About

Another fact check site? Why?

It’s needed.

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.

8 Responses to About

  1. Joe Strummer says:

    How do you people make money? I feel like this is a Koch brothers sponsored website.

    • Bryan W. White says:

      Good question. Right now, the “we” is just me, Bryan W. White. So far, there’s no money made here. I do this in my free time. The aim is to produce a better model for fact checking, and eventually produce some cash flow for a paid staff.

      It’s a mistake to assume that a site done by a person with a confessed conservative point of view is connected to some sort of conservative media network, just as it’s a mistake to assume that the liberal media represent a type of organized conspiracy. It doesn’t make a website less biased if the site keeps its bias a secret. I tell you straight up that I’m a conservative. And then I’m going to do fact checking that’s accurate enough so you’ll forgive me for being honest about my politics.

      • Jim says:

        Have you ever thought about what a better model might be like?

        • Bryan W. White says:

          Jim,
          Sure. I’ve put quite a bit of thought into it. This is the result, at least so far. Yes to explanatory icons if they express concrete findings. Yes to source lists. Yes to making every effort to extend reasonable charity to every entity subject to a fact check. Yes to drill-down tools to help readers learn how to do their own fact-checking. No to gimmickry and statistically worthless report cards.

          There are a few things still to come, but I think this model already represents an improvement on what went before.

          I do keep an eye on journals and new fact check ventures, of course, as time permits. I’m interested in seeing what Truthinesscheck does differently.

  2. Jack Lopez says:

    “A free people ought to be armed.”
    – George Washington

    “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
    – Thomas Jefferson (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria)

    This ones just for you…
    “On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit m aranifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
    ― Samuel Adams

    It’s fairly easy to tell when someone has never served there country, but instead write revisionist history FROM revisionist history. That was by far the worst pro gun control argument I’ve ever read. Your sources were hilarious.

  3. Jack Lopez says:

    I bet that never sees your facebook page…..

  4. Bryan W. White says:

    Jack Lopez,

    It was tempting not to post your comments since it’s hard to see how they relate to the page on which you posted them.

    Perhaps you’d intended to post them in response to my fact check of a fact check of Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) or to my explanatory post on Washington’s view of the Second Amendment. But therein lies the mystery. Where do you see revisionist history other than in my quotations of expert sources? And expert sources that I ultimately question, at that? I hope you’ll drop by again to offer an explanation of your comments.

    http://www.zebrafactcheck.com/politifact-texas-vs-louie-gohmert/

    http://www.zebrafactcheck.com/george-washington-and-the-second-amendment-unsettling-the-question-with-expert-opinions/

  5. ina Trent says:

    Really Great work, Bryan. Keep it up, and let us know when you set up a paypal button.

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