It’s Time to Play Know! Your! Sources of Crap!

A quote generally attributed to former Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan says “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Unfortunately, many popular websites used as sources to back up false claims and pseudoscience never got this memo and gleefully make up their own facts, which have little to do with what’s actually happening.

Here’s a guide to some of the sources that you’ll see used as backup for pro-conspiracy stories. Some are fairly legitimate looking, and others are literally nothing more than some crazy person’s blog. But sadly, all of them are popular enough to influence public opinion, garnering thousands of Facebook shares and spewing their nonsense all over the world. Think of this as a field guide to spotting the worst of the worst, with an emphasis on newer and more recently popular sites. And please note that this is by no means a complete list of junk sources. To catalogue each and every one would be impossible.

Infowars/Prison Planet: This is probably ground zero of the modern conspiracy movement, acting as a town square for people who think the government is going to wipe them out. Besides a live stream and archive of Jones’ radio show, Infowars/Prison Planet (there’s no difference between them) is a grab bag of links, opinion, ads and goofiness. It features a message board, collections of conspiracy-driven news articles from outside sources (some mainstream and some fringe) and original pieces about tyranny, surveillance and things the government “isn’t telling you.”

Many of the links you’ll see to Infowars/Prison Planet are just their version of a legitimate news story. So you don’t want to dismiss something just because it came from here, but a quick look at where the link originates is about all the due diligence you need.

Do not take medical advice from Alex Jones. Please.

Do not take medical advice from Alex Jones. Please.

Sample news articles: “Autonomous Terminator Like Robots will Decide Your Fate”, “Evidence of Time Travelers on the Internet” and “Nuclear Seafood?”

Natural News: In the Skeptoid episode “Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites,” Brian named Natural News as the worst offender, so I’ll just quote what he wrote:

When Natural News began, it was basically the blog and sales portal of anti-pharmaceutical activist Mike Adams. His basic premise has always been the Big Pharma conspiracy, the idea that the medical industry secretly wants to keep everyone sick, and conspires with the food industry to make people unhealthy, all driven by a massive plot of greed to sell poisonous medicines. Adams appears to have become a protégé of Alex Jones, for he now writes on Natural News at least as many police state conspiracy articles as he does anti-science based medicine articles.

If someone is pushing a scientifically dubious theory about anything from GMO’s to vaccines, chances are it can be traced back to Natural News. And it has lots of ads.

Sample “news” articles: “Aspartame Exposed – Created with Genetically Modified-Bacteria,” “Chinese hepatitis B vaccinations claim the life of a 12th infant victim” and “Historic deep freeze across North America conclusively proves global warming is getting worse, right?”

Above Top Secret/Before It’s News: Both of these sites function as news aggregators for stories related to conspiracies, UFO’s, the paranormal, government shenanigans and pretty much anything “alternative.” There’s not much of a difference between the two, other than layout. They’re huge collections of links to outside sources, most of them highly suspect, with a small amount of original material thrown in. And lots of ads.

Do I have to??

Do I have to??

Sample “news” articles: “EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: ECETI’s James Gilliland on Aliens and Predictions for 2014,” “HAARP Deep Freeze Attack Upon America” and “Billionaires Dumping Stocks, Economist Knows Why”

RT: We’ve now moved down a level, going from link farms to news sources themselves. And probably the most legitimate-sounding of all mainstream junk news sites is RT, the channel formerly known as Russia Today. Founded in 2005, RT is the state-owned mouthpiece of the Vladimir Putin administration, a 24-hour news channel and news website designed to burnish Russia’s image around the world and take that nasty West down a few pegs. So while it presents itself as a competitor to the BBC (and very nearly is, in terms of ratings and reach), its content is more of a mixture of Fox News, Stalinist propaganda, Infowars and your crazy racist uncle.

Make no mistake, while it might look legitimate and have well-known news personalities working for it (Larry King!), RT is an abysmal source of impartial information. It’s anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-science, anti-gay, pro-conspiracy and not super into human rights. The site’s reporting on the Fukushima disaster has been especially appalling, churning up panic where none is necessary, almost certainly in support of Russian oil exports. RT is best avoided, and anything it reports should be considered highly dubious.

Sample “news” articles: “Obama 2013: How Low Can You Go,” “U.S. biggest threat to world peace” and “130 ‘radioactive’ Japanese cars banned from entering Russia”

RT: the gleaming green cube of Russian truth.

RT: the gleaming green cube of Russian truth.

ENEnews.com: Habitual Skeptoid Blog readers (hi, Dad!) know I’ve done a lot of writing on the scaremongering related to Fukushima. And a primary source of many of the claims I’ve tried to debunk is a site called ENEnews. While most link farms are all over the place in terms of content, ENEnews is basically all Fukushima all the time. Of its 22 current top stories, 21 are Fukushima-related – mostly vague and scary claims attributed to “scientists” or “officials.”

Since its founding shortly after the 3/11 earthquake, it’s become a primary source for the alternative media version of events, relentlessly pushing the idea that Japan, the US, nuclear power shills and the mainstream media have conspired to keep the “truth” about Fukushima from us. ENEnews seems willing to make up or exaggerate pretty much any claim in the service making you think toxic radiation is killing the Pacific Ocean, frying the west coast and on the verge of wiping out humanity. None of which is supported by reputable science. A link to ENEnews is a link to bad science.

Sample “news” articles: “Gov’t, scientists ‘baffled’ over white spots on cows around Fukushima,” “Official detects radiation spike on California beach, now at 500% normal levels” and “Russian Experts: Fukushima pollution spreads all over Earth, clearly a large amount of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been polluted”

Globalresearch.ca/Washington’s Blog/Zero Hedge/The Economic Collapse Blog/Activist Post/The Daily Sheeple/WhatDoesItMean.com/etc.: These are just some of the many, many dubious blogs and news aggregators devoted to overthrowing our capitalist slave masters through gold, legal weed, hoarding food and guns and reading the Bible. If the Occupy Wall Street movement had an official website, it would probably look something like one of these, full of long, rambling stories and lists about a variety of horrors. These include our Constitutional Freedoms being stripped away, the tyrannical surveillance state, the evils of big business, the upcoming economic collapse (which has been happening any day now for years) and police state slavery arriving at the feet of an army of drones.

If you think taxation is theft, the media is lying to you, Big Pharma is poisoning you and Bolshevist Jew Marxist Muslims are going to kick down your door and take away your vitamins, you probably heard about it here. And chances are they made it up. There are many, many blogs like this – a loose conglomeration of nonsense known as the “clogosphere.” They link to each other, and often repost the same content. Some sites are more prepper oriented, some more conspiracy oriented, some more Christian oriented and some just living on their own planet. None of them are reliable as un-biased news sources – or as anything other than entertainment, really.

Sample “news” articles: “11 Nasty Trends That Will Test America’s Resilience,” “28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima,” “How Will The Economy Improve In 2014 If Almost Everyone Has Less Money To Spend?” and “Have Americans Lost ALL of Our Constitutional Rights?”

So that’s a quick look at some of the many sources that the enemies of skepticism get their information from. I’m sure in the time it took to write and read this, more popped up. I’ll get to them next time.

About Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads. He's also a playwright and screenwriter. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rothschildmd.
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45 Responses to It’s Time to Play Know! Your! Sources of Crap!

  1. Justin Nnoix says:

    i agree with pretty much everything you said. only point of contention is that i do feel taxation is theft. when we have churches and corporations raking in obscene amounts of money and not obligated to pay anything, while i sit here on a fixed income as a worthless cripple having to give away a huge chunk of my money used to keep my worthless ass from dying goes to taxes that i simply cannot afford. so yea, as a worthless cripple with nothing to live for and no earning potential, making me part with 13% of my money everytime i make a transaction is just obscene.

    • Carly Hazen says:

      Then vote for the people that want to tax those cheating bastards at those corporations and churches.

      • Carly Hazen says:

        BTW, the people that want to tax those corporations and churches will NEVER ever be any REPUBLICANS OR LIBERTARIANS, no matter what kind of lies they tell you. Only Democrats want a fair tax system and that is not a flat tax.

        • Skycastle says:

          Nonsense, Carly. Democrats want a graduated tax – which is the opposite of fair. The only fair income tax would be one where everyone pays the same percentage of tax, such as 10%. Of course, Democrats hate that good idea.

  2. Miles Lacey says:

    While agreeing with most of these sites being included I disagree with the inclusion of RT. RT is simply peddling the world according to the Russian government so anything it says has to be treated with a very large grain of salt. It should really be called propaganda rather than lumped in with conspiracy theorists.

    • Frederick Eason says:

      RT does give a lot of credence to conspiracy theories. They’ve even allowed 9/11 truthers airtime on some of their programs to espouse their beliefs on what “really” happened on 9/11.

      • eddiec107 says:

        There are conspiracy theories everywhere. Every time there is a murder, there is a conspiracy. We now have forensic scientists that have made the criminal actions harder to go undetected, but yet, all of the overwhelming forensic evidence of foul play surrounding 9-11, is hushed by the media, and thousands of very qualified professionals are painted as lunatics for throwing up flags when they see obvious lies told to the public.
        The thousands of people who died on that day are now just expendable pawns for the war mongers who really brought those buildings down.

  3. Yoda says:

    While I agree with much of your observations I completely missed your commentary on even a single leftist website such as the Huffington Post, The Nation, or any others in the long list of delusional left wing media outlets that are convinced that the “ring wingers” are out to impoverish America and steal the American dream from the working class. They pander to the low end of the intellectual market who feel that they are entitled to make $75 per hour with their high school diploma and their union card. A good example is the recent calling for a $15 minimum wage for burger flippers that is just outrageous. Add to that the embracing of the recreational use of pot being pushed throughout the country and it is just enough to make you tune out of the “main stream media”. Let’s not even discuss the softball handling of this President that is always given the benefit of the doubt despite scandal after scandal unfolding each month.

    In my opinion there is very little “truth” to be told from any news source here in the U.S. All of the sources are completely biased either to the far left or the far right and there is a little in between. The same can be said of most politicians that are more interested in the the next election cycle than they are about the fate of this country that is in economic and moral decline. All of these entities (including the politicians) are owned by a handful of corporate interests that flame the fires by obscuring and even burying the realities to push their agendas. At this point “what does it matter?”.

    It is no wonder then that the more radical websites gain attention as the populous is tired of the same ole same ole watered down main stream outlets intended for those with an IQ slightly above a monkey that can pull a lever at election time.

    • Huffington Post was included in Brian’s 10 Worst Anti-Science websites, so I didn’t feel the need to write about it again.

      I also believe that many of the blogs included in the final entry have an extreme left slant, especially globalresearch.ca.

      • ClamPeople says:

        Buuuuuut you saw the need to reiterate Natural News, as “included [by] Brian,” so that point is kind of fallacious.

        Hee hee… fallacious is a funny word….

    • Reg says:

      Just wondering what you’d suggest in the way of shifting politician’s priorities away from the electoral cycle onto doing their jobs effectively “Yoda”? Jobs for life?

      The high income end of town, such as Cardiologists, have Lobby Groups and exclusive clubs rather than calling them unions. $75 an hour is shit to such persons who work on something in excess of $2000 an hour with no pressure to minimize over-heads and yet you begrudge a worker a few more dollars an hour as you reduce their effort to one of burger flipping. I bet you also think a sweaty humper of human detritus is also an unnecessary drain on society. But I wonder how much you’d be prepared to pay an hour to the guys who cleaned up the mess after your shitter had blown back all over your lovely carpets.

      I think your name and your priorities misrepresent your values Yoda. One might even suspect you’re distributing your own like piece of propaganda.

      It’s so upsetting to hear you’re tired from the pain of watching the lower end of society struggle from day to day yet still being allowed to vote. Your suffering is palpable.

      Perhaps you have a final solution in mind? I’m sure we’d like to hear what it is… NOT.

      • Yoda says:

        Dear Troll, The End.

        • Reg says:

          Dear Yoda, as expected, questions beyond your feeble capacity. If your brains exploded they wouldn’t disturb your equilibrium.

          • Yoda says:

            The truth is that I rarely communicate with intellectually challenged individuals that create visuals of feces back washing in to the carpeting. Do you really finding your speech worth a comment?

            I am just curious, how long have you been bilking the disability system?

            Your schizoaffective disorder is exquisite and you are certainly worth every penny for the sake of entertainment so do spout more at your leisure.

          • Reg says:

            Ah yes your pomposity is revealed afresh. In fact I’m an Aussie of independent means and extremely mature years sickened by your lack of sensitivity. My task is complete. Ta.

          • Yoda says:

            There are plenty of loafers in Australia and you are proof.

            Yes, I have heard that an endless stream of welfare checks does give a sense of independence but you are only fooling yourself.

          • Reg says:

            More of your ignorant presumption will not rescue you from your blind stupidity Yoda. Keep digging.

            … and it’s spelled cheque. 🙂

          • Yoda says:

            We are speaking American English here Duffus. We the server is located in other territories (and former prison colonies) in the kingdom, we can discuss your welfare “cheque”.

          • Yoda says:

            Sorry, typo correction “When the server” is located in a former prison colony…

          • Reg says:

            Obviously you’re not BLACK.

    • Miles Lacey says:

      Yoda,
      You are a brilliant advertisement for why the United States is in decline. Your arrogance is breathtaking, your ignorance of what goes on beyond your very narrow social circles is staggering and your total inability to actually discuss anything without resorting to national, racial or socio-economic stereotyping is beyond belief.

      If the average American thinks like you no wonder the United States has gone down the toilet! People like you have boxed the United States into a corner where it is incapable of action.

      Every time you insult a non-American you are insulting the people that are keeping the United States going. It’s Chinese national reserves that keeps the United States dollar where it is. It’s foreign taxpayers who bankroll Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole. It’s foreign buyers of American products who keep companies like Apple going. Every time Americans insult foreigners they drive away the people who are keeping Americans like you in a job.

      Nearly half of all Americans do not earn enough to meet their basic necessities, let alone buy consumer products being churned out by American businesses. Are you really so stupid that you cannot work out that if people can’t afford to buy the products a business sells that the business will go bust? That’s basic high school economics but I guess that no one ever taught you economics becasue all you needed to learn was how to manage your million dollar trust fund once you turned 21.

      The United States has become increasingly irrelevant. In the 1970s a small country that wanted a good standard of living had to borrow American dollars to grow their economy and had to export to the United States because it had the largest middle class and the largest disposeable income in the developed world. The United States called the shots and we had to listen.

      Those days are over.

      Other countries don’t need American money. Countries that need money for investment can go to China, India or even Japan and get money without strings or consultants attached. Other countries don’t need American consumers. Between them both China and India have nearly 500 million middle class consumers with money to burn and their middle classes are expanding every day by the millions. And other countries don’t need American goods. The Chinese may have made crap ten years ago but now their products are now as good as, if not better, than what the Americans produce. And I’ve owned both American and Chinese goods so I knoiw what I’m talking about.

      If Americans put as much money into research, development, the sciences and education as they put into bankrolling American businesses that are so useless they appoint senile old men who can’t remember anything they say or do onto their management boards the United States might start being taken seriously rather than acting as a shining beacon of how NOT to run a country.

      In short, Yoda, grow up and get a clue.

      • Yoda says:

        Listen chump, firstly, it was the moron that presented visuals of shit stained carpets dragging the conversation in to the intellect toilet before you decided to chime in to the conversation.

        Then you pipe up with your anti-Americanism talking about the “average American” that is just utter nonsense. Listen, you do not know a thing about me and you can save all of your pompous nonsense for someone who actually cares what you think.

        The entire U.S. could give a rat’s behind what about the world that is belly aching over one event or another. We are tired of cleaning up the problems of the world and footing the bill. We have been cleaning up the world’s messes since World War I. We are tired of your high and mighty attitudes whilst all of your countries sit on the sidelines bashing America and never ponying up when the bills come due. The fact is that would not be free today if it were not for the U.S. whether you have the capacity to comprehend this or not. Only the most uneducated brainwashed illiterate fool knows this. At least your grand parents had a grasp of reality that seemingly escapes your thick skulls.

        Since you are so fond of China and their surpluses gained only through slave labor, I suggest that you turn to them the next time there is an international crisis. They are doing a bang up job exploiting Northern Africa at the moment. Just wait to see what else they have in store for you.

        Go ahead and talk your trash and spend your meaningless hours talking crap about the United States, we do NOT care.

        • Yoda says:

          Typo correction: The fact is that YOU would not be free today if…

        • Marius says:

          Oh, but you do care, my small green fictional friend. Else why would you continue your frothy trumpeting of the US of A?
          A great nation indeed, if only because it is made of every other nation.

          • Yoda says:

            It is the greatest people from all over the world and always has been. It is no mystery that it is indeed the greatest nation on Earth and the leader of the free world.

          • Reg says:

            True, but in the hope of engendering a little humility remember that the Germans and Romans once projected the same certainty.

            When you’re on top the only way is down.

            Besides there is some doubt that Native Americans and African Americans would agree with your careless presumption that it’s always been thus.

          • Yoda says:

            Ask Native Americans and African Americans if they want to leave. Enough said.

      • Another Engineer says:

        Actually, China’s GDP is about 1/2 of what the US’s is. The US GDP is about the same as the entirety of the EU.

        Just to add to the discussion about Chinese investment.

        PS- Japan’s GDP is about 1/3 of the US’s.

  4. Russell G. says:

    All political partisan sites are very slanted, and generally untrustworthy. In particular I wouldn’t trust anything on Free Republic or Democraticunderground as far as I could throw a polar bear.
    Some of the “economic collapse” sites are hard to classify politically, but I’m not fond of any of them. Many of the right wing pro-collapse sites are very conspiratorial (and several are pretty much openly racist), while most of the collapse fantasists on the left are either Paul Ehrlich types fantasizing about the end of industrial civilization, or Marxists pushing class envy junk.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You are cool…thx for weighing in

  6. Robert says:

    Noted Physicists David Suzuki and Michio Kaku are not tin foil hat wearers and both have said that the Fukushima Disaster is just that. We are one typhoon or one earth quake away from having to evacuate the entire west coast of America. I guess I would take their view on world events before your, “debuggery”.

    Peace

  7. Stentor says:

    Troll-Fight! You’re both wrong because Rah-Rah-Rah We’re the Greatest Yoda likes to present the jingoistic we saved your ass over & over again rhetoric while the Wanker From Down Under likes to bash America at every turn. Both of you are guilty of making sweeping generalizations, strawman fallacies, & other fallacious (it’s funny because it sounds like fellatious) mistakes in logic. America has had it’s faults, but a country that began as a former penal colony has had it’s fair share of abuses (native americans versus the aboriginal australians anyone?) so both of you go to your rooms.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually, “Evidence of Time Travelers on the Internet” is a poor example of what’s wrong with Infowars. I generally wince when I see someone the site as a source for anything, but many respectable news organizations carried that story. I looked to see how Infowars covered it and it was a straight up, even scientifically accurate, report with none of the nonsense that so often appears there.

  9. Actually, “Evidence of Time Travelers on the Internet” isn’t a very good example of what’s wrong with Infowars. I generally wince when I see someone reference the site as a source for anything, but many respectable news organizations carried that particular story. I checked to see how Infowars covered it and it was a straight up, scientifically accurate, report with none of the nonsense that so often appears there.

  10. Axiom says:

    Which media has lied us into wars for the last 120 yrs since uss maine and lusitania through to wmds ?

  11. ExcaliburEdge says:

    Unfortunately, you seem to be anti-anything that might speak about conspiracies. And, yes, conspiracies have been going on behind the scenes for centuries. You almost seem like a shill for the government, big business and high finance, all of the entities that have a vested interest in keeping the ignorant masses down. I take what you have written with a grain of salt in a large ocean. Worthless!

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Yeah, conspiracies exist all over the place. There’s a whole category of crimes called “conspiracy”: conspiracy to distribute illicit substances, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to defraud, etc. Those allegations have to be backed up with evidence. Woodward and Bernstein proved a variety of conspiracies in the Nixon administration. Hillary Clinton and her staff conspired to evade federal records laws. Brutus and the Roman senators conspired to kill Caesar. No one here is “anti-anything that might speak about conspiracies.” Instead, skeptics are pro-evidence, pro-science, pro-rationality. If you’ve got evidence of a conspiracy, please feel free to share it. Otherwise I’ll take your opinion as what it is: only an opinion. You sound like a shill for ignorance and paranoia against truth and facts. Who’s paying you?

      • Dennis Richardson says:

        Even evidence is not enough if you do not the power to make your will dominate the opinions of other people. Kevin Annett, a Canadian Angelican, in Brussels, Belgium has a tribunal that has had eight eye witnesses testify that Francis I the Pope in Rome committed murder of children when he was a priest for the bad guys in a military Hunta in South America. Pressure for him to resign is not great enough. As the power for Albert 2 of Belgium, Elizabeth 2 of England, & other monarchs to step down but no prosecutions will happen. NO power to make what you want to come to pass means no evidence is sufficient. Elizabeth can not be prosecuted for any crime. English law says so, the Queen (she) is above the law since 1665(?)

  12. Dennis Richardson says:

    Unfortunately, that quote from Daniel P Moynihan, really does not settle the most important facts in the Universe where if your opinion about facts are really wrong you are going to have a really bad eternity. The majority of the people on earth are really certain that their facts are correct and other people’s facts are wrong and will kill to maintain the validity their facts. Murder really is the natural order of things, particularly with regard to religion. The belief that the world is flat was and still is believed to be true.
    Tell a Hindu that their facts are wrong regarding how the turtle and the elephants are arranged under the flat earth could cause you to have a really bad day. Tell a Islamists that “allah” is justifiably spelled with a small ‘a’ due to the idea that such a being is a figment of their imagination, will again cause the speaker to wish he did not say a thing.

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