Trust what you publish, what you read

not teaching, still THINKING … Skeptical about anything these days? It’s not enough for stories to be complete and clear. They also must be free of faults and shortcomings. The best way to look for these — whether you are a journalist or a reader — is to apply methodical scrutiny to a story by […]

Lots of lessons from fake shark video

Another hoax. Surprise, surprise. How many people published, posted, shared, liked, tweeted, retweeted and commented on the YouTube video of a shark sighting in Lake Ontario — without a bit of skepticism? Hooray for those who at least suspected it was a hoax. Even more important, how many people were genuinely concerned? Here’s a sense […]

Much to learn from tale of Te’o

It’s the perfect time to post about Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame football player. You probably think I’m kidding. Aren’t most of us too sick of it to even think about it? We were duped by a once-in-a-lifetime story; let’s just learn our lesson and move on. But it’s not once in a lifetime, really. […]

NPR finds it’s not skeptical enough

One of the cautions we give editors is to not “fall in love” with a cool-sounding story — so much so that their natural skepticism is suspended. That seems to be what happened with NPR on one of its recent weekend editions of “All Things Considered.” At least that is NPR’s own conclusion. According to […]

ESP Expert: Be a Skeptic

I was in a conversation yesterday with a couple of people who are in their 80s when one of them asked me about Twitter. He wanted to know what it’s all about and whether he should “look into it” as a user. My answer: “It lets you know what’s going on before it happens.” Silence. […]

Internet hoaxes: Wow!

Internet hoaxes: They come in waves, and there are too many to count. They will catch you if you’re not careful, skeptical and alert. Yesterday a colleague sent out this YouTube clip. It’s crazy stuff. “Wow,” he wrote. I watched — and I was impressed. Had I not been in a rush, I would have […]