Recently, I was reminded of the late Dr. Randy Pausch, whose 2007 talk entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” became a viral sensation. Pausch had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was aware that his days were numbered.
In the lecture, Pausch shared the most important lessons he learned in life, including, “If I only had three words of advice, they would be, “tell the truth.” If I had three more words, I'd add, all the time.”
Sometimes the truth is hard to discern. In this era of fake news - and frankly, fake news in the form of yellow journalism has been around a long time - how do you know what’s fake or real?
Here’s some tips from FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Consider the source. Look at the URL, which is often a dead giveaway. They cite a story from abcnews.com.co. It’s close, but it’s not the actual URL for ABC News.
Read past the headline. If a provocative headline drew your attention, read a little further. An example - an article headlined “Jimmy Carter: Medical Marijuana Cured My Cancer.” It includes an alleged quote from Carter that says, “I smoke two joints in the morning, I smoke two joints at night, I smoke two joint in the afternoon, and it makes me feel all right.” Really? Would a former president say this?
Check the author. Another tell-tale sign of a fake story is often the byline. If the story seems bogus, or the bio is a little too grand, google the author’s name and see what comes up.
Consult the experts. If you’re suspicious of the content, check out FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com.
But even the “experts” get it wrong sometime. The revered New York Times has unwittingly spread misinformation in their rush to get a story out. So my advice boils down to use your judgment.