An increasing problem is that more people are becoming convinced of the argument – an argument particularly espoused by proponents of controversial theories – that a person’s only choices are believing in one entire group of facts over another group, rather than being prepared to check what are currently acknowledged as being facts, by the broadest and most accredited number of sources across a spectrum, when considering an article. And then reading the whole piece before deciding what conclusions they are happy to accept, and what requires further information before making up their mind whether to agree or disagree. In other words to acknowledge and accept that it is possible to partially agree with an argument being made and still have questions about how certain parts of that argument have been supported by facts and figures that do not stand up well to scrutiny.
Avram Turing uses an analytical content checklist that is descriptive: all it does is point out what is (as far as anyone can define here and now) fact and what is disputed or plainly untrue. This checklist does not make a statement that people must not read a particular trending article online. Nor does it state that a reader must or even should agree with the rating that the checklist produced. Readers still have the choice on what they choose to believe. But, it is an informed choice.
We must take on board the concept that history is a mutable thing: that it is not unusual for ‘facts’ from a period of history to be discounted or to be broadened to include further research by people many years later. The checklist system Avram Turing presents is not prescriptive. It is not a ruling demanding that readers must either accept or reject the particular article that has been rated. Nor is it saying that once an article has been scored using the checklist that scoring cannot be reconsidered. It can. More to the point, it should. if and when new information comes to hand that has a bearing on how truthful or not stated ‘facts’ are within the article, the scoring (and even the label) will be reconsidered.
Based on feedback from the public, we are building into the checklist system a regular revisiting of the most major articles historically that have been rated by us. We can then place an additional rating on how well the article has stood up factually. Not only is this fair it will also be a useful resource for those interested in researching how and why apparent ‘truths’ and opinions change over longer periods of time. How what was once viewed as a general, normal, consensus can change as we learn more about the experiences of other parts of society.
Some people might ask; what is the point of the checklist?. What is the point of bothering with those who believe the words of commentators and writers who are either lying outright or being incredibly selective in the facts and statistics they use in order to ‘prove’ their theory? The problem is, however, that if we step back online from engaging with people who are making comments about facts not being true etc., we run the risk of those people who are on the outskirts of some of the more awful controversial theories being well and truly sucked in. And then I think there is very little chance of getting them back into the general centrist society.
Obviously, there are some caveats. There are people, who over and over again, refuse to even entertain the concept that what they say are facts might not be: people who refuse to acknowledge that there can even be a discussion, a back and forth, about the subject in question. People who will not even read another person’s evidence of a different perspective before denouncing it all as lies. All one can do then is offer the checklist system as a tool to use and then back off for a time, without disengaging entirely.