Carl Sagan´s Guide to Fake News is an activity designed to help us with fact-checking.
This activity has been run at the Science Museum, the Big Bang Fair and made several special appearances for World Space Week. This page makes the activity available in online form providing a set of stories for you to investigate. Before you do so though, I recommend you read this article on fact-checking and familiarize yourself with Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Toolkit from his book: “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark”.
Stories to investigate:
- Japanese astronaut grows in space and now say he’s worried he won’t properly fit in the capsule bring him back
- University of Surrey invents space-hoover
- Voyager 2 spacecraft reprogrammed by aliens
- Jupiter has liquid metallic hydrogen ocean
- 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
- Paypal was invented by accident
- Fairies photographed
The linked articles above 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.
For World Space Week in October 2020, there was an online Q&A on Carl Sagan´s Guide to Fake News. You can see the Q&A here. You can also view the Disinformation Pandemic webinar here which deals with impact of fake news during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are interested in finding out more about fake news or want to do more research for yourself here are a set of useful links:
- Infotagion.com – Fact checking website for Corona Virus stories
- Snopes.com – good for checking “modern myths”
- Fullfact.org – good for UK political/economic stories
- EUvsdisinfo.eu – EU sponsored site dealing with Russia originated “Fake News”
- Article on how to do basic fact checking
- Shortened version of Carl Sagan’s Baloney detection kit
- Full version of Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit
- BBC News clip on stopping the spread of misinformation
- David Robson’s article on how to deal with conspiracy theorists
I will continue to update this page, which you can access directly at faxenews.jmitch.co.uk.
If you want to contact me you can tweet or send a direct message to @jmitch_co_uk or leave a comment below.
I will also continue to add to the stories and provide updates on the feedback received.