How to Be a Good Googler
1. Evaluate the source:
- (a) Who wrote the article? (b) Are they a relevant expert?
- Who funds the site? [Go to the “About” section, also search wikipedia].
- Is the site committed to a position or are they advocates for an interest group? Check on a 3rd party website by googling the name of the website or organization.
- Is the site selling something related to the article?
- Does the article link to outside sources? If yes, are those sources reliable? Note: Many dubious websites will link to themselves or to their sister websites.
- If an article links to a study as support, check (a) was study retracted? (Google the study followed by “retracted”) (b) was is published in a credible journal? (Check by googling the name of the journal and see what 3rd party websites say about it.)
2. Many false claims, studies, myths, and misleading stories can be checked typing in [description of story or claim] + debunked. E.g., Moon landing was faked debunked. This is a good way to start you search.
3. Search within list of relevant credible websites. (See list below)
4. For political news, check mainstream and “alt” websites. Be sure to also visit fact-checking websites. Political news is perhaps the most difficult for getting the full story.
5. For general topics, wikipedia is a great place to start. It will contain links to relevant sources. Check the primary sources.
List of Reliable Websites
A caveat. Reliability is a scalar rather than binary concept. In plain English, this means that reliability is a matter of degree. When I designate a source as reliable, I’m not saying it’s infallible. There are no infallible sources and to dismiss a source as unreliable merely because it commits a small number of errors would be to commit the nirvana/perfectionist fallacy. When we evaluate sources for reliability, our assessment should be comparative and one of degree. Relative to most other online sources, the sources below are reliable.
Wikipedia is a good place to start any investigation. The article will usually indicate contested claims and you can look in the footnotes to verify and assess sources and evidence. https://www.wikipedia.org/
Urban Myths and General: http://www.snopes.com/ Some people commit the nirvana fallacy when they dismiss Snopes. Snopes has made errors (just like any human endeavor) but they make fewer errors than most sources. Again, this is a good place to begin your fact checking.
Fact Checking Conspiracies and Science Denialism
General: https://www.metabunk.org/ (Links to an external site.)
9-11 Conspiracies http://www.debunking911.com/ (Links to an external site.)
Climate Change Claims https://skepticalscience.com/ (Links to an external site.)
GMO Claims http://fafdl.org/wiki/index.php?title=Biotech_Archive (Links to an external site.)
Paranormal Claims, Pseudoscience, Conspiracies: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Main_Page (Links to an external site.)
Politics and Economics
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/ (Links to an external site.)
http://www.factcheck.org/ (Links to an external site.)
http://www.npr.org/sections/politics-fact-check (Links to an external site.)
Stats on Gov’t Spending and Budgets: https://www.cbo.gov/ (Links to an external site.)
Stats on the Economy: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/ (Links to an external site.)
Independent Journalism: https://theintercept.com/ (Links to an external site.)
Health, Fitness, and Medical Claims
http://www.quackwatch.org/ (Links to an external site.)
http://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ (Links to an external site.)
Bodybuilding: http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/ (Links to an external site.)