Conventional source criticism no longer works!


Source criticism is the critical examination of source material and the assessment of the credibility of claims made in a source of information. Source criticism is a key scientific method for assessing the credibility of information provided by a source. The criteria involve asking who is the author of the source (what knowledge the person has), when the source was created, why (whether the person is neutral), and whether the information can be verified and is consistent with other independent sources.

The above sounds good, but unfortunately it no longer works. Why? Because sources of information are largely controlled and owned by power elites who have ownership in many sectors. This applies to the media in general, social media, researchers, experts, TV and indirectly government officials and politicians. In addition, these power elites exercise extensive censorship of dissidents through exclusion, "fact-checking", threats, discrediting, dismissal, bullying, persuasion, etcetera. Most scientists and experts are not free to say what they want because they usually receive salaries, fees, and recommendations from companies owned by the power elite. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that power elites control organizations behind fact-checking, which has now become a major power factor. The public believes in fact-checks and often does not know who is behind them and their intentions. As if this weren't enough, there are great opportunities to design scientific experiments in ways that benefit the client.

So how must source criticism be done? It must include broad investigations into ownership, cross-ownership, board positions, past relationships, networks, funding, involvement in other organizations, potential for profit and benefits, court cases, collective patterns in the media, manipulated information, experimental design, etcetera. This is complex and time-consuming work, but without it, source criticism is not worth much.

Just to take a small example of conflict of interest. James C. Smith was, until recently, the CEO of the world's largest news agency, Reuters. Most of what we read in newspapers or see on TV comes from this international source. James C. Smith is also on the board of Pfizer. The largest shareholders in Pfizer are Blackrock Inc and Vanguard Group. And their largest shareholders are Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon. The Vanguard Group is also one of the five largest owners of Reuters. These kinds of troublesome connections can be found everywhere in transnational companies.

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