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Fake News, Propaganda, and Misinformation: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." --Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Newsweek, 25 August 1986, p. 27.

Fake News and Beyond: Other Types of Bad Information Sources

Adapted from definitions used by Melissa Zimdars' Open Sources project that classifies websites for credibility.

  • Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.
  • Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, satire, and false information to comment on current events.
  • State-sponsored News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanctions and control. Propaganda.
  • Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics,* naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically false or dubious claims. For a detailed article on the nature of pseudoscience, see the Foreword to Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy against Science, MIT Press, 2018.
  • Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination.
  • Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.
  • Proceed With Caution: Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification.
  • Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
  • Credible: Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism. (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).


    * While metaphysics does have a bona fide and legitimate role in science, there are plenty of sites that misuse metaphysics, presenting speculative ideas about science as if they were hard facts, and that’s what the reader is being cautioned to filter out.