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is snopes biased?

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I was on another forum and somebody said "oh that's just a myth - here's all the details at snopes.com". I've heard of this site before and went to see how they debunked a myth. The claim was that a manufacturer was pushing some toxic stuff. So somebody at snopes called the manufacturer who replied "no, our stuff is safe." There was more to it, and while it seemed the claim was unlikely, it didn't seem there was enough evidence to say that the claim was false. Yet there it was, at the top "Status: false"

I think that the evalutation could have been "might be false" or they could even be as bold to say "probably false".

I poked around a bit and I was left feeling pretty skeptical of the site.

Somebody else mentioned truthorfiction.com and I got the same vibe from there.

I looked up aspartame at both sites. I have met lots of people that really suffer when they consume aspartame. Yet both sites appear to give aspartame a clean bill of health.

The idea of having a trusted source debunk myths is a great idea. I just wonder if there can be other sites that might do this that I might be able to trust a bit more.

Anybody know of one?
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I'm not speaking for snopes, but I have spent a lot of time on the site and their message boards. Based on that, here's my understanding:-

I poked around a bit and I was left feeling pretty skeptical of the site.

That's pretty much how snopes wants you to feel. The site is skeptical in nature, and snopes doesn't mind.. correct that.. I think he would prefer that people feel a little more skeptical after reading his site.

From their FAQ

Q: How do I know the information you've presented is accurate?

A: We don't expect anyone to accept us as the ultimate authority on any topic, which is why our site's name indicates that it contains reference pages. Unlike the plethora of anonymous individuals who create and send the unsigned, unsourced e-mail messages that are forwarded all over the Internet, we show our work. The research materials we've used in the preparation of any particular page are listed in the bibliography displayed at the bottom of that page so that readers who wish to verify the validity of our information may check those sources for themselves.

You might want to look at The Repository Of Lost Legends

No single truth purveyor, no matter how reliable, should be considered an infallible font of accurate information. Folks make mistakes. Or they get duped. Or they have a bad day at the fact-checking bureau. Or some days they're just being silly. To not allow for any of this is to risk stepping into a pothole the size of Lake Superior.

It's just as much a mistake to look to a usually-reliable source to do all of the thinking, judging, and weighing as it was to unquestioningly believe every unsigned e-mail that came along. Far too many have transferred the same breathlessly unbounded faith they used to accord various bits of e-tripe to those who make it their life's work to get to the bottom of crazy stories. It's sad to say, but the behavior of abdicating responsibility remains the same even though who is being believed has changed. It's still an abdication.

"You just keep on thinking, Butch; that's what you're good at," works as a life philosophy only if you're the Sundance Kid. And most of us ain't.

What does this mean, then � don't believe anything, no matter who researches and presents it? Hardly. When facts are needed, it's still right to turn to news and information outlets that have a proven track record for providing good information. The trick is to recognize the dividing line between "reliable" and "infallible" and thus learn how to avoid throwing oneself bodily across it. Or, in other words, don't throw the common sense out with the bathwater.


Okay, so even the big boys have fallen off the beam at times, thus proving it's a mistake to worship at even their feet. What's an aspiring skeptic to do when common sense whispers one thing and a trusted source shouts another?

The answer is startlingly simple: Look for more information. That internal taffy-pull should be interpreted as a sign that more legwork is needed before a position � pro or con � can be adopted. Rather than arbitrarily throwing belief in either direction ("My teacher wouldn't lie" versus "My teacher must be wrong about this"), make the effort to find out which is right, this time by consulting a variety of sources.

Among other things (including providing a good read and some wonderful belly laughs), we hope this site helps our visitors learn to judge the quality of information presented to them. We'd like to think those who stop by here learn a little something about what steps to mentally take when pondering the eternal "hoax or true?" question. As wonderfully gratifying as it is to be regarded as infallible, we'd much rather see our visitors discover the key to their own abilities.

Also, if you beleive snopes' analysis is incorrect, he has an open forum for anyone to debate his analysis. You can go into snopes message board, go to the Urban legends section, find the section that matches your topic, and post your analysis. snopes should answer you within a day or so, (although registration takes couple of days, so you may not get an answer as soon as you like). AFAIK, Skeptics are always welcome on that board, and if you want to, you can go ahead and challenge snopes yourself.
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