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Navigating Online News and Information (NONI)

Investigate Facts and Arguments: What are the Facts, Claims, and Evidence?

Applying your lateral reading skills, just as when you investigate the information source, you can investigate the facts, claims, and evidence the source provides.

We encounter claims online all of the time. Claims can be classified using the following three types:

  1. Claims of Fact - Claims that assert the truth or existence of something and can be tested by examining evidence for the claim.
  2. Claims of Value - Claims that make a judgment about the worth or value of something, usually judging something as praiseworthy or blameworthy, beautiful or ugly, or simply good or bad.
  3. Claims of Policy - Claims about how we should respond to a situation or state of affairs through a particular action or piece of legislation.

In this guide, we are focused mostly on Claims of Fact. In this case, whether a claim of fact is true depends on what evidence someone provides to back up the claim. We can investigate whether a claim of fact is true, reasonable, or plausible by reading laterally to find other trusted sources that corroborate the evidence or that refute the claim. If a claim of fact is true, then multiple news or information organizations will probably document or report on it. So, by reviewing multiple sources, we should be able to find a kind of consensus among reputable information organizations about the facts.

Learn more from Mike Caulfield's Online Verification Skills videos

Learn more from Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information videos

Resources for Investigating Facts and Arguments