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Evaluating Information

The Need for this Guide

The need to evaluate the information we receive is not new, but still very relevant. This guide is designed to help you better understand why it is important to carefully check your sources. The world today affords us with the opportunity to take in information from multiple outlets, including the internet. While the internet has many great resources, it can equally be a place of misinformation. It can be difficult to separate legitimate news from fake news. Furthermore, in academia it can be difficult to spot predatory journals or avoid plagiarism. Therefore, checking your sources based on bias and facts help exclude harmful information and include accurate resources.


Brief History

Evaluating information may seem easy or relatively new given the wide variety of information we receive today. However, the history of "fake news" is not so recent as one might expect.

In 1475 false stories were spread by a Franciscan preacher named Bernardino da Feltre, about members of the Jewish community claiming they had killed a 2-year old boy to celebrate passover. In the mid 16th Century the philosopher Voltaire became a political activist against fake religious news explaining natural events. In the 19th and 20th Century, fake news spread throughout the American South depicting black men as rapists of white women, these scathing reports were riddled with bias, hate, and falsehoods. One of the most famous cases involved Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst during the Spanish-American War creating sensational news stories to compete against each other. This was referred to as Yellow Journalism. 

Source: Politico Magazine

Simplified Evaluation

 Illustration of a cell phone with caption "How to spot fake news"

How False News Can Spread (video 3:41)