Knowledge Jolt with Jack points to a great post at the Britannica Blog about 10 ways to test facts. Beyond just good tips, I would call all these essential to evaluating information.

My favorite from the list is number 4, beware of the passive voice. This may be the tell tale sign of a misleading fact or figure. Michael Moore is a master of this, presenting facts in passive voice.

In passive voice, you often see stats like “x number of people have been killed since … ” “the number of people who have died in X country is …” If there was a direct corollary or reason behind the statistic there would be no need for the passive voice, the active voice would make the statistic much more powerful as in: “(evil product/person/group/country) killed 15,000 people last month,” or something like that.

You should read all 10 tips though. Running through this list whenever you run across various facts and figures will definitely improve your information literacy and help you cut through the BS that tends to pass for discourse nowadays.

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