Absolutely (NOT) Fake News!

We live in a strange time when the term Fake News is heard multiple times a day if you consume any sort of media regularly—TV, internet, magazines, etc. Our Dear Leader uses the term often, especially in his voluminous tweets. So how are we to figure out what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to news? Here is one fun tool that may help shed some light on the topic. Designed to foster certain tendencies in its users, the game Factitious is free on the web. The makers of the game, Game Lab at American University in Washington D.C. and JoLT, another cooperative of various departments at American University, hope to help raise player’s IQ when it comes to spotting the differences between fake and real news.

The game is easy to play. You log on and see this screen:

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You can either go right into the game via quick start or you can register via full start and enter your name, age, gender, educational level and email address to keep track of your progress. Either route you choose the game begins with this screen:

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You are shown a full, brief article that actually appeared somewhere on the web and asked to discern whether or not it is fake news. If you think it is fake, you either swipe left or check the red x. If you think it’s true, swipe right or click the green check mark. Pretty easy, right? Well, not so fast. The article in the second picture above sounds sensational, so it has to be fake right? How can you be sure? It just sounds implausible, right—eating brains has a health benefit?

As it turns out, there are clues, such as are there verifiable details in the story? Are there individuals mentioned by name that can easily corroborate the story? Is the story verified by other outlets running the same or similar stories? These are all good clues that a story is genuine. What are some earmarks of fake news? There are often few to no details for a fake news stories: anonymous sources make spurious claims, there are vague mentions of locations and many other specific details are lacking specifics. Additionally, many fake news stories fail to link to other, known reputable sites, such as major news networks or popular, widely read blogs, and many times the journalists are not mentioned by name.

As you go through the game you are given the opportunity to test how well you do or do not use these tools to make discerning choices in your reading material.  There are three rounds, and you’re given a score at the end of each round:

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By the time you finish you are given a final score and given some mild praise (note the confetti):

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This game is a good way to begin assuring yourself and others that you get your news from reputable sites and are not taken in by deceivers. The game can be tricky, with some outlandish stories proving true and other, more innocuous appearing stories exposed as fake. The real world will often present the same difficulties, so we have to do our best to help decide for ourselves, and others, what sources we can trust and what sources we cannot.

One problem with this site is that there aren’t enough stories loaded onto the site to play more than a few rounds before you start to see stories repeated. I have made a request to see if there is a planned upgrade, but as of this writing I have not heard back. I will update if this status changes.

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Taking a High School Equivalency Test in Tennesse

Taking a High School Equivalency test in Tennessee

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the GED—it’s the test that for years we have known one could take to earn a high school diploma instead of graduating in the conventional sense. Did you know that the GED is no longer offered in the state of Tennessee? The new official test is the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test).

It can be a bit confusing to figure out how to take the official HiSET and earn a diploma, so here is the process, according to Customer Service for the HiSET test.  Essentially one is required to first take the official practice test for the HiSET. For Memphis here are the official sites where one may do so:

Building Address City Zip Phone
Idlewild Presbyterian Church 1750 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Midtown Church of Christ 1930 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Randolph Library – Memphis Public Library 3752 Given Avenue Memphis 38122 844-721-8800
Memphis & Shelby County Office of Re-Entry 1362 Mississippi Blvd. Memphis 38106 844-721-8800
Workforce Investment Network 480 Beale Street Memphis 38103 844-721-8800
Sexton Community Center 1235 Brown Avenue Memphis 38126 844-721-8800

Once the practice test is officially passed, the tester will receive the paperwork necessary to schedule and take the official test. Once the official test is satisfactorily passed then the individual is now a holder of an official diploma, valid in all states!

Helpful Medical Links That Go Deeper

Need medical information that goes deeper than or covers areas other than those covered by WebMD.com and the like?  Here are some more specialized sites for your consideration.

Should Your Child See a Doctor?

If you’re worried about your child’s health, this site will likely help you make a decision as to what to do next.  From the site:  “These guidelines (topics) are intended to help you determine how sick your child is and if you need to call your child’s doctor. Their second purpose is to help you treat your child at home when it is safe to do so.” (Emphasis mine)

Medline Plus

You may already be familiar with Medline Plus, as it is similar to WebMd and other health portals.  The distinction with this site is it is directly funded and informed by the federal government.  From the site: “Health professionals and consumers alike can depend on it for information that is authoritative and up-to-date. MedlinePlus has extensive information from the National Institutes of Health and other trusted sources on over 975 diseases and conditions. There are directories, a medical encyclopedia and a medical dictionary, health information in Spanish, extensive information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, health information from the media, and links to thousands of clinical trials. MedlinePlus is updated daily and can be bookmarked at the URL: https://medlineplus.gov/. There is no advertising on this site, nor does MedlinePlus endorse any company or product.”

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of John Hopkins Medical Center publishes a media center with videos and podcasts.  From the site: “Your video channel for cancer learning is a click away. Tune to the Kimmel Cancer Center’s YouTube channel to learn about the latest discoveries in cancer and education on cancer topics, including clinical trials, caregiving, finances, and social security. New videos are added periodically, so subscribe to the channel for instant updates.”

Foodborne Illness

Did you know that each year 1 in 6 of us will get sick due to contamination in something we eat or drink? Knowing how to avoid and/or treat these illnesses is important. The CDC is here to help. The CDC is a vast federal organization with a vast website, so it may be daunting for some.  The site on Foodborne Illness is full of helpful information and easy to use. From the site: “Foodborne illness (sometimes called ‘foodborne disease,’ ‘foodborne infection’, or ‘food poisoning’) is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections. In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if they are present in food.”

Anatomy Atlases

The Anatomy Atlases are no joke.  Created by Dr. Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., who has taught anatomy at eminent universities for decades, it is a comprehensive and detailed anatomy atlas for use by doctors, students and various medical professionals, that can also be perused and used by laypeople. It lists as its mission: “To educate patients, healthcare providers, and students in a free and anonymous manner; For the purpose of improving patients’ care, outcome, and lives; Using current, authoritative, trustworthy health information; While serving as a platform for research into the challenges facing world-wide information distribution.”

Further, its goals are to “Curate a comprehensive digital library of anatomy information for patients and providers, Maximize the impact of this digital library by enhancing awareness among potential users at local, national, and international levels, Ensure an optimal educational experience through simplicity and clarity in design, and Lead the way to a better understanding of digital libraries through a process of on-going evaluation.”

Despite its free status this may be the most helpful, informative site out there concerning Anatomy.

A Report on Women and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/8436.pdf

This report, “A Report on Women and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.”, is released from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It provides statistics on women and HIV/AIDS in the U.S. including the number of new cases by race, geography, and age. Transgender, lesbian, and bisexual women are also counted. Some statistics on men are included. Insurance coverage, poverty, drug use, sexual abuse, and treatment programs are also listed. At the beginning of the report, a history of HIV/AIDS is shown from 1981 – 2013.

FindYouthInfo.gov

http://findyouthinfo.gov/

From the website, “FindYouthInfo.gov is the U.S. government Web site that helps you create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs.” One section of the website provides information of different topics that affect youth. Each listing provides the latest resources on the subject.

There is also a “Map My Community” section which provides information on federally supported youth resources in a community. A search can be done by zip code. There are different topics and government departments that allow you to limit the search to just that specific program. Collaboration profiles are also included for non-profits and private agencies.

Drinking and Driving among High School Students, 1991-2011

http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/TeenDrinkingAndDriving/index.html

This report from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Vital Signs provides statistics on teenage drivers aged 16 and above. The years 1991-2011 are reviewed. Statistics include the percentage of teens who drink and drive, by race, age, and state. The full report lists both state and national statistics. A breakdown between male and females who drink and drive is also listed in the full report.

Online Pedophilia

http://www.cpiu.us/statistics-2/

Statistics on pedophilia or child abuse can be hard to find. This website, from the Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, provides just that sort of information. From the site, “The CPIU was formed by a coalition of computer experts, law enforcement agents and counter-pedophilia experts. The primary goal of the CPIU is to educate the public in how to protect their children and increase general public awareness about this important subject.”

Statistics on the website include information about victims of sexual assault, pedophiles, convicted prisoners, students in school and sex offenders. Child internet pornography statistical information is provided and magazine articles are listed.  The statistical information seems to be based off of national statistics from the United States Department of Justice and other organizations.