Recognizing the truth
How can you tell if an document you are reading is true? How do you know who to trust? Here are some criteria. Note: each criteria is not foolproof, rather, each increases or decreases the probability of truth.
More likely to be true if... Less likely to be true if ...
Uses footnotes. No footnotes.
Footnotes check out.

Argues from silence. Example: "No one saw JFK's body from 12:09 to 12:23 so no one can prove that a UFO didn't descend and switch bodies with an alien during that time."

Evidence relates to conclusions. Requires amazing precision of action from people who don't normally work together.
Author admits weak parts of case. Claims all who have evidence to prove the case have died under suspicious circumstances.
Uses evidence from a wide variety of sources, both mainstream and progressive. Uses evidence from far right-wing or far left wing sources uncritically.
Follows the money. Uses the US Communist party, Bill O' Riley, Ann Coulter, John Stossel or the X-files as a source.
Uses sources that are read by experts in a particular field not just mass media sources. Assumes that corporations act in our best interests.
Uses sources that provide evidence that works against the interests of the source. Assumes that politicians act in our best interests.
Has specifics and more than one or two of them. Assumes that wealthy people act in our best interests.
Corrects previous mistakes the author made. Assumes that corporate officials, politicians and the wealthy never act in our best interests.
From a peer-reviewed journal or from a source known to publish credible evidence. Has a headline of the form "X to do Y" This means X hasn't done Y.
Treats contrasting views fairly. Makes assumptions from probability that are not likely. For example, says "isn't it obvious that a reasonable person would have done this" when it isn't obvious.
Previous work by the author is known to be well thought of and proved reliable. Commits the "tree with no forest" fallacy - Wondering why one piece of evidence was not observed and acted upon when the person had thousands of other pieces in front of them at the time.
The source is cited by other credible sources. Hides the methodology used or refuses to provide primary data.
Last modified 9/28/06; posted 9/19/2000. © 2006 John P. Nordin