Another fact check site? Why?
Fact checking isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming and often difficult. It’s frequently hard to get facts right because the basis for verifying many facts requires a good store of knowledge, often to the point of expertise. Looking to expert sources doesn’t always solve the problem because the experts don’t always agree. How is a non-expert supposed to decide which expert is right?
Zebra Fact Check exists to fill in some of the gaps. We’ll look at statements other fact checkers ignore. We’ll supply information other fact checkers might miss. We expect to improve the standard for fact checking by applying rigorous standards consistently. And we’ll keep an eye on other fact checkers to encourage higher standards.
The truth is black or white.
Surprised? Many think the truth has shades of gray. That’s not the case. Music artist Frank Hart illustrated the idea of false perceptions of “gray” truth with the album title “Penguin Dust.” Penguins are essentially black and white. But a pile of tiny black and white penguin particles would appear gray to the naked eye. So it is with the truth. Simple unambiguous claims have a fairly obvious truth value. “The whole car is painted red” is either true or false with no middle ground. However, not many truth claims are both simple and unambiguous. “The whole car is painted red and it has a loud stereo system” might prove partly true and partly false. Perhaps the whole car is painted green and its stereo system is loud. One false statement and one true. One black statement and one white. A thorough fact check sifts through the penguin dust and sorts out the black from the white.
A fact check doesn’t necessarily end once the penguin dust is sorted out. Sometimes a completely true claim comes embedded in an argument where the truth of the claim serves to mislead the audience. At this point black and white no longer serve, for bad and fallacious arguments come in all colors, textures, sounds and smells. Assessing the application of rhetoric and its underlying logic qualifies as an art. That assessment defies the journalistic category of objective reporting. It fits the category of news analysis.
Zebra Fact Check will provide readers a layered assessment of truth claims. We’ll give you the black and white. Separately, we’ll assess the colors, textures, sounds and smells of political rhetoric.