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On Our Radar: Myths About the Tulsa Race Massacre, Fact-Checking Uncertainty, and More

Megan Healey Megan Healey
30th May 2021
On Our Radar: Myths About the Tulsa Race Massacre, Fact-Checking Uncertainty, and More
Burning buildings during the Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 (Getty Images).

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

The conversation surrounding misinformation, fake news, and fact-checking is constantly evolving. As changing technology changes the way we take in information, new cultural and ethical considerations arise. Here is our weekly round-up of recent readings, podcasts, and other media that addresses the latest issues in fact-checking.

What We’re Reading:

The end of this month marks the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which is what experts call the largest instance of racial terrorism in US history after slavery. Because of faulty record keeping, there are numerous myths and misconceptions about the tragedy. For example: the death toll at the time was recorded to be 36, while modern historians estimate that it's closer to 300. Despite the gravity of this loss, it’s still unknown by many Americans.

Uncertainty is a huge part of scientific inquiry. While scientists continue to investigate the true origins of the virus, it’s hard to resist making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. Often when scientists discover new information that changes an earlier understanding, people assume they’ve been intentionally misled.

When human fact-checkers are overwhelmed with the rapid spread of mis/disinformation, AI can use linguistic cues, word patterns, and doctored images to catch misleading claims. But it’s not without its limitations.

Coinbase’s CEO hopes to “dispel myths in the crypto space” and fight false claims about bitcoin and crypto currency. 

An unnamed advertising agency reportedly offered to pay French influencers to spread false and negative stories about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

Schools are spending millions on air purifiers as they rush to reopen, but some evidence shows that air purifiers don’t make much of a difference in air quality. Companies behind the sales may have exaggerated their effectiveness.

What We’re Watching:

Director Billy Wilder’s 1951 film tells the story of a journalist’s misleading claims about a treasure-hunter who became trapped when a cave collapsed on him. A recent review from the BBC describes how our contemporary media landscape makes this film more relevant now than ever.

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