Eight Tips for Fact Checking

Are your facts correct?

I spend more time fact checking now due to the web and social media. I used to think of fact checking as names, dates, proper spelling of people’s names, cities, and things of that nature.

In today’s world, many people simply “go to the web”  for their facts. That is no longer reliable, as people can publish anything in print or online; people also copy from those sources without checking. You can lose credibility if your facts are not 100% reliable.

These are eight tips (out of many) to steer you to proper  fact checking:

  1. Dates. Check whether historical or in proofreading. Is Tuesday actually the seventh of January? What if you see: Wednesday, January 7, 2020. Is the day (Wednesday) or the date (7th) incorrect? This person could have meant Wednesday the 8th, or Tuesday the 7th. Check. Even if you think you know for certain, e.g. D-Day, June 6, 1944 (it was planned for the 5th, but took place on the 6th.)
  2. Names, people. Never assume you know how to spell a name, unless it is someone you know very well and you know it for certain. E.g. Barbra Streisand. She skips that second ‘a’ that most people use, ‘Barbara.’ Many people have trouble pronouncing her last name and, thus, misspell it. Streisdand or Streidand because that is how they pronounce it. Verify.
  3. Names. Cities, places, countries, events, and eras.  Art Deco Era – you will find several opinions on when it was. From 1910 – 1930; 1925 – 1939, – 1940, etc. Find several historical facts until you can safely put years to an era.
  4. Years. You must not only check if the years are correct, but if the spread of years is correct (mathematical). Wikipedia has The Cold War beginning in either 1946 or 47 and ending in 1991. You could also say it went for 44 or 45 years. Check many sources before you commit to paper.
  5. Experience. Watch out for this, especially on your resume or website. Let’s say you have on your resume that you have 30 years’ experience. If you update your resume later, make certain to update that also to 32 years’ or 35 years’ experience. The same goes if you state elsewhere that you have been, e.g. “providing customer service for 40 years.” If you state, ‘since 1980’ you don’t need to track how many years. Those 40 years will always be calculated. It will always be up to date until you cease working.
  6. Death. Ensure that the date of death is correct, or that the person is actually dead. People have assumed either way that someone is dead. Be absolutely certain.
  7. Direction. Let’s say, “twenty miles north of Cleveland.” Most times, that would put you in Lake Erie. People have different views of what Cleveland entails. They may include a suburb and refer to it as Cleveland. Make sure the miles and direction are both correct when speaking about direction. Perhaps they meant twenty miles south, too.
  8. If anything seems odd or out of place to you, verify it. I was recently informed that my grandfather had died of a medical issue, not in the line of duty. That was my great grandfather. He was shot dead while on duty. My grandfather, also a policeman, died of a brain hemorrhage while working. I had it incorrect all my life. As a child, I most likely blended the two deaths together.

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