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Knowledge Is Power: Fighting Misinformation, Disinformation, and Junk News

What is Lateral Reading?

Lateral reading helps you determine an author’s credibility, intent and biases by searching for articles on the same topic by other writers (to see how they are covering it) and for other articles by the author you’re checking on. That’s what professional fact-checkers do.

Questions you’ll want to ask include these:

  • Who funds or sponsors the site where the original piece was published? What do other authoritative sources have to say about that site?
  • When you do a search on the topic of the original piece, are the initial results from fact-checking organizations?
  • Have questions been raised about other articles the author has written?
  • Does what you’re finding elsewhere contradict the original piece?
  • Are credible news outlets reporting on (or perhaps more important, not reporting on) what you’re reading?

Lateral Reading in <4 min.

Sort Fact from Fiction Online with Lateral Reading from Standford History Education Group, Jan 16, 2020

Check Your Emotions

Pause and give yourself time to reflect on sources that play on your emotions. Helpful advice about sharing online news stories from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Michael Arthur Caulfield:

"When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a "fact" with others, STOP. Above all, it’s these things that you must fact-check.

Why? Because you’re already likely to check things you know are important to get right, and you’re predisposed to analyze things that put you an intellectual frame of mind. But things that make you angry or overjoyed, well… our record as humans are not good with these things."

Book Excerpt: Build a Fact-Checking Habit by Checking Your Emotions

Infographic from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities @

Tools for Going Upstream and Reading Laterally in Academic Sources