Don’t Let Fake News Ruin Your Day

In the past week since the U.S. presidential election, there’s been an increase of discussions about fake news stories. Whether or not they played a role in determining the outcome of the election will be difficult to determine, but it’s clear that false information in the disguise of credible news has been on the rise, and is spreading fast. Even Google got in on the act, displaying news results that were false:

Fake Google News Screenshot
Source: New York Magazine. Picture links to article.

Shortly after this happened, both Google and Facebook have said they will do their best to prevent promotion of false news stories. But that doesn’t mean they’ll go away completely. So what can we do?

Communication professor Melissa Zimdars from Merrimack College was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education about increasing and improving media literacy — the ability to critically analyze a piece of news. Here are some tips from her (these are all taken from a document she created that had a list of fake news sources; the document is still available but the list of sources has been removed while it’s being updated and edited); the bolding is mine:

  • Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources  
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

Some more thoughts from the PSC Library:

  • Don’t indiscriminately retweet or reblog or repost. Take a moment to investigate the story being told.
  • Don’t be fooled by professional looking presentations! More and more people are skilled in making website and graphics. Instead, take some time to look at the source of the article or story.

Lastly, beware of confirmation bias, or “When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true.” Webster University professor Julie Smith has dedicated her career to media literacy and debunking fake news stories, and she makes her concern over confirmation bias very clearly in her post-election post. She says:

I feel we have entered into an age where truth no longer matters.  We are in a post-truth world.

We are so compelled to believe the worst of one candidate and the best of another, that we are incapable and unwilling to entertain any critical thought.

We are more interested in what we believe rather than what is true.

For more examples of confirmation bias — and how to critically evaluate news sources — visit Julie’s website.

Critical analysis of news — of any information — has always been important. But now, it may be even more important. Do your part to be informed.

Advertisements

It’s National Coming Out Day

rainbow_flag_breezeOctober 11 is National Coming Out Day. Started 29 years ago at a march for gay and lesbian rights on the National Mall, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is a chance to recognize and acknowledge members of the LGBTQA community, and to celebrate the diversity of those identities. (For more about  NCOD, visit the Human Rights Campaign’s website. The HRC has been a formal organizer and supporter of NCOD since the early 1990s.)

NCOD is also about support and providing resources to individuals who have decided to come out. Here are some of those resources available through the PSC Library.

9680945 20384878 24612624 18166920 11516571

 

Looking for something to read?

I know. The semester just started. The assignments are starting to pile up, and Thanksgiving looks so far away. What better way to give your brain a break than by reading something for fun?

You may have noticed a new addition at the reference desk.

ra

Whoever is sitting at the desk will share some of the books they really like, and think you might like, too. Ask us questions about them, ask for similar titles, or just grab them and check them out!

Missed a title? Want to see what we’ve recommended in the past? We have just the page for you!

Shark Week!

Shark Week starts this Saturday, June 26, on the Discovery Channel, and after nearly 30 years, has become a summer TV staple. Though criticized in the past for truly unbelievable programming, one thing remains true: people are fascinated by sharks. Representing a very real but rare danger, stories about sharks and shark attacks regularly attract fans.

Starting in the 1970s with the publication of Jaws, and later the hit Spielberg film, shark stories — fictional and real — have captured the world’s imagination. While these stories are exciting, and sometimes silly, it’s impossible to deny the true power and majesty of the creatures themselves.

Take some time this summer to learn a little more about sharks with these titles from the library. And don’t worry: there are no sharks in Lake Michigan. Probably.

shark1

shark2 shark3

We can help you avoid plagiarism as you finish those final papers!

The end of the semester is nearly here, and along with dreams of sunny days and sleeping in is the reality of final papers. Writing a research paper is HARD, and we want to make sure you get all the help you need. Because of that, one of our librarians — Matthew Root — created a subject guide to help you through the ins and outs of plagiarism.

We know that you know what plagiarism is generally: passing off someone else’s work as your own. But did you know it’s also:

  • paraphrasing without citing?
  • using a paper you wrote in another class?

Matthew created this guide to answer questions you have about making sure you’re acknowledging someone else’s work in your own. And when you’re done writing your paper, check out our citation subject guide for the details of MLA and APA style.

Last: did you know the database helps you in creating a citation? When you’re in a record, click on the “Cite” link on the right side.

cite1

Scroll through to find the appropriate style for your class (e.g. APA or MLA), copy the citation, and paste it into your Work Cited list.

cite2

*IMPORTANT* You still need to make sure the citation matches the style you need, and all of the important stuff is included, but it cuts down on a lot of the work.

Good luck! You’re almost done!

Harper Lee, 1926-2016

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and its sequel Go Set a Watchman, died today at the age of 89.

A native of Monroeville, Alabama, Lee was 34 when To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. The success of the novel, and its immediate connection to the current political and cultural climates, led quickly to the production of a film adaptation starring Gregory Peck. The movie was released in 1962, and received 3 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck and Best Screenplay Adaptation. The book was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

In 1964, Lee declined to give any more interviews, citing her exhaustion with answering the same questions again and again. She also wrote no more novels. When it was announced that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird would be published in 2015, questions were raised about its authenticity, and Lee’s actual intentions.

Harper Lee was one of the 20th century’s most renowned and celebrated authors. To read her novels, watch the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, or learn more about her, check out one of the items below.

tkam gsaw  hl tkammovie tkamtb

What’s Your Name, Man?

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
Impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

This is the question asked at the very beginning of the current Broadway show, Hamilton. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical tells the story of “the ten dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop, R&B, and jazz.

Click on the above image to see the Hamilton show’s Twitter account!

The show has been selling-out since it opened in August, and audience members include Beyonce, Julie Andrews, and the Obama family. It was just announced today that the original cast recording is up for a Grammy award, and theater insiders are certain that it will sweep the Tony Awards next year.

Before I discovered Hamilton (the musical), which I’ve been listening to on endless repeat since it was released in September, I had no idea this man’s life was so fascinating. Here was someone whose face is printed on our money and I couldn’t even have started to describe some of his accomplishments.

So just what is it about this musical that’s so captivating? The music and the writing are stellar, with catchy hooks and internal rhyme sequences that boggle the mind. But at its heart, it’s the story of one of the most ambitious men in American history. Often considered to be America’s first immigrant, Alexander Hamilton arrived in New York at the age of 17 to attend college, and began making waves almost immediately. During his life, he fought in the Revolutionary War, was an aide to George Washington, wrote countless papers and treatises, and was the first secretary of the treasury. His views were often considered controversial, and political powers played out such that in 1795, he resigned his position. Less than 10 years later, he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Miranda found the inspiration for the musical in Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, and eventually asked Chernow to be the historical advisor for the show.

Have you discovered Hamilton yet? If not, we can get the CD from another library for you! And if you have, here are some more A dot Ham resources for you.

 

     

Supermoon!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… SUPERMOON!

756838main_super_moon_cropped_946-710

Did you go outside last night to take a look at the supermoon? Did it look any different to you from a regular full moon? It should have. Last night’s supermoon was “13.5 percent larger and 30 percent brighter” than your average full moon. Why? Last night the Moon was actually closer to the Earth than it typically is. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is an oval, but the Earth doesn’t sit right in the middle of that oval. So roughly every 14 moon cycles, the Moon reaches the part of the oval that’s the closest to the Earth, leading to SUPERMOON!

Want to read more about the Moon and astronomy? We’ve got a great selection here at the library!

[image source]

How much do you know about the Civil War?

This week marks the anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. 152 years ago this Friday, April 12, southern Confederate soldiers fired upon Fort Sumter, a Union base in South Carolina. In response, President Abraham Lincoln put out a call to the Union states for soldiers.

The war would last for four years, with over 620,000 individual lives lost and over 400,000 wounded. Countless books and articles have been written detailing every aspect of this war, including the individuals who participated and the locations that served as battlefields, both literally and figuratively.

The American Civil War is also a popular topic for films, with over 30 movies in which the war plays a major role in the action.

Curious about this important event in our nation’s history? We have so much here at the library for you! Look below for suggestions in non-fiction, movies, and fiction with a Civil War setting.