I want to teach some middle schools in my family how to better fact check things they hear online, and basically encourage more critical thinking about the things they hear. I'm looking for support with teaching them.
I personally know quite a bit about how to fact check claims, so I know what fact checking sites I can refer them to, how to do a reverse image search etc etc. However, if there are some short and sweet links/pictures I could use to help in explaining the basics that would be great.
What I would like most though is some fact checking 'activities' I could use, that is to say a good list of rumors and purported facts I could have them try to sanity test. I can come up with some but I'm struggling coming up with falsehoods that sound plausible (or truths that sound implausible) that would prove an appropriate challenge. Are there any good sites that may already have some recommended list of claims I could use as activities to challenge a child's critical thinking and fact checking skills?
I did this activity with two nephews of mine a little while ago. I had picked out a few sample questions including:
- can a human be born with a tail (yes)
- Is this picture of a baby born with a mermaid tail real (no, but she was born with defect that sort of looked like a mermaid tail)
- Can an Ant not have a father (partially true, male ants have no father, but female ants do, due to their haplodiploidy mating system)
- Do Whales have belly buttons (Yes, just like all mammals since it's a result of umbilical cord mammals use to support live birth)
- Was Trump Impeached (Yes he was, impeachment is just starting the trial to decide rather to remove him so he's impeached even if not removed)
- Do you have to wait 30 minutes before swimming after eating (no, that's a common myth)
We then moved on briefly to these fact or fiction questions, followed by another fact or fiction kids game show serious we found on the fly so I'm afraid I can't recall exactly what the link was.
My older Nephew sort of thwarted my grand plans by asking google assistant on his phone and getting correct answers to many of the questions, which in a way is good since he was successfully fact checking, but prevented me from teaching him more advanced methods for checking things that google voice doesn't know the answer to.
On the down side I ended up falling back onto my rather extensive dabbling into studying evolution for allot of examples from the animal kingdom, and eventually brought up the question of rather female hyenas have a penis when I ran out of 'safe' animal facts. The answer to that one is sort of, they have something called a 'psudo-penis' that technically isn't one but definitely looks like it. My older nephew found this so fascinating that he sent a link of the picture he found of a female hyena to a bunch of people leading to a 'fun' talk about why sending unsolicited dick picks is generally not a good idea, even if it isn't yours and it's technically only a psudo-dick pick.
Aren't children grand? ;)