03 - Sources and Fact Checking
Where your information comes from is extremely important. It can taint the information you receive or could provide you with misinformation. Not all information is correct, so by that logic, some information has to be wrong. Sources allow you to increase your chances of receiving correct information.
On matters of science, the best source you can go for is the combined sum of all peer-reviewed studies and the body of established science, because the established science is constructed from peer-reviewed studies and the scrutiny of experts in their field. Bias sources would be online or TV personalities, news pundits, news anchors, newspaper articles, and so on.
It gets trickier when you have a small number of scientists going against the scientific consensus. There's always the possibility that they might be onto something everyone else was wrong on, but this isn't several hundred years ago when established science was a relatively flakey concept. Modern science's foundation is much more solid than the "we used to think the sun revolved around the earth" days.
With respect to that, that's why I say that the established science isn't toppled by "this doctor said this", or "this scientist said this."
Regardless of the subject, always follow the trail of information. By that, I mean if you see an article saying, "a new study shows 5g causes cancer", then click on that article and source the study they reference. Sometimes they reference it only by name, sometimes they will hyperlink it. Follow the trail of information.
Sometimes, you'll find they you link back to their own pages saying "we've had word that...", or even sometimes they link back to the exact page you're reading. Does this look like a good source? Let's say you actually get to the study, now it's time to do some reading. You might find that this "new study showing 5g causes cancer", is actually that decade long 2G rat study I keep mentioning, and the very authors say it doesn't apply to 5G technology. This moves onto the next point.
When you read articles online, they're often misleading and sensationalised to get clicks. When you see a link to a video of someone speaking, the same may apply. Then you read the article or watch the video of the person speaking. You cannot take this at face value. The reason? People are fallible and susceptible to confirmation bias and also personal incredulity. This includes both videos of common people, videos of doctors and scientists, and articles written by journalists.
Everyone has the chance to be wrong, and no one's right on everything. You might find that intelligent people who are good-natured in their delivery, have wonky political affiliations or conflicts of interest that cloud their judgment of the evidence.
You should also be aware of why studies with "small sample sizes" are usually deemed unreliable. This means they study such a small number of subjects that the results won't reflect the actual application of an experiment on enough subjects to provide accurate results. Interference or anomalies are hard to account for. This is why listening to one or two "experts" rather than the consensus amongst the majority of experts is dangerous. You're not able to account for anomalies, and if you cherry-pick "experts" to prove your point, you could very well be picking the anomalies who provide misleading information.
Getting back on track. You've seen the title of a video or headline, and you've read the article or heard them speak. What is the substance of their text or speech? What claims do they make? What specifically are they saying? Do they make claims without citing evidence or proof? For example:
Here's a video of David Icke talking about why 5G is a weapon. Now, this might look, sound, and be very convincing. He knows what he's talking about right? He's being interviewed, he talks with conviction, and he's got a commanding charisma. But what's the substance here? More importantly, what are the claims, and what justification is used for each claim?
Take away the video, and you take away his commanding charisma and the fact that he's being professionally interviewed. Take away his voice and you take away the conviction. Let's take away the filler, and examine his specific claims and his justification for them.
Claim: 5G is a weapon.
Reason: It's used by the military "in a much higher power than 5G".
In reality: He's talking about V-MAD's. According to global security's website:
"Active Denial Technology uses a transmitter to send a narrow beam of 95-GHz millimeter waves towards an identified subject. Traveling at the speed of light, the energy reaches the subject and penetrates less than 1/64 of an inch into the skin, quickly heating up the skin's surface"
"Despite the sensation, the technology does not cause injury because of the low energy levels used."
Ofcom have tested 5g masts in the UK. Here is the report. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have set safety guidelines for 5G. Ofcom's testing didn't return a value above 2% of those safety guidelines.
So let's examine this for a moment. 5G is a weapon because radio frequencies are used by the military for crowd dispersal? That's like saying water pistols are designed to put out burning buildings because firefighting hoses also use water. Even though he acknowledged that the military weapons operate "in a much higher power than 5G", that's a bit of an understatement isn't it? A fire hose isn't "in a much higher power than water pistols". They aren't even in the same league. They aren't comparable.
The justification doesn't match the claim. If you took this at face value, then it's convincing. If you fact check it, it's the complete opposite. It goes on and on in this video. For example purposes, the video's first claim is absolute nonsense and it easily disprovable.
The source of information is David Icke, a man who sells books on how the world is full of reptilian elites. Not metaphorical reptiles, actual reptiles masquerading as people. He makes a living, continues to make his living, and has made his reputation off being an alternative-thinker.
So on the topic of "is 5G a conspiracy", is he the most reliable source? Absolutely not. He's going to find any and all ways he can of proving that 5G is a danger and a conspiracy, regardless of what the evidence actually says because that's what his reputation is and that's where his living comes from. He gets paid for speaking events, interviews, and book sales. He has a huge conflict of interest and issues with confirmation bias.
Then you fact-check his claims and find there isn't any substance there. You take away his personal charm and allure, his conviction and speaking ability, and you find his claims to be justified with very vague, generic, assumed or just plain wrong information, and on top of that, it's easy to fact-check it to be incorrect.
This is why it's important to use valid sources to limit confirmation bias and conflict of interest. That's why fact-checking is important because when you strip away the emotional manipulation, the filler, and the personal command of the speaker, you find their claims, justifications, and evidence to be awful.
I actually have a more updated and rubust section on fact-checking later on in the critical-thinking section. If you persist with these pages you'll get there eventually, or alternatively, you can skip to it here.
Aside from following the trail of information and reading the source, you should be skeptical of every piece of information. Not just the government's information, or "experts", or institutions, but of people, alternative-thinkers, and everyone in between.
As I've said previously, I believe most people do what they think is right, but that doesn't make them correct. People are fallible, victim to confirmation bias, conflict of interest, logical fallacies, and being wrong in general.
The following links are a good place to start for not only fact-checking but learning how to fact-check by seeing how others do it:
Fact Check - https://www.factcheck.org/
News Science Fact-Check - https://sciencefeedback.co/
Reuters Fact Checker - https://www.reuters.com/fact-check
Full Fact - https://fullfact.org/
Check Your Fact - https://checkyourfact.com/
Media Bias fact Check - https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/
Metabunk - https://www.metabunk.org/forums/#metabunk.6
Politifact - https://www.politifact.com/
Associated Foreign Press Fact Check - https://factcheck.afp.com/
Moving on, let's go over the types of bias in science and it's interpretation which can lead people to cherry-pick studies of any quality to prove their point. I will also go over scientific terminologies for understanding what you're reading.
Next Page: Science - Terminology and Bias