Given the large number of conspiracy theories making it into the broader media, it's worth noting the incredible irony in people who criticize the mainstream media and then proceed to turn to "alternative media" like InfoWars, David Icke, QAnon, TFES.org, and OANN for their information.
The alleged purpose of eschewing the mainstream media (aka: "the lamestream media") is that "they lie". The vicious/cruel (and yet delightful) irony, is that the media that replaces the MSM in this case is so much less accountable than the MSM (with accountability being zero in many instances) and is therefore much, much more likely to lie.
There are literally no constraints on the vast majority of these groups to stop them from just making shit up... and since the more outlandish the claim, the more likely it is for people to click on it (and for it to go viral on facebook), the information that is fabricated is oftentimes absurd (which is part of the irony).
Example #1: QAnon is a great example: you don't even know who he/she/it/they is/are. There's no accountability at all. No known credentials. No known sources. It could be a single person, it could be a group of people. Nobody knows. They could be operating from within the US, or outside of it. They could be receiving significant payments from a company (or companies) or a government (or governments), or maybe not. Nobody knows.
Example #2: InfoWars is also a great example. If you watch InfoWars for more than 5 minutes, their MO becomes quite clear: offer up as many theories as possible in the shortest amount of time and cross your fingers one of them eventually comes to fruition. Never mind that 99% of what comes out of InfoWars is un-sourced, fabricated garbage. Never mind that there are no fact checkers, and they never issue a correction or a retraction. Never mind that in a historical retrospective, nothing that Alex Jones says actually comes true... and if you keep score, you'll see it's often the opposite.
That's how people end up believing that "chemicals in the water are turning frogs gay, or that Sandy Hook was staged " and that "5G is causing the coronavirus "
It's a little like astrology: "Today, you will experience unexpected joy. There will be challenges in one of your primary relationships. The past will be particularly relevant." It's entirely possible for any of those to happen on any given day, or all of them. And once you have a disagreement with your partner about which way the knives should be stored in the wood block in your kitchen, you think "Hmmm.. challenging partner. My horoscope was right!".
It's worth noting that someone took Alex Jones to court for defamation over his claims that Sandy Hook was staged and the guy won his defamation case .. and part of Alex Jones defense was: "Infowars’ Alex Jones blames ‘psychosis’ for his Sandy Hook hoax claim".
Part of Jones' defense in a child custody battle was: "He [Alex] is playing a character," Wilhite said of Jones. "He is a performance artist."
My favorite examples are the Jade Helm conspiracy theories. They're amazing - and worth reading in their entirety (there's a link below). They include such gems as "Some conspiracy theorists have connected the Jade Helm 15 military exercise with an apocalypse caused by a comet or asteroid striking the Earth". Needless to say, neither a comet nor an asteroid struck the earth, and literally every single conspiracy theory regarding Jade Helm turned out to be wrong.
But that didn't stop Alex Jones from making that shit up - and it didn't stop people from believing it - all while pillorying the "lamestream media" as a bunch of liars.
Isn't that delightful?
Here's a great/apt quote on QAnon:
Here are some QAnon theories that are completely absurd:
Example #3: Another one of my favorite examples are the flat earth folks. There are a handful of examples of cases where they predict they can prove the earth is flat using science, and then end up proving the opposite. One uses a gyroscope and expects it not to drift 15 degrees per hour if the earth is flat (and for it to drift 15 degrees an hour if it's round) ... they observe the drift. The other uses a laser to shine across a long span through 3 holes, all at the same height .. if the laser can be seen through the 3rd hole, then the earth is flat. If they need to lower the center hole (to account for the curvature of the earth), then the earth is round. They end up having to lower the middle hole to see the laser all the way through. Neither flat earther changes his mind as a result of just having proven the earth is rotating and that it has curvature.
Example #4: David Icke is the originator of the conspiracy theory that ties 5G to the coronavirus. This one has the distinction of being (a) incredibly dumb and (b) incredibly wide-spread, given it's absurdity.
While no single source of news will always be 100% accurate, you really have to take into account each sources historical accuracy (as this is truly the only way to really know if something previously reported pans out). If you do this, you'll observe trends - and in the end, there's sort of a "thumbs up/thumbs down" on each outlet: do these people generally report accurate information?
In the end, you can't cherry-pick .. you either have to view a given media outlet as "generally a source of truth" or as "generally not a source of truth" ... if you're cherry-picking, you're fooling yourself - news is just a series of confirmation biases (and so it won't matter where you get your news from).
I believe that truth about something that happened right now is unknowable (unless you observed it firsthand). The probability of being wrong is proportional to how "new" the news is: meaning, "breaking news" often has the most misleading information .. news that has had a long time exposed to scrutiny generally calcifies as fact (though not always), then becomes history.
This isn't always true, however. E.g: we were told in the 80s, by the FDA, that "fat is bad" and that if everyone switched to a low-fat diet we could avoid the obesity crisis. That was "known truth" for like 30 years, and later turned out to be very poor advice indeed, and ignored the incredibly detrimental effects of processed foods and high glycemic carbs / sugar added to nearly everything. As a result, the truth about food and health is very muddy indeed.
There are many examples of this, but in general (1) time is a factor I use in evaluating information and (2) historical retrospect is also totally key .. for some reason, many/most people don't use this as part of their evaluation and I'm not sure why, but I'm confident it's a major mechanism in play when people are hopelessly mislead.
"Other theories have described Jade Helm 15 as a "secret plot" to impose martial law, confiscate firearms, invade Texas, and institute "total population control."
"The conspiracy theories included: a "psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing military forces on the streets" so that they do not realize when an invasion actually takes place; an international operation aimed to seize people's guns; recently closed Walmarts used by the military to "stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans"; and a military plan to "round up political dissidents" and "remove key political figures" who may be against the imposition of martial law"
"Conspiracy theorist and Texas radio host Alex Jones said that "helm" is an acronym for "Homeland Eradication of Local Militants"."
"Some conspiracy theorists have connected the Jade Helm 15 military exercise with an apocalypse caused by a comet or asteroid striking the Earth."
"There was some tie-in between the Jade Helm 15 exercise and a resurgence of the FEMA camps conspiracy theory with the exercise raising fear that it was a dry run for forcing citizens into internment camps."
"The conspiracy theorists claim that Jade Helm 15 is a dress rehearsal for the imposition of martial law which would be implemented in the event of a catastrophe of this level of severity. "
"But some conspiracy theorists claim that the object has been tracked for years, the object name is known but its published coordinates and orbit information are incorrect, and the threat is not publicly listed because of the thought that panic would ensue. The apocalypse failed to happen on September 15, 2015."