This isn’t exactly writing-related, but I think that it is worth posting here, anyway.
A while back I wrote (in a more somber tone) about the problem of knowledge. Here I present my guide to distinguishing the obvious nonsense from the rest.
When you read something on the internet (especially something shared via social media), ask yourself the following questions:
1) Does the article’s title promise to prove something with a meme? It does? And you believe it?!
2) Does the article’s headline contain the phrase “goes viral”? If so, DO NOT CLICK ON IT. If you do, you’re only being manipulated into making the article go “viral” in order for the site to get clicks and thus make advertisement revenue (and what it says is probably bull****).
3) Does the article’s headline promise to “destroy” or “demolish” someone else’s argument? Does it promise to “school” someone who is clearly an idiot for not agreeing with your position? If so, it is almost certainly misleading you, and it might be outright bull****.
4) If the article’s content were absolutely true, would it prove beyond any reasonable doubt that your political opponents are Minions of Evil Bent on World Domination And The Subjugation of Your People? If so, then it’s probably bull****. Things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true.
5) Does the article promise to give you information that the mainstream media is determined to hide from the world at all costs? Take it with a grain of salt; it’s probably bull****. Despite popular belief, mainstream media outlets are pretty diverse, and if NONE of those outlets are covering it, it’s probably bull****.
6) You can often tell from the name of a site that it is bull****. Does the site have a name like Joe Bob’s America Is Great Freedom News Site? Bull****. Does it have a name like Right Wingers Suck? Bull***.
7) When you click on the article, is it difficult to distinguish between the article’s content and the advertisements on the page? Or are there more ads than content? If so, then it is almost certainly bull****.
8) Does the title contain any words that are in all capital letters? If so, approach with caution. Does it contain the words “stun” or “speechless” (or some other hyperbolic language) in all caps? If so, then it probably will not “stun” you or leave you “speechless.” And if it does, then it is almost certainly bull****.
See? It’s easy.