On 22 and 23 October 2018 I ran an activity I designed at the Science Museum in London: “Carl Sagan’s Guide to Fake News” as part of the Science Museum´s We Are Engineers Family Festival supporting the Government’s “2018 year of engineering” initiative. It was a lot of fun.
If you´ve read any of these blogs before you will know that I promote Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Toolkit from his book: “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark”. This toolkit helps us to distinguish between truth and spoof, and is more applicable than ever in the era of Social Media. I´ve written before on how it can help us debate reasonably, and assist with fact-checking.
The activity at the Science Museum consisted of a TV newsroom, where museum visitors acted as a news team investigating a set of stories that could be science or baloney, or a bit of both, using techniques from Sagan´s toolkit.
Some of the stories used in the activity were:
- The origin of the revolving door
- The revolving door was an attack on chivalry
- Diet of fish can prevent teen violence
- Farmer shoots 23lb grasshopper
The articles also contain a link to an online survey where you can plot your assessment of each story on the “scale of baloney”. Once you have voted you can click onto a further page where you can see the “facts” behind each story, and understand how the baloney detection toolkit can help you navigate your way to the truth.
Carl Sagan‘s Guide to Fake News will live on online, here, and I will continue to update this page, which you can access directly faxenews.jmitch.co.uk. I will also continue to add to the stories and provide updates on the feedback received.