Lateral Reading A Skill Against Fake News

Normally when I pick up a book or a journal article, I already have some context about its credibility or relevance. I’ve a newspaper for decades now, which I trust. I check articles on their scientific soundness. I mostly choose a journal article because it’s in a reputable journal or cited by someone you trust.

The web is a different beast altogether. When you land on a webpage, you’re often clueless about its reliability or the authority of the author. Most people’s instinct is to navigate through the site, maybe check the “About” page or look at author bios. Michael Caulfield the writer of the book “Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers,” delves into the concept of “lateral reading,” which contrasts sharply with how we traditionally engage with print media. You can read the book online via the previous link. It’s very interesting.

Lateral reading involves stepping away from the site at hand to see what other, ideally more reputable, sources are saying about it. Lateral readers open multiple tabs and conduct searches about the author, the site’s ownership, and other related commentaries. They piece this information together to get a well-rounded view of the site they’re investigating.

Only after this external validation do lateral readers dive deep into the original content. By then, they’ve got a much clearer sense of whether they can trust the information presented. They’re not just confined to the site’s own narrative; they have a broader perspective that accounts for various viewpoints and reputations.

Read more here on Educator’s Technology