Adair of Duke University and PolitiFact also address the topic in a long interview on PBS’ The Open Mind.

Turns out people haven’t had enough of experts or facts
In a new poll commissioned by the British Institute for Government, 85 percent of respondents agreed that it is important for politicians to consult professionals and experts when making difficult decisions. A similar number agreed that decisions should be made using objective evidence. Someone didn’t read the memo from Michael Gove.

Get smarter faster. Enroll in our free, online fact-checking course. 

Fact-checking Hollywood
Was it really necessary for Bridget Jones to insist that her two potential baby-daddies stand by her side during her pregnancy in “Bridget Jones’ Baby?”  New York Magazine fact-checks paternity testing for expectant (and Hollywood) mothers.

Some fact-checking fun
Using just about every box and bar of candy you’ve ever heard of, Stephen Colbert fact-checks Eric Trump’s icky “Skittles” meme about Syrian refugees. Watch it.

Quick fact-checking links

(1) The Washington Post Fact Checker turned nine and got a new section. (2) This post-fact thing has gotten out of control. (3) Twelve dubious claims from the Front National’s summer festival. (4) Spain is not the most unequal country in Europe. (5) ICYMI, that fact-checking in real time video now has more than half a million views.

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