Seven tips to help you become a better fact checker

Guest post by Mary Ward
Fact checking allows you to separate fact from fiction.

If you do not want to be fooled by inaccuracies that you read or hear then you need to know what to do and where to go to find the truth.

Otherwise, you will be forced to wonder if what you hear is true but may never know for sure. Here are 7 tips to be a better fact checker.

1. FactCheck.org

To find the facts, you need to know where to look. FactCheck.org helps you to clarify the truth when it comes to political issues. This is often an area filled with questionable claims and bold declarations so you need a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. This site is one way to do that.

2. Politifact.com

Politifact.com is another website for confirming or disproving claims made in political forums such as debates, speeches, interviews, or even press releases. Politics is an arena known for its widespread deceit and half-truths so the ability to discover the truth in all the posturing is essential. This website is a valuable tool to this end.

3. Snopes.com

Snopes.com contains a collection of information on popular myths. These myths may be inaccurate news stories, urban legends, or even celebrity gossip claims. This website is a great source to discover the truth on a variety of subjects. Whether you want to check on something that was recently stated or that has been a widely held belief for years, there is a good chance that this website will be able to clear up any misinformation surrounding the issue.

4.  ScamBusters.org/ScamCheck.html

ScamBusters.org is the place to go when you want to know if something is a scam. From credit card scams to computer viruses this website educates you on the nature of these scams, how to avoid them, and what to do if you fall victim to a scam.

5. UrbanLegends.About.com

This website seeks to clear up the untruths that accompany or that make up urban legends. UrbanLegends.About.com helps you to understand the difference between a hoax and a rumor and to spot each one. Covering a wide range of topics, this website will make you a better fact checker in that you gain access to topics that may be difficult to locate anywhere else.

6. Be a better fact checker using any search engine

You also have the option of beginning with the search engine of your choice. You merely type in the keywords for the topic that you wish to know the veracity of and also type in words to check its truthfulness. You may try using myth, hoax, scam, fact check, or fraud as words alongside your main topic to see if your main topic is true. While this is not always the best way to search, for widely known falsities a simple search such as this can quickly uncover many hoaxes.

7. Take your time

In the end, the best fact checking tip is to take your time. There is no substitute for thorough research methodologies. This is the most important of the 7 tips to become a better fact checker. Even as you use all these tips for great fact checking resources, you need to remember that you must do whatever it takes to find the truth.

  1. This is such a worthwhile guest post. Paying a little attention to these will save you big headaches and embarrassment. I especially love the point about slowing down. In that regard it’s just like proofing your writing otherwise.
    George

  2. Thanks, George! Glad you found them useful, and that you agree!
    By the way, I do have more guest post articles on writing if you are interested in one ;). You can email me at mwardbmg at gmail dot com

    1. @George Thanks for the comment and support as always George. I’ve spent most of the year concentrating on posts that were mainly related to fiction writing, so I thought it would be nice to fetaure something aimed more at journalists and the like. I think Write for Your Life’s readers can be forgiven for perhaps forgetting that I’m actually a full-time professional copywriter!
      @Mary Thank you for getting in touch and submitting this post – much appreciated. A speedy turnaround, eh?!

  3. This should become a viral email so all those who keep forwarding urban legends must read it. Imagine how much email clutter we’d lose if people would check before hitting “Forward.”
    As for writing … writers just have to be savvy about figuring out what info is accurate and not accurate. I remember researching a story and came across data on a reputable site. I added it to my story and finished it. Then when I went back, I wanted to be sure about the facts. Later, I find out that fact was wrong. Scary and grateful I took the time to check.

  4. And don’t forget that checking facts can help make your fiction writing better as well. You never want someone to stop reading because incorrect facts broke the flow of the storyline.

    1. @Bree You’re absolutely right there. My novel is about a man who is caring for his wife after she’s had a stroke, so I had to do a LOT of research to make sure I did the subject justice while maintaining the flow of the narrative. Tough!

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