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Hope Library Guides

Skeptical Researching in the Age of Media Mistrust: Workshop Examples

Group 1: Is it true?

Using your sleuthing skills! Decide in your group if the following two images are accurate.  Share your findings with the group as well as your strategies for figuring this out.
  • Did the Notorious B.I.G. and Kurt Cobain meet?
  • What strategies did you use to investigate the authenticity of this image?

Images of Biggie and Kurt Cobain in a car with social media commentary alongside


The following graphic was circulated by anti-gun group Everytown when Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, called for increased security staff in schools last year. The graphic claims to quote a speech he gave in 1999.

  • Find the origins of this quote. Did LaPierre say this?
  • If so, is Everytown's claim that he flip-flopped his stance valid?

Images of Wayne LaPierre with quote "We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools. Period."

Group 2: Cognitive Bias

The following graphic attempts to summarize Cognitive Biases, which are the many ways our brains take shortcuts to try to make sense of a complex world. These mental shortcuts can cause us to make mistakes of interpretation. What do our brains bring to the mix that can make it hard to objectively evaluate media sources?

Click to enlarge this image in order to view the different categories of Cognitive Bias. Then, consider the social media image below. (can click to view in context)

An infographic if many forms of cognitive bias, the contents of which are summarized in the article located at


In large lettering: "Not so fun facts. Monsanto's Glyphosate causes every type of cancer. Independent research shows harm to human health begins at very low levels..." Contains images of popular cereals and snacks along with the measured amounts of glysphosate.

  • ​What areas of cognitive bias might this meme take advantage of in the way that it presents its argument? (you can think the broader categories, not the individual biases)
  • What biases might a viewer fall victim to in their reaction to this image?
  • How do we overcome cognitive bias as skeptical researchers?

(Originally created as a part of this article.)

Group 3: Interpreting Research

In your group, look at these similar articles on the health benefits of chocolate.

Examine their interpretation of the research and what source(s) they are citing for the claim (if any).  Try to find your way back to the original source.

  • How do the authors' choices in titles impact how you view the article? How well does each title relate to the article's content as well as the original research it summarizes?
  • What are the different purposes of the websites that reports this research? Does one has more authority than the other as a source for summarizing scientific research?
  • How should we approach media summaries of original research in relation to the research itself?



Group 4: Digging Deep

In your group, consider the following:


Answer the following questions, and be prepared to share your responses with the class

  • Who is behind the website/organization?  Can you figure out where the money is coming from?
  • What does an "About" page tell you about a website?  What is it missing?
  • How does this influence how much you trust this source?

Final Discussion

Go to the website Enter the Room Name 446793 and describe where you typically get your news.