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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Skeptical Science takes the Pro-Truth-Pledge

Posted on 7 January 2019 by BaerbelW , John Cook

Skeptical Science has been fighting misinformation about human-caused climate change since the website was launched in 2007. But with the rise in prevalence of fake news over the last few years, protecting truth and facts has become more important than ever. To help with that task, some additional means by which to distinguish between truth-tellers and those who spread misinformation would be useful to have. This is where the Pro-Truth-Pledge comes in.

ProTruthPledge

The Pro-Truth-Pledge (website: www.ProTruthPledge.org) has been established in order to reclaim the fuzzy concept of "truth," which different people may interpret differently.  It gives a much stricter definition, outlined by the following twelve clearly-observable behaviors that research in behavioral science shows correlate with truthfulness:

Share truth

  • Verify: fact-check information to confirm it is true before accepting and sharing it
  • Balance: share the whole truth, even if some aspects do not support my opinion
  • Cite: share my sources so that others can verify my information
  • Clarify: distinguish between my opinion and the facts

Honor truth

  • Acknowledge: acknowledge when others share true information, even when we disagree otherwise
  • Reevaluate: reevaluate if my information is challenged, retract it if I cannot verify it
  • Defend: defend others when they come under attack for sharing true information, even when we disagree otherwise
  • Align: align my opinions and my actions with true information

Encourage truth

  • Fix: ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies
  • Educate: compassionately inform those around me to stop using unreliable sources even if these sources support my opinion
  • Defer: recognize the opinions of experts as more likely to be accurate when the facts are disputed
  • Celebrate: celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth

This has been the approach of the Skeptical Science team all along when it comes to climate science. Which is why we decided to head into 2019 with taking the Pro-Truth-Pledge as an organisation - even if this is somewhat akin to "stating the obvious" as the rating of "factual reporting: very high" for Skeptical Science on Media Bias/FactCheck makes pretty clear!

Private citizens, public figures, and organizations can take the pledge. Private citizens get the benefit of contributing to a more truthful society. Public figures and organizations get reputational rewards, since the pledge provides them with external credibility by holding them accountable through crowd-sourced fact-checking. Please check the Pro-Truth-Pledge website and poke around their list of other public figures who already took the pledge.

How about taking the Pro-Truth-Pledge as well? Simply click the orange "Take the Pledge" button at the top right of their website. Then, spread the word about the pledge throughout your contact network to encourage them to follow suit. Together, we can make a real difference in fighting misinformation and protecting truth and facts!

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Comments

Comments 1 to 4:

  1. This is such good advice. Sad in a way people need reminding.

    I stumbled on a so called science website, complete with advertisements for viagra and a book on the illuminati, and no list of the academic qualifications of its authors. Obviously the website could be completely ignored as unreliable. You have to filter out things that are a waste of time.

    One thing on verifying truth and intelligent opinion. Look for inconsistencies because these are the sign of poor quality thinking and a lack of intelligence. 

    I wonder if science has been just a little unlucky lately, and its just a temporary thing. We have had the climate gate emails where phrasing of certain statements created a bad impression, a mistake in one of the IPCC reports, the science community has revised its views on saturated fats, there have been a few other things that create the erroneous impression science has got things badly wrong. Of course if you look at the specifics, and put it in context its all nothing of consequence.

    Yet this has coincided with globalisation causing some problems, another apparent failure of experts, (it isnt) and the development of the internet and social media which turbo charges the exchange of conspiracy theory nonsense.

    I would say the net result is some well meaning ordinary people jump to the wrong conclusion that "elites cant be trusted". Its so frustrating because if anything expert knowledge is better than ever before!

    I hope sanity will prevail, and it will all blow over.

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  2. I think this type of approach is the key to getting people to understand the importance of fact checking and actuatly doing it.  I would also suggest the importance of addressing the content of what people say, not the person saying it.  That is, criticize (in a friendly way) the comment, not the commenter.

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  3. “… has been established in order to reclaim the fuzzy concept of "truth," which different people may interpret differently.” It is very unfortunate that our society does not have a definition of truth. Most people like to think that the following is the correct definition – You have your own truth and I have my own truth. But this cannot be correct. If this were correct then Galileo would still be in jail today. Truth must be unique, universal, and eternal.

    The following definition of truth can be found embedded in many books of all religions, like in Bible and Vedas. (1) The laws of nature are the only truths. (2) The objects of nature and their characteristics create these laws. (3) The nature always demonstrates its all truths.

    Item (3) is the most important part of the definition. If you search carefully, like Galileo did, you will always be able to see a demonstration of every truth, given by nature. Thus a fact can be defined as something that can be observed in nature. Somebody killed somebody – is always a fact, because somebody observed it. Ayn Rand said, “Truth is not for all men, it is only for those who seek it.” The internet has all the truths, but you must seek it carefully.

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  4. IdPnSD, 

    I am not quite convinced by your argument. Some of it is confusing: "Somebody killed somebody – is always a fact, because somebody observed it." Does that allude to the act being witnessed by another party than the 2 participants? If yes, it is false, the act does not require a witness to be real, and the participants are witnesses themselves. Furthermore, it implies that events that do not have witnesses are not real, which is nonsense. 

    You may not always see a demonstration of every truth. It took the immense power of the LHC to "see" the Higgs Boson, there may never be any experimental setup able to show superstrings. 

    Who cares what Ayn Rand said?

    The internet does not have all the truths because no source is entirely exhaustive and even if it was, that could be the case only for a fleeting moment in time.

    That being said, there is indeed a lot of information to be had on the internet, some of it useless, much of it valuable. The problem is a severe lack of critical thinking in the general population and an emotional attachement to ideology that effectively disables judgment. Seeking truth carefully implies that one must be ready to accept being wrong, or seeing their prefered ideology whoefully inadequate. It also requires to accept that certainty is nowhere to be had, only varying levels of probability, and constant revision as knowledge is refined.

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