This is a short piece about a recent experience I had online. I am thinking about using it as part of my curriculum for assessing internet information information. I knew from the start, before clicking on the link, that it was bogus, but since my audience will be thirteen-year-olds, I took a step-by-step approach as if each little discovery slowly confirmed my suspicions.
I recently saw a link in social media to an article that made me raise my eyebrows considerably.
I’ve heard about conn trails and the suggestion that it’s some government agency spraying chemicals on a hapless population, but I wondered: In what context did NASA admit this? Was it a news conference? Will there be a video in the article with an official NASA spokesperson admitting this? Will there be a document from NASA?
I read the article and found it lacking from the opening paragraph.
New evidence emerged this week regarding NASA spraying unusual substances into the atmosphere. Officials state these chemicals are “harmless to the environment”. But the real question we need to be asking is, are these substances safe for humans?
Notice: the article cites “new evidence” but never supplies that evidence. Instead it simply summarizes the purported evidence. There’s a quote that lacks any attribution whatsoever: these chemicals are “harmless to the environment.” The quotation marks indicate that it is a direct quote from some source, but that source is never named or even explained. A search of the exact phrase “harmless to the environment” provides “about 2,230,000 results” from Google (source) and 306,000,000 results from Bing (source). So even if this is a direct quote, there’s no telling where it came from.
Next, the paragraph lists as their authority unnamed “officials.” Who are these officials? Are they insiders acting as whistle blowers? How many officials exactly are there?
The rest of the article continues in a similar vein, without listing a single source or providing anything beyond commentary.
But truth be told, I had my doubts from the beginning. The moment the page loaded, I was suspicious.
Three ads in the top fourth of the page? I immediately began thinking that this was a web site set up by one individual simply to earn money from ads. The fact that this is a WordPress.com site (See the WP logo in the clipped fragment at the top? WordPress, which also runs this site, automatically adds that if it is a site it hosts.) also makes me wonder that this might just be an ad-farm site set up by one individual. Whois confirmed this:
The domain is registered by one Bill McIntosh. he’s also the admin contact and the tech contact. I know from personal experience that when one registers a domain name, there is an option to include as admin contact and tech contact the same data supplied for the registrant contact. Most news organizations have very different data for this.
Here’s CNN’s registration information.
And here’s Fox News’s registration information:
Very different indeed.
Who is this “Bill McIntosh” behind Truth and Action? It’s not immediately obvious, and it’s not very easy to find out. What are his credentials? Who has he hired to work for him?
This too is questionable because there is a link suggesting that readers themselves can “report for” the web site. This suggests that just about anyone can write something for this site.
Finally, there’s the other content on the site itself. Articles include
- “The Nazi Origins of Renewable Energy and Global Warming”
- “The Most Secretive Treasury in History…Meet the Rothschilds”
- “Who Really Owns, Controls the Military Industrial Complex?”
Applying a little background knowledge, it becomes clear that this is a site that peddles conspiracy theories as its main fare.
I commented to the original poster,
And the source? A document? A press conference? What about the web site itself? Who’s saying this? Do they have any credentials at all or is it Joe Blow in his basement making money off the ads for this site?
The poster replied that she was “just passing info” and pointed out that she “did not voice an opinion.” Pointing out that “person is free to do their own research” she encouraged me to “research for yourself please.” And so I did. What I found was confirmation of my initial suspicions: nothing but nonsense.
The question, though, is whether or not this is “info.” If its on the internet, is it automatically “info”?