You really TRUST that Website? Really?

This “I accept the information at that website because it looks professionally put together and someone who has or says he or she has a PhD is associated with it” stuff is a big stumbling block. And some people are constantly stumbling. Also, if the site mixes a little truth with a lot of speculation and a great deal of made-up stuff–the bits of confirmable truth make the website look legit. That’s one of the most pernicious parts. So you have a website on, say, “chemtrails” claiming US gov is experimenting on or chemically harming people with mysterious sprays from jets, and some guy who has or appears to have scientific credentials or a military background is cited a lot–they don’t mention that he has been diagnosed bipolar–and they have some truth, eg going way back the US military and CIA were involved in medical/psy ops experiments on unwitting citizens, and that seems to give weight to the photos of “chemtrails” coming from jets, whereas the “chemtrails” are actually ordinary con trails from jet engine emissions. They cite the fact that these aerial trails are sometimes not visible and then all of a sudden you see a lot in an area. True–because of meteorological factors and angle of viewing that make them more visible. But they don’t mention the actual “it’s because” information. And they “cherrypick” information, selecting bits of material out of context that *seems* to support their thesis.

And it goes on and on, at UFO websites, truther websites, conspiracy websites of all kinds, libertarian sites. And extreme-right wingnut websites. Same thing. A little truth, a lot of falsehood, a superficial appearance of professionalism. And something else working for these bogus “alternative” sites is that many conventional news organizations have in fact been sloppy or lazy or sometimes guilty of ignoring important stories or having a corporate agenda. Not as much as people think–and some news organizations are fairly straightforward, and most are more reliable than “alternative” sites.

Some alternative news sites are good: Mother Jones is good. But most are just flat out unreliable. And the more outrageous their claims, a la Alex Jones or chemtrails sites, the more unreliable they are.

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