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Old 24th November 2009, 12:25 PM   #1
SonOfLaertes
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Is Snopes polically biased?

In a past life, I worked in Network Administration for my current employer. As E-mail was within my realm of responsibilities, I quickly developed a boiling hatred of chain mail, and all those who forward chain-mail for fun and "profit".

Snopes.com was my go-to source to try and debunk most chain mails. At the time (some years ago) I did some research and determined that Snopes was, in general, reliable and a-political. I used Snopes as a way to try to get my chain-mail sending friends to think before they click.

I was forwarded an e-mail today from one of my (very conservative) friends. He was crowing about the content, which painted Snopes in a very unfavorable light (biased to liberal opinions). Many of you have probably already received this e-mail.

I need some help here. Is Snopes biased? All the research I have done seems to indicate that they do the best they can, and while not infallible, they are a good starting place to begin a fact-finding search.

Opinions? What I am looking for in particular is statements or opinions on Snopes from reliable, well-known Conservatives. I have found many sites giving Snopes good grades but none of them are undeniably "right"-leaning.
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:31 PM   #2
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What does Snopes say about the anti-snopes forward?
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Praktik View Post
What does Snopes say about the anti-snopes forward?
I don't believe they have responded to it yet; at least a Snopes search of some key phrases from the e-mail such as "Snopes--Eye Opener" didn't turn up any hits. I've concentrated on trying to find opinion from other sites, however.
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:42 PM   #4
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If by "is Snopes liberally biased because they reveal the facts not convenient ideological spin" then, yes, it is liberally biased.
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:43 PM   #5
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[cobert]
I think the real issue is that reality has a liberal bias
[/cobert]
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:45 PM   #6
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Factcheck.org has basically debunked the e-mail but I don't think their opinion would be convincing to the doubters -

http://www .factcheck.org/2009/04/snopescom/
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:52 PM   #7
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You could point out that Snopes doesn't have to be accepted on authority. The page debunking each legend gives the logic behind the debunking, the evidence supporting the debunking and sources for the evidence.

There are however people that don't respond to evidence and logic. Some dogmatic conservatives and liberals are simply authoritarian followers. Truth is defined as whatever their leaders say is true, even if it doesn't make sense.
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:54 PM   #8
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This might be a better link.
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JCL View Post
[cobert]
I think the real issue is that reality has a liberal bias
[/cobert]
Bingo!
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Old 24th November 2009, 12:57 PM   #10
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As has been stated already, the non-partisan folks at FactCheck.org have already thoroughly debunked the email alleging liberal bias from Snopes. Of course, to someone who lives down the rabbit-hole of extreme rightwing ideology, this will mean nothing except that perhaps FactCheck.org is also part of said liberal conspiracy
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
As has been stated already, the non-partisan folks at FactCheck.org have already thoroughly debunked the email alleging liberal bias from Snopes. Of course, to someone who lives down the rabbit-hole of extreme rightwing ideology, this will mean nothing except that perhaps FactCheck.org is also part of said liberal conspiracy
Exactly. That is why I'm searching for statements from somebody/some organization that the wing-nuts would have a hard time dismissing.

I'm hoping somebody remembers a source that would fit the bill.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:20 PM   #12
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I'd thought it was common knowledge the Barbara Snopes is liberal. Something like contributions to the democratic party, plus a bit of a slant to just a few articles. Things like participant numbers in one of the marches in D.C. ? Seems I remember some hoo-hoo a couple years back.

But most of their articles deal with historical facts. Not much room for political bias.

But every time I visit, I get a pop-under. So I keep my visits to the minimum.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:30 PM   #13
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factcheck.org found no contributions to either party.

the husband was a registered republican in 2000
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:30 PM   #14
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I haven't seen any "liberal bias" there. The Snopes article "Hanoi'd with Jane" is pretty harsh - one of the more overtly damning pieces I can recall having read there (scare quotes surrounding the words "apologized" and "apology", for example). That's the only biased Snopes article I know of. That article ticked off a couple of my more liberal friends, who then claimed Snopes had a conservative bias...
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by SonOfLaertes View Post
<snip>

Opinions? What I am looking for in particular is statements or opinions on Snopes from reliable, well-known Conservatives. I have found many sites giving Snopes good grades but none of them are undeniably "right"-leaning.
I consider myself to be undeniably right-leaning, and I love Snopes. I've been visiting their site for years and have never noticed any kind of liberal bias. I know you're looking for the opinion of well-known conservatives. Sorry, I'm working on it.

I'm actually very famous; but not very many people know it yet.*

*not plagiarizing, just can't remember where I heard that line.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:36 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
I'd thought it was common knowledge the Barbara Snopes is liberal. Something like contributions to the democratic party, plus a bit of a slant to just a few articles. Things like participant numbers in one of the marches in D.C. ? Seems I remember some hoo-hoo a couple years back.

But most of their articles deal with historical facts. Not much room for political bias.

But every time I visit, I get a pop-under. So I keep my visits to the minimum.
Actually, a lot of their articles debunk widely circulated e-mails, many of which are political in nature. Debunking chain mail is, for me, Snopes' most valuable asset, and I would hate to lose this resource, politics aside.

Mikkelson may be a Democrat, but her husband was a Republican until 2000, at which point he became an independent, which sounds suspiciously like my own recent history.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:37 PM   #17
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Snopes has always come across as apolitical to me. I think the fact that Snopes has been shooting down the "ACLU to outlaw religion" and "Obama is evil" e-mails has some people ticked off and has created this attempted smear campaign.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:37 PM   #18
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I think I've seen an article or two there that may have been slightly biased towards the left (such as something directed against a liberal or Democrat being marked "False", when, after reading the evidence, I would put squarely in the "Undetermined" category). I'll see if I can find an example. But overall, I'd say Snopes is unbiased, useful, and often entertaining.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:40 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by GStan View Post
I consider myself to be undeniably right-leaning, and I love Snopes. I've been visiting their site for years and have never noticed any kind of liberal bias. I know you're looking for the opinion of well-known conservatives. Sorry, I'm working on it.

I'm actually very famous; but not very many people know it yet.*

*not plagiarizing, just can't remember where I heard that line.
Thanks for your help and opinoion, famous or not.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:41 PM   #20
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Barbara Mikkelson is a Canadian citizen and cannot register as a voter for either party in the U.S., nor can she contribute money to either party or campaigns.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:41 PM   #21
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I did think it was noteworthy that Snopes never updated their page on John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans after July 30, 2004 (the Swift Boat ads started in August of 2004). They also never touched Kerry's false claim that he took his Swift Boat into Cambodia.
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:45 PM   #22
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Ya they should definitely have added in a bit about anti-NAU turned birther dirtbag Jerome Corsi - a conservative bias perhaps??
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Old 24th November 2009, 01:51 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
Snopes has always come across as apolitical to me. I think the fact that Snopes has been shooting down the "ACLU to outlaw religion" and "Obama is evil" e-mails has some people ticked off and has created this attempted smear campaign.
"ACLU to outlaw religion" is a perfect example - it's one of the e-mails I used Snopes to debunk, after the aforementioned friend had sent it out to about 75 people.

As an independent and a skeptic, it just bugs me when these obviously "purpose-crafted" e-mails make the rounds and are accepted at face value by people eager for validation of their viewpoint.

I de-bunked one recently which purported to give advice on heart attack prevention. This e-maill included quotes and official looking images and "press releases" from Johns Hopkins University. Snopes pointed me toward a page on John Hopkins official web site, which took pains to distance itself from the e-mail.

I know I should just give up and let everyone believe whatever they want, but the e-mail mentioned above looked official and gave bad health advice.
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Old 24th November 2009, 02:03 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Praktik View Post
Ya they should definitely have added in a bit about anti-NAU turned birther dirtbag Jerome Corsi - a conservative bias perhaps??
Care to guess who was responsible for this story?

Former forum member Boloboffin and I collaborated on that one.

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Old 24th November 2009, 02:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by SonOfLaertes View Post
Exactly. That is why I'm searching for statements from somebody/some organization that the wing-nuts would have a hard time dismissing.

I'm hoping somebody remembers a source that would fit the bill.
The real wingnuts, probably the types behind this smear campaign, won't be convinced by anything or anyone that doesn't confirm their bias.
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Old 24th November 2009, 02:06 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by LibraryLady View Post
Barbara Mikkelson is a Canadian citizen and cannot register as a voter for either party in the U.S., nor can she contribute money to either party or campaigns.
EVIDENCE OF THE LIBERAL CONSPIRACY!!!11!

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Old 24th November 2009, 02:50 PM   #27
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I'm on the right and I've read many of Snopes articles over the years. I've sometimes seen a liberal perspective coming through in Barbara's articles but I've never seen it bias their conclusions.

I can't remember which articles, sorry.
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:07 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I did think it was noteworthy that Snopes never updated their page on John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans after July 30, 2004 (the Swift Boat ads started in August of 2004).
Pages on Snopes are normally in response to specific items that show up in our email or circulate as urban legends. Not claims that appear in political ads. Dig around on Snopes and you will find many other pages dealing with John Kerry.
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:11 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by gtc View Post
I'm on the right and I've read many of Snopes articles over the years. I've sometimes seen a liberal perspective coming through in Barbara's articles but I've never seen it bias their conclusions.

I can't remember which articles, sorry.
Understood. I've read through a number of politically based articles today, and I can see where someone might feel that Barbara has an understated liberal perpective; however it seems clear that there is no bias where firm conclusions have been drawn.

It's easy to find some right-wing forums where participants believe there's an anti-conservative bias to Snopes, but all of the arguments given so far have been week and biased in their own right(no pun intended).

Still can't find opinion from the "visible" right for or against Snopes. It occurs to me that this in and of itself answers my question. It would seem to me that if Snopes had a liberal agenda the Limbaughs of the world would be all over it.

That doesn't help me defend Snope's reputation to my chain-mail sending friends, unfotrtunately.
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:16 PM   #30
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The only bias Snopes has is toward ad revenue. I stopped visiting that site when I would get hit with at least 3 pop-ups, pop-unders and redirects on every page.

But on-topic, why do you care so much about proving this to your friends? They obviously won't believe it no matter who it comes from.
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:49 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Grimes View Post
The only bias Snopes has is toward ad revenue. I stopped visiting that site when I would get hit with at least 3 pop-ups, pop-unders and redirects on every page.

But on-topic, why do you care so much about proving this to your friends? They obviously won't believe it no matter who it comes from.
A). To cut down on the spread of chain-mail, as I hope that people would get in the habit of fact checking before spreading lies, rumors, and money-making schemes. Remember that many of these chain-mails are simply vehicles for the originator to collect valid e-mail addresses, to spam the collected recipients or to spread spyware. You would understand if you worked in IT.
Most of the chain-mail I get is from friends and co-workers.

Not to mention that this forum is in general committed to stopping the spread of lies, rumors and money-making schemes.

B). To save time in conversations where these e-mails are used as "facts" to support one contention or the other. This becomes annoying to the extreme when one hears the same misconceptions repeated ad infinitum.

C). My friends and I argue about various things. Its fun. If somebody brings up what they think is a good point, and I disagree with their conclusion, I attempt to refute it.

D). Snopes is a handy and time-saving tool to accomplish all of the above. If it's biased, I want to know that: I will stop relying on it. If it's generally fair-minded, I want to be able to prove that so that I can continue to use it.

My friends are reasonably intelligent people. If a conservative friend were shown a video with, say, Bill O'Reilly using Snopes as a reference source, I would have ammunition to refute some anti-Snopes rebuttals.
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:53 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Grimes View Post
The only bias Snopes has is toward ad revenue. I stopped visiting that site when I would get hit with at least 3 pop-ups, pop-unders and redirects on every page.
But on-topic, why do you care so much about proving this to your friends? They obviously won't believe it no matter who it comes from.
Off-topic, you need to upgrade your browser/settings/security. I've been browsing Snopes all day and have experienced none of the above. On-page ads, certainly, but I won't begrudge any site that right. [bolding mine]
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Old 24th November 2009, 03:54 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I did think it was noteworthy that Snopes never updated their page on John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans after July 30, 2004 (the Swift Boat ads started in August of 2004). They also never touched Kerry's false claim that he took his Swift Boat into Cambodia.
(1) The Cambodia issue isn't addressed one way or the other on this page and (2) the facts are ambiguous in any case.
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Old 24th November 2009, 04:31 PM   #34
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Old 24th November 2009, 04:55 PM   #35
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Is snopes politically biased?

Sure. Everyone is. The Mikkelsons go through great pains to keep any kind of opinion out of their articles without stating them as such, but they'll admit that bias always sneaks through. Complete objectivity, as it turns out, is not a part of the human condition.

However, they will also tell you that judging from the amount of hate-mail they get accusing them of so many different biases, they are probably doing something right. They can read one email accusing them of being Left Wing nutjobs and the very next one will accuse them of being Bush-loving warmongers.

They actually post the interesting and amusing emails they got on their forum. It's a fun read.
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Old 24th November 2009, 05:42 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by mortimer View Post
I think I've seen an article or two there that may have been slightly biased towards the left (such as something directed against a liberal or Democrat being marked "False", when, after reading the evidence, I would put squarely in the "Undetermined" category). I'll see if I can find an example. But overall, I'd say Snopes is unbiased, useful, and often entertaining.
I've seen something similar a time or two, where something that really is a subjective thing (or unknown) is referred to as either true or false. The only time I've seen those (maybe 2 or 3 times at most), they picked a point of view that struck me as sympathetic to liberal claims. That being said, 1) the vast majority of things I've seen on Snopes are nothing like that, and 2) I doubt very seriously that I've seen anything close to a representative sample of what is up on Snopes.
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Old 24th November 2009, 07:11 PM   #37
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I couldn't find any of the left-leaning pages I recall seeing at Snopes, so I withdraw that accusation. It's always been a valuable source to me for all things urban legend, and even if they do stray to the left on occasion, it's so minor as to not cause me any concern regarding their conclusions or research.
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Old 24th November 2009, 09:17 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Nice one, Zig. Wins thread
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Old 24th November 2009, 09:18 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Rogue1stclass View Post
However, they will also tell you that judging from the amount of hate-mail they get accusing them of so many different biases, they are probably doing something right. They can read one email accusing them of being Left Wing nutjobs and the very next one will accuse them of being Bush-loving warmongers.
Agreed, and well said
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Old 24th November 2009, 09:44 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
I'd thought it was common knowledge the Barbara Snopes is liberal. Something like contributions to the democratic party,
1) "Barbara Snopes" isn't her name. It's Barbara Mikkelson.
2) She's a Canadian citizen, how could she contribute to a US party?
3) It's also "common knowledge" that we only use 10% of our brains, that Ericsson is giving away free laptops, or that Cheese Whiz/margarine/American cheese/etc. is 1 molecule away from being plastic, etc. Thankfully, there's this site out there that verifies these "common knowledge" factoids... dunno if you heard of it?


[/quote]But every time I visit, I get a pop-under. So I keep my visits to the minimum.[/quote]
Pop-unders? That's so 2001. Learn how to internet.
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