The Washington Post publishes the world’s most epic correction

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Korsha Wilson published an article in the Washington Post’s food section. Then the Post published a correction. The correction is 579 words long and includes 15 bullet points. It raises a few questions about who gets published and who checks facts in the publications you read. Wilson, a freelancer, contributed an article about black families … Continued

Why does Trump just make stuff up in the State of the Union?

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Donald Trump’s State of the Union message sounded like a rational if self-serving laundry list of dozens of platitudes and programs — you know, just like every other president’s. Except for one thing: He invented facts that are easily proven false. Why? The rest of this post is based mostly on the fact checks in … Continued

Can Facebook block lies about voting?

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In the US, the midterm election day is one week from today, November 6. Facebook says it will ban misinformation on voting. If you find this news item encouraging, allow me to discourage you. First off, the ban is limited in scope. Facebook is not banning fake news (as if such a thing were possible) … Continued

The three kinds of facts and how to verify them

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When people find out I write books, they often ask, “Do you write fiction?” My answer: “Not on purpose.” I deal in facts. But not all facts come from the same place. Here are the three kinds of facts (plus one kind of non-fact) and how to make sure they’re true. Sourced facts What they … Continued

The truth matters more than which party you support

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No matter who is president, we’ll get over it. We’ll get past Trump. We’ll get past whoever comes next. But once we cease to believe that objective truth is the baseline for every discussion, we are doomed. I was reading Facebook the other day when a high school classmate of mine posted this: I had … Continued

Writers: say these words before every interview you conduct

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You’ve lined up some time with a smart person. You’re about to interview them on the phone or in person, and you’re eager to get started. So after the small talk is done, you ask the first question. You’ve made a mistake. There’s something you’d better say first. And based on the tears and rending … Continued

A better solution to fake news, starting with Facebook

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Fake news is a big problem, and Facebook is at the center of it. It’s clear that made-up and distorted stories amplified on Facebook helped swing the 2016 presidential election. But the simple and “obvious” solutions to the problem have backfired. Now Facebook is at work on something better. And I have a proposal based … Continued

To write well and efficiently, choose the right level of editing

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Editing is like going to the dentist — nobody likes it, but you’ll avoid a lot of pain and ugliness if you get the right help at the right time. And you need to pick the right intensity of editing to match what your writing needs; you can’t fix a toothache with just a cleaning. Good … Continued