Monday, November 13, 2017

Misinformation in the Supreme Court of the United States

Think making decisions based on unreliable information is only a problem for gullible social media users like your Uncle Larry? Think again.

In a recent review of 83 Supreme Court of the United States cases, ProPublica reporter Ryan Gabrielson found that seven contained factual errors or unsupported claims -- including instances where these sloppy information sources affected the ultimate outcome of the case.

 The ProPublica report begins:
"In 2007, a group of California Institute of Technology scientists working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory filed suit against the venerated space agency. Many of the scientists had worked on NASA missions and research for years as outside employees.
As part of efforts to tighten security measures after 9/11, in 2004 NASA started requiring outside workers to submit to the same kind of background checks used for federal employees, including questions about drug use. The scientists, some of the nation’s best and brightest, protested and resisted for years, and finally went to court to argue that the checks violated their privacy rights.
The case ultimately made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, in 2011, the justices unanimously sided with NASA. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion, made a central point of noting that such background checks had long been commonplace in the private sector. Alito even cited a very specific statistic: 88 percent of all private companies in the country conduct such checks, he wrote.
It was a powerful claim in a decision with real consequences for American workers. It was also baseless."
Check out the full story for more insights and analysis from this Supreme Court fact check, plus an interview with Gabrielson and a link to Holman Library's News Literacy Guide below!

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