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Culture / Apr 2019

Guide: Build a Bulls***t detector

In an age of post-truth, fake news and those embarrassing fractions of a second where you find yourself fooled by a Betoota Advocate headline, we present our top five tips for building your own bulls**t detector.

 

Triple (fact)check

We are just as complicit in spreading fake news as the bigwigs. We all know that what we hear and read can never be relied on as absolute fact (no matter the source), so it’s up to us to independently research and check the facts. Websites like Metafact and factcheck.org are a great place to start, but in the end, the real pressure is on us as individuals to scrutinize our sources to make sure we’re not helping spread the lies. Remember to include your kids in the conversation! Teach them the basics like learning to recognise reputable authors, checking verified accounts and doing your own independent research around fishy headlines.

 

Put your money where your mouth is

As a consumer, you have a responsibility to put your money where you want to make it count. Do your research and think about what you’re really investing in when you join a superfund or a pick a bank. Websites like marketforces.org can help you compare and work out which banks, Superfund and insurance companies are investing in fossil fuels and participating in dirty deals. To find out more about Ethical Banks and how to invest responsibly visit the RIAA’s website, responsibleinvestment.org

 

Don’t get hooked by clickbait

The stats as to how many people get their news from Facebook are overwhelmingly high. Not only does this mean that most of our news is filtered through an echo chamber, it also requires the media outlets to restructure their headlines as a means of getting the most clicks. Clickbait has completely transformed the world of online journalism. Nobody’s pretending that catchy headlines haven’t always been important, but when click stats are directly related to your advertising profits, it’s no surprise that our headlines become sensationalized, misleading or just wholly untrue.

 

Beware of catfish

Before you roll your eyes, remember! A crafty online scam can make victims of as all (not just Grandma!) Plenty of people genuinely do find love online, so it makes sense that spotting a fake is an essential skill for anyone entering into the digital dating world. In 2019 alone, the ACCC Scam Watch has recorded a total loss of $2 905 785 across the 688 romance and dating scams reported through their website. The ACCC’s Scam Watch site offers great tips for not only spotting a catfish but what you should do if you think you might have been, well, caught.

 

Understand your own biases

Sometimes, especially after Christmas, and totally against our better judgment, we find ourselves desperately wanting to believe that there really is a detox juice out there that will eliminate bloating and radically reduce weight gain. Many of our false beliefs stem just as much from our flawed patterns of reasoning as they do from the people that spurned them in the first place. Don’t just check your facts, check yourself. Next time you catch yourself desperately wanting to believe something is true, or vehemently denying the evidence against it, check yourself. What’s at stake for you if it’s not?