Evaluating the evidence

The following are links to resources our members have found useful in the search for credible information. These are not endorsements. They are suggestions for ways to dig deeper in to information you’ve obtained from newspapers, the web, books, or your next door neighbour. As with all information sources, these should be used employing a good dose of critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism.

For links to sites looking at current events from a atheistic, agnostic or secular point of view, visit our Atheism, agnosticism, ethics and more page

If you have suggestions for other resources, please add a comment to the blog article March 213 – Evaluating the Evidence.

Search resources – when plain Google won’t cut it:

    • Google Scholar – Provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. Many items appear as an abstract from the full document, which may require a fee for full viewing.
    • Infomine – a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level.

Fact checking

    • Stats –  explaining the statistics we see in the media every day. Current topics, current news articles examined, statistical data sources, and a great section “statistics simplified”.
    • Face the Facts USA – from George Washington University, a US-centric site that is “on a mission to fight spin, noise and cynicism”
    • Mediachannel.org – a non-commercial and not-for-profit network of media analysis presented in the public interest. A media site about the media.
    • Corporate Watch – an independent, not-for-profit journalism, research and publishing group that undertakes research on the social and environmental impact of large corporations, particularly multinationals. Type your favourite corp in the search box and see what comes up.
    • Risk – Book by David Roeik and George Gray. Excellent introduction to analyzing the actual consequences of common hazards. Provides information and techniques for evaluating risks and making informed judgements about what you see in the media.

The news

These sites provide interesting coverage and analysis of ongoing news that may not appear in mainstream media.

    • Center for Public Integrity – US based, self-described as “one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations. Our mission: To enhance democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.”
    • Alternet – an online magazine “serving as a reliable filter, keeping our vast audience well-informed and engaged, helping them to navigate a culture of information overload and providing an alternative to the commercial media onslaught.”
    • Salon – Again from the US, offering “investigative reporting, fearless commentary and criticism, and provocative personal essays.”
    • Counterpunch – another US site with an unconventional take on the news. Strong opinions.
    • BigThink – a blog featuring high-profile contributors writing about big themes such as 21st Century Living, Earth and Beyond,  New World Order, Power and Influence.
    • Democracy Now – a news show, independent from mainstream media and corporate, commercial or government funding, that appears on PBS, NPR, college radio stations and similar outlets.
    • TomDispatch – an alternative to mainstream media, web organ of the The Nation Institute, supporting independent journalism.
    • The Tyee – independent news from British Columbia. Often seen as politically left-leaning, but with high-quality investigative journalism and analysis.

Science

Any good scientific publication have high standards regarding research and author integrity. Here’s an example from the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

    • Motherboard – more technology oriented, presenting an unusual view of science and technology. Originally from the Netherlands.
    • PLOS – Peer-reviewed, open access journal working to make science a public resource.
    • Phys.org – though owned by Omicron Technologies in the UK, this site is an excellent source of  information on current science research.
    • Quirks and Quarks – the website of the CBC Radio’s science show. Good analysis intended for a non-scientific audience.
    • BBC Discovery – Podcasts and more on science

Thinking skeptically and rationally

Don’t confuse “skeptic” with cynic, curmudgeon, denier, or any of the common images of negative thinking. To quote from Michael Kruse’s  What is Skepticism, the modern Skeptical movement “is based on a scientific view of the world and uses the tools of rational and critical thinking to follow the data wherever it may lead. Though it may start from a place of disbelief, it qualifies this disbelief with the demand that the assertion requires proof: data that is rigorously investigated and, if found to be valid, leads to a change in the thinking of the observer. The doubt of curmudgeons and cynics is precious and austere. Skeptics can change their minds.”

    • The Power of Critical Thinking – Book by Lewis Vaughn. A standard University-level text on reasoning, argumentation, and logic.
    • Skeptic North – providing a central hub for skeptical thinking in Canada.
    • Skeptically Speaking – from Alberta, a podcasting site that “explore the connections between science, popular culture, history and public policy”
    • Skepticblog – writings by top names in science and critical thinking including Brian Dunning, Daniel Loxton, Donald Prothero, Mark Edward, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella.
    • Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe – a video and podcast site taking an often light-hearted but informed and scientific look at the world.
    • Less Wrong – a site devoted to rational thinking. Great articles and discussions on cognitive biases, evidence, rationality and much more.
    • Crimes Against Logic – Book by Jamie Whyte. A good introduction to evaluating arguments put forth by journalists, politicians, priests  . . .

 Educational resources online

There are a large number of sites offering university and college level lectures and courses, including ones on critical thinking and the role of the media in society. Some that offer free content: