Carl Sagan´s Guide to Fake News

On 22 and 23 October 2018 I ran an activity I designed at the Science Museum in London: “Carl Sagan’s Guide to Fake News” as part of the Science Museum´s We Are Engineers Family Festival supporting the Government’s “2018 year of engineering” initiative.  It was a lot of fun.

If you´ve read any of these blogs before you will know that I promote Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Toolkit from his book: “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark”.  This toolkit helps us to distinguish between truth and spoof, and is more applicable than ever in the era of Social Media.  I´ve written before on how it can help us debate reasonably, and assist with fact-checking.

The activity at the Science Museum consisted of a TV newsroom, where museum visitors acted as a news team investigating a set of stories that could be science or baloney, or a bit of both, using techniques from Sagan´s toolkit.

Some of the stories used in the activity were:

The articles also contain a link to an online survey where you can plot your assessment of each story on the “scale of baloney”.  Once you have voted you can click onto a further page where you can see the “facts” behind each story, and understand how the baloney detection toolkit can help you navigate your way to the truth.

A big thank you to all the Science Museum visitors who came to Carl Sagan’s Guide to Fake News, and a very special thank you to Harry, Sakthy and Mark who helped me run it.

Carl Sagans Guide to Fake News will live on online, here, and I will continue to update this page, which you can access directly faxenews.jmitch.co.uk. I will also continue to add to the stories and provide updates on the feedback received.

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