From crime to children’s diets, to global development, to hair loss, facts form parts of arguments, and we often see different facts marshaled in support of different conclusions. When it comes to research being reported in the media, we all benefit from lively debates, but no one benefits from reality being misrepresented, or from the dismissal of claims that are, in fact, true. And, once they’re "out there," misleading claims and statistics tend to take on a life of their own.
That’s why, for some years now, we at Sense About Science have been fact checking media reporting of science with our For the Record blog series, which has become a popular place for people to check up on stories. If you ever find that your own research claims have been overstated or misrepresented in the media, please get in touch with us so we can help you set the record straight.
But For the Record covers a relatively small range of stories, and recently there have been several excellent initiatives in different kinds of fact checking. We’d love to see these shared and discussed as widely as possible.
This is especially important to us because our supporters – scientists and non-scientists alike – have increasingly been taking researching the evidence behind claims and headlines into their own hands with Ask for Evidence. We encourage people to ask for evidence themselves if they see a claim, but many of the great fact checking organizations out there may already be looking at it.
That’s why we recently launched Fact Check Central, so that we can all read, search and share fact checking blogs from across the web. Fact-checking isn’t just about separating true from false. Done well, it can give proper context to claims, allow space for deeper understanding, and deflate the rhetoric and bluster that often surrounds controversial issues.
Fact Check Central is a simple, aggregated list of blogs from a selection of fact checking organizations, sorted by topic and in chronological order. We hope that it can become a helpful, singular place to see if a story or claim has been – or is being – fact-checked, and we’ll continue to add features and blogs as we discover how people are using it.
Please check it out and let us know what you think.