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SOME WAYS INFORMATION CAN BE MISLEADING (this is far from a complete list)



Astroturfing is the practice of creating the illusion of widespread grassroots support for a candidate, policy, or cause when no such support exists. For example: “spontaneous” demonstrations that are in reality sponsored by political organizations or corporations.

Alternative facts

Calling a falsehood a fact. Facts have objective reality and are not debatable. This is a form of NEWSPEAK – a reference to George Orwell’s novel 1984 where the totalitarian government asserts control over people by manipulation of language.


Anecdotal evidence

Evidence based on theory, opinion, or informal observation rather than systematic research. Whereas empirical evidence is evidence based on facts obtained through scientific observation, investigation, or experimentation. Use of anecdotal evidence for support can be misleading.



A particular point of view is emphasized and other points of view are ignored or disparaged. Bias is sometimes obvious – as when overly hostile opinions are expressed – or it can be more subtle – as when important facts/news stories aren’t even reported or when scientific sounding data such as survey data is intentionally manipulated to achieve a particular result (see Cherry Picking).


Bury the lead

Intentionally fail to emphasize the most important part of a story to deceive the reader.


Cherry picking

Legitimate evidence is used, but only evidence that supports the argument. Other evidence that is inconvenient is ignored or suppressed.


Circular reporting

News outlet A reports misinformation, publication B reprints it, then A cites B as the source of the information.



Sensational hyperlinks leading to dubious content


Confirmation bias

People tend to accept information that confirms their pre-existing opinions rather than explore alternate viewpoints and question their pre-existing biases – even when presented with contradictory proof.



Manipulation of video and/or audio that is becoming increasingly difficult to detect.



Intentionally false information spread deliberately to convince people of an untruth.


Filter bubble

Computer algorithms that filter the information you see online.



Psychological manipulation designed to undermine peoples’ ability to distinguish truth from falsehood/right from wrong (from the film & play Gaslight).


Junk science

Faulty research data created for financial or political gain.


Mainstream media

Corporate media that is easy to find and reaches a large audience. Some have criticized the mainstream media for intentional bias in their reporting – both to cater to specific audiences (reinforcing confirmation biases) and reporting on more sensational news while ignoring more important but less profitable stories.



Deliberately misleading, ambiguous, or contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public (from George Orwell’s novel 1984)


Primary Source (vs Secondary Source)

A primary source is a first-hand account of an event (also the actual source as in literature). Secondary sources are commentary by people commenting/analyzing primary sources. Information can get distorted the more secondary sources analyze/comment on it. If you want to know exactly what was said or what happened, go to the primary source. In the law, such indirect evidence is called HEARSAY and is usually inadmissible as it is highly unreliable.



Ideas, rumors, information used to harm people/institutions/countries. Propaganda is usually misleading and promotes a certain ideology.



Presenting information in a way that is shocking or exciting.



To present information in a way as to create a favorable impression.


Yellow journalism

The use of sensationalism to boost sales and influence readers