|A wave of assertions comes at you every day. |
Which are correct? Which ones do you check? How do you check?
LNU Lightning Complex: 375,209
SCU Lightning Complex: 396,624
Creek Fire: 152,833
CZU Lightning Complex: 86,509
W-5 Cold Springs: 74,819
375,209 + 396,624 + 152,833 + 86,509 + 74,819 = 1,085,994
And that's just the top 5 fires in the state, and none of them are contained. There are 58 fires listed on that page--so this implausible / outrageous number is in fact a low estimate. The reality is much higher and we're still a couple of months away from the end of fire season.
But you see my point: the number sounded too large to be true, but a quick estimate of what 1M acres looks like suggests that it's not an implausible number. Doing a quick search to get some data from a reliable source tells me that it's way low. The reality is, by the end of the year, going to be more like 2M acres of California consumed by wildfire.
In this case my fact-check strategy was to find a reliable source of data (the SF Chronicle Fire Map, which collects data directly from satellite data). In their methodology section (which they actually included in the article--hurrah!), the fire perimeters are based on infrared and thermal imaging from NASA's MODIS and VIIRS-I data products.
This isn't a complex fact-check, but it shows my key point.
But now I'm curious about your behavior. What do YOU do to fact-check things you see and hear?
Let us know by posting in the comments.