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Fact-Checking

About this Guide

Thomas Gradgrind -Wood engraving  by Sol Eytinge (1867)

 Thomas Gradgrind- (Wood engraving by Sol Eytinge (1867)

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!” 

                                                  --Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times (1854) by Charles Dickens

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

                                                 --Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Washington Post, January 18, 1983)

 
 

Contents of Guide

During the past several years, the Global Language Monitor has cited "fact check" as one of the top 20 "trending words" in its annual survey of word usage.   Although this phrase is frequently mentioned in the media, the multifarious aspects of fact-checking are not usually systematically discussed.   

I have compiled this guide for students and faculty who might want a background to do further research on this seminal subject.   This guide provides a wide range of sources on the topic: history of fact-checking, fact-checking organizations, fact-checking controversies, prominent fact-checkers and the growing number of  books and academic and magazine articles on the subject.  While many people usually hear about fact-checking when cable news and print publications examine the facticity of an individual politician's statements, the topic has much wider applications, e.g., in science (climate change data), history (1619 Project) , film (Mississippi Burning),  psychology (the reliability of IQ statistics), anthropology (the biography of a world-famous Guatemalan woman) and of course, philosophy (what is truth? what are facts?).   These selective examples indicate the growing importance of fact-checking in both academic life and also in our general culture.

Librarian

Donald Altschiller's picture
Donald Altschiller
Contact:
Mugar Memorial Library
617-358-3955
Subjects:History, Religion