Reputable Fact Checker Sites

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During the 2016 election season, the Washington Post reported:

“The flood of “fake news” . . . got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.”

In addition, there are a number of people who create fake news for money. As the Washington Post reported of one set of these “new yellow journalists”:

Fake-news hucksters don’t leave their apartment to find stories, they don’t interview any humans, they don’t have any sources.

They are part of the snake-oil empire that had more engagement on Facebook in the past three months of the presidential campaign “than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News and others,” according to an analysis by BuzzFeed.”

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Thus, it is useful to keep a list of reputable fact-checking sites. Some of the better ones include the following:

Factcheck.org (from the Annenberg Public Policy Center)
Politifact.com
TheFact-Checker.com (from the Washington Post)
Pew Research Center Fact Tank
The Century Foundation
Open Secrets.org (the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis; features tracking money and how it affects politics.)
Snopes.com (specializes in internet memes)

Eugene Kiely of FactCheck.org admonishes readers to “[b]e skeptical. Check the author. Check the publisher. Check the sources.”:

“You have no idea how many people forward us emails that are anonymously written that made unsubstantiated claims with no sources. Same thing with some ‘stories’ and ‘reports’ written and posted on partisan and advocacy websites. Who is behind the website? What’s their agenda? How it is funded? How transparent is it? Does its articles and reports provide named sources of information with links to source material so readers can check the facts themselves? Reagan used to say, ‘Trust, but verify.’ I’d say verify first, and then determine if the source is worthy of your trust.”

I find that what the Washington Post claims about its fact checking site to be true in general with respect to all of these sites:

We will strive to be dispassionate and non-partisan, drawing attention to inaccurate statements on both left and right.”

There’s a valuable guide to evaluating websites here.

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“Rags to Riches” Mainly Happens in Movies, According to Pew Charitable Trust Report

If only the reality of American socioeconomic mobility lived up to the myth. As the Pew Charitable Trust research found:

The American Dream is usually defined in terms of financial security, homeownership, and higher education. Our data on financial security shows why it is in doubt. When it comes to economic mobility—the ability to move up or down the economic ladder within a lifetime or from one generation to the next—your place on the ladder as a child can often be a predictor of your place as an adult.”

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You can access the report here.

Changing the Balance of Power

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), every state in the United States has either an operational wind energy project or a wind-related manufacturing facility, or both:

Nearly 900 utility-scale wind projects – which represent over 60,000 megawatts – are installed across 39 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. There are also 559 wind manufacturing facilities spread across 44 states.”

The chart below printed in “The Atlantic” shows where and when wind energy production records were set. In May, 2013, for example, Colorado derived over 60 percent of the state’s electricity from wind power!

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Is The U.S. One Nation, Or Eleven, Four, or Maybe Just Two?

Author and journalist Colin Woodard contends that the U.S. is really 11 different nations.

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Alternatively, you could see the U.S. as four distinct nations. In the seminal work by historian David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed, Fischer examines four British “folkways” that defined early America and evolved into what we know today as “American culture.” By folkways he means “the normative structure of values, customs and meanings that exist in any culture.” These customs include speech, architecture, gender roles, child-rearing, religion, recreation, and much more. The four major folkways identified by Fischer correspond to four regions of settlement: Massachusetts Bay, tidewater Virginia, the Delaware Valley, and the Appalachian Highlands.

These four areas are the “‘seedbeds’ from which four different populations overspread the nation.” As the colonists migrated westward, they took their folkways with them. Fischer reviews these folkways in detail for each group, and it is fascinating to learn about the origins of many of the practices we retain today.

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With the 2016 election, many believe the nation is now mostly split into two separate entities, commonly thought of as “red” or “blue.” Nate Cohn suggests an “educational split” has replaced the culture war.

Summary of results of the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections

Summary of results of the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections