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Contents

For the Impatient

"SUS" - acronym for Statement Under Scrutiny - but can also mean "suspect" depending on the context. Another one: "this page has been thoroughly sussed-out... checks good." "SUS" is both singular and plural, e.g., "I created a new SUS today," and, "Wow, look at all the SUS."

Don't surf without protection! The Fact Checker extension is very simple and the best thing to do is to just install it now and wait for it to notify you of SUS found on any page on the Internet. The extension does not scan page text in order to notify you of identified SUS (except for the manual SUS check feature). It only watches for SUS links stored on this wiki. All links are stored in a compressed file called the "MicroDB" by the browser. It can hold literally millions of links in ~ 2 MB cache held in memory which is easy for any computer nowadays (the future is here). This also means that there is no need for the extension to contact the SUS server unless it already knows ahead of time that there is SUS to fetch. Watch for the colored endnote indicators following statements in the text and also pay attention to the Fact Checker button on the toolbar. If you don't see it on Firefox, Right-Click toolbar->Customize to add it. And also please help get this new awesome project going by adding SUS to this wiki that the Fact Checker can use. You can start adding SUS through the shortcut menu (Right-Click on highlighted text). The extension stores only one to two files; the MicroDB and a debug log for testing and which is off by default. So, unless you are a developer or tester, there will be no browsing history saved. But, if you are a developer/tester and logging is enabled, the log is deleted when the browser history is deleted (Chrome users: delete All History). It is a small log file that is not sent to the server. The extension also does not use cookies so, using the extension is actually safer from a privacy standpoint than your browser.

You may want to check-out the Fact Checker Quick Start.

If you want to be an expert fact checker, then continue reading and welcome to the CiteEvidence Fact Checker community!


Introduction

The CiteEvidence evidence citation signaling system (say that three times real fast!) is an adaptation of the legal citation signals used in legal arguments to their use for citing evidence on the World Wide Web. This system is applicable to all areas of non-fiction reporting and documentation of real world facts. Unlike those citations found in legal arguments which are put in place by their author(s), these evidence citations are donated by the world Internet community using a wiki crowd-sourcing model. Anyone can create citations referencing evidence that either supports or contradicts any given assertion in any published non-fiction document that aims to present factual information for mass consumption. This system is particularly useful for documents published on the Web with the aid of a web browser extension that dynamically displays these semantic links between document fragments. These links form a second higher semantic layer of public Internet hyperlinks whose endpoints are attached to data patterns rather than addresses of whole documents.

Once a Statement Under Scrutiny (SUS) has been annotated with evidence, that statement is recognized by the browser extension wherever it is encountered on the Internet; e.g., a news article containing a SUS with citations may be republished or mirrored at multiple locations on the Internet but, nevertheless, the SUS and its citations will still be recognized and displayed to the user.

Our signals provide connections to very obvious and easily verifiable supporting or contradicting facts related to claims made in non-fiction publications, such as news articles, technical docs, non-personal blogs, etc.. This makes researching a topic much easier whether it be a news topic, a legal or technical issue or almost anything else.

CiteEvidence citation signals employ signals with the same or similar names and analogous meaning as those commonly used in a legal argument setting, so they are intuitive and a cinch to learn![1] CiteEvidence also adds one new must-have signal. But, before we get there, let's see what citation signals are and where they originate.

Tip: Always keep in mind that this site is primarily concerned with doing just one simple thing; citing evidence for easy reference. All other concerns, such as how to use the free-text section are secondary. The free-text section at the bottom of the SUS edit form can be used for any other thing, such as discussing the legitimacy one of the CSEs on the page, or the relevancy of a CSE to a SUS if there is a controversy. The SUS page's Talk Page should be used for more conversational-style posts about the page; the way it's done on most MediaWiki-based sites.


Generally speaking, there are three kinds of evidence citations you can create:

Citations for Contradiction

Given the two pieces of evidence, A and B, a contradictory citation implies,

"Evidence A and evidence B are conflicting. Both cannot be true."

Contradiction citations are used to point out factual errors by referring to another apparent contradictory piece of evidence presented in another (or even the same) published work. In the case of a statement made in a news article with a contradicting citation that references an assertion of another news article, this could indicate an inaccuracy in reporting, a misquote, contradicting witness statements, or even a non-obvious typographical error that throws the assertion's meaning into question. Determining which of the opposing statements is the correct one, if any, is the task of the reader.


Citations for Support

Implies,

"Statement A is correct and supported by statement B."

Supporting citations are the opposite of conflicting citations but similar to regular supporting references used in any encyclopedia, report, research paper, etc.. They are used to support or "back-up" a claim. A CiteEvidence supporting citation extends the concept of a regular supporting reference in that it also includes a quote of the specific supporting statement itself that the creator of the citation is referring to. For example, an article that quotes a statement made by a third party may receive a supporting annotation that links to the original source of quoted statement, such as in the transcript of an interview or broadcast. Or, a generalized legal claim can be cited with a reference to the actual law text that supports or contradicts that claim. Just about any claim or assertion of any kind may receive a supporting citation.


Other Kinds of Citations

There is one more signal we've created as a sort-of "escape key" that's used to indicate that a statement is either irrelevant, insignificant, moot, or simply misses the point. This is the powerful But consider signal.

The comparision of the CiteEvidence evidential citation signals to the commonly adopted legal citation signals is shown in the table below:


Comparison of CiteEvidence (evidential) Signals to Blue Book (argumentative) Signals
Evidence signals Interpretation Legal signals Interpretation[1,2]
According to Indicates that the evidence directly supports the assertion. Generally, there is no inferential step required between the evidence cited and the assertion it supports. [no signal] The cited authority directly states the proposition or identifies a quotation or authority with which the citation is associated
See Indicates that the evidence indirectly supports the assertion. Generally, there is an inferential step between the evidence cited and the claim it supports. See Indicates that the cited authority does not directly state, but clearly supports the proposition with which the citation is associated either implicitly or in the form of dicta. There is an inferential step between the authority cited and the proposition it supports.
Contra Signals that the cited evidence directly contradicts the assertion; directly states the contrary. Contra Authority directly states the contrary of the proposition with which the citation is associated
But see Cited evidence indirectly contradicts the assertion. Generally, there is an inferential step between the evidence cited and the claim it supports. But see Cited authority either contradicts the stated proposition implicitly or contains dicta that contradict the stated proposition.
But consider Indicates the cited evidence has some bearing on the overall issue that makes the assertion's trueness or falseness either irrelevant, misleading, moot, or relatively insignificant compared to another fact that this citation introduces. No equivalent N/A

Refs, 1. Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2012) by Peter W. Martin 2. Citation signal, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Citation_signal&oldid=540093527 (last visited Mar. 28, 2013).

The difference between the legal signals and the evidence signals is that legal signals are used when making logical arguments, whereas evidential signals simply point to artifacts of evidence. Those artifacts may come in various multimedia formats, such as text documents, video testimony, photos and scanned images, binary files, etc..


Some Important Definitions

proposition n.

1. Logic
1. A statement that affirms or denies something.*
2. Philosophy
1. The content of a sentence that affirms or denies something and is capable of being true or false.†
* The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
† Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged

inference n.

1.
a. The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.
b. The act of reasoning from factual knowledge or evidence.

Ref: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

indirect evidence n.

Circumstantial evidence.

Ref: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

circumstantial evidence n.

1. proof of facts offered as evidence from which other facts are to be inferred.
Ref: Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary
2. indirect evidence that tends to establish a conclusion by inference
Ref: Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged

From Wikipedia:

“Circumstantial evidence is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact, like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime.”

Ref: Circumstantial evidence, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Circumstantial_evidence&oldid=543774539 (last visited Mar. 27, 2013).

direct evidence n.

1. Evidence that directly proves a fact, without an inference or presumption, and which in itself, if true, conclusively establishes that fact.

Ref: West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2.

2. Real, tangible, or clear evidence of a fact, happening, or thing that requires no thinking or consideration to prove its existence, as compared to circumstantial evidence.

Ref: Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill


All CiteEvidence Signals

Click on each signal for further help on that signal .

Strength of Evidence Support Signals Contradiction Signals
Strongest
  • According to - direct evidence that supports the assertion (Statement Under Scrutiny).
    • Trumps indirect evidence signaled by But see
    • Competes equally against Contra
    • Implies indirect evidence signaled by See is unnecessary
  • Contra - direct evidence to the contrary.
    • The SUS and the evidence cannot both be true
    • Trumps indirect evidence signaled by See
    • Competes equally against According to
    • Implies indirect evidence signaled by But see is unnecessary
Relatively weak
  • See - indirect evidence that supports the SUS.
    • Competes equally with But see
  • But see - indirect evidence that is contrary to the SUS
    • Competes equally with See
"Escape" Signals
N/A
  • But consider - neither supporting nor contradicting the SUS, this signal is in a class of its own
    • Points to other related evidence that makes the SUS either irrelevant or of little significance
    • Not a "catch-all" signal. A parenthetical explanation is required to show how the cited makes the SUS irrelevant, insignificant, or moot


Together, the above signals cover the majority of responses used in everyday arguments, such as:

"That's true because ..."
"That's not true because ..."
"That's irrelevant/beside the point/misleading because ..."

The determination of truth and relevance of a premise is required before any reasoning can begin.


Examples

Acronyms

  • SUS - Statement Under Scrutiny
  • CSE - Comparative Statement of Evidence


According to

The SUS:

“The HOA covenant will not allow Marge Hendrix to paint her house in the pea-green color that she wants.”

The CSE:

According to “The only shade of green that is approved for the exterior is Forest Green (Duron #03973)”

Since the HOA is presumed to be legally chartered, and the cited quote is directly from said HOA, then there is no intervening assumptions necessary to conclud that the SUS is true and accurate. In other words, the CSE is straight from the "horse's mouth" and is the final word and there is no other evidence needed to support the claim (SUS). The CSE cites direct evidence and warrants the use of the According to signal.


The SUS:

“The SeaRaptor 3.5" hard drive has the fastest access time on the market.”

The CSE:

According to “Access Time: 20 µsecs”

The first assertion is directly evidenced by an entry in a products comparison article.


The SUS:

“Owners of dangerous exotic animals in California have to allow inspections of the animal's habitat at any time by state authorities.”

The CSE:

According to “An owner of a dangerous wild animal, at all reasonable times, shall allow the animal registration agency, its staff, its agents, or a designated licensed veterinarian to enter the premises where the animal is kept and to inspect the animal, the primary enclosure for the animal, and the owner's records relating to the animal to ensure compliance with this subchapter.”

The first statement is directly backed-up by the actual text of the law.



See

The SUS:

“John Smith took part in the steakhouse robbery”

The CSE:

See “on the night of the robbery, I saw Johnnie running away from the restaurant”

Absent any other supporting evidence, several assumptions must be made in order to logically conclude that the SUS is true (that Johnnie indeed robbed the steakhouse):

  1. Johnnie was not at the restaurant for dinner
  2. There is no other reason for Johnnie to be running from the restaurant at the time of the robbery
  3. The running took place in very close proximity to the time of the robbery
  4. Johnnie is somehow associated with the known robbers of the steakhouse


All of these assumptions (and perhaps more) are necessary in order to conclude that the SUS is true and, therefore, make this single citation amount to indirect (circumstantial) evidence which, by itself, does not substantiate the SUS and does not qualify for the stronger According to signal.



Contra

The SUS:

“If the housing tends to leak, a less restrictive filter must be used in place of the stock filter. ”

The CSE:

Contra “A leak in the housing can be remedied by either replacing the filter with a less restrictive filter or by reducing the input pressure by turning the pitot flow control screw in a clockwise direction. ”

The first statement asserts that something is true without exception while the second statement asserts an important alternative.


The SUS:

“The current recommendation is to limit the depth and rate of ventilations in the adult to no more than 20 breaths per minute to avoid hyperventilation.”

The CSE:

Contra “Patients should be maintained with normal breathing rates (ETCO2 35–40 mmHg), and hyperventilation (ETCO2 < 35 mmHg) should be avoided unless the patient shows signs of cerebral herniation.”

The first statement asserts that something is true without exception while the second statement asserts an critical exception to the rule.


The SUS:

“All of the mice that received the solution perished.”

The CSE:

Contra “The entire population of mice died, save for the few that received a solution without the closantel additive.”

The first statement, if not flatly contradictory, leaves out what may be important exception to the results.



But see

The SUS:

“Wes Welker and the Patriots are closing in on a multi-year contract that would allow Welker to remain in New England. An NFL source says that the two sides are hoping to have something finalized before the onset of free agency on March 12.”

The CSE:

But see “New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has no plans to re-sign with the team before first testing the free-agent market next week, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.”

The second statement asserts indirect evidence that the first assertion - that Welker will re-sign with the Patriots - may be false.


The SUS:

“The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of the benefits and harms of combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures in premenopausal women or in men”

The CSE:

But see “Though based primarily on a subset analysis, long-term use of calcium and vitamin D appears to confer a reduction that may be substantial in the risk of hip fracture among postmenopausal women. Other health benefits and risks of supplementation at doses considered, including an elevation in urinary tract stone formation, appear to be modest and approximately balanced.”

Both statements are based on indirect evidence and they both contradict one another.



But consider

The SUS:

“Zepherall has passed the required drug safety tests.”

The CSE:

But consider “Zepherall was approved in 1987 before the new and more stringent safety standards were put into place.” (Those studies were conducted many years ago with different standards.)

The first statement may be factually correct, but may also be misleading if the article does not include other pertinent facts. A short explanation as to the relevance of the evidence and how it makes the SUS either irrelevant, relatively insignificant, moot, or missing the point, is required for all But consider citations.



What Evidence Signals Cannot Do

Evidence signals are not suitable for critiquing someone's reasoning process. That is a far more complex mental task that is best handled by actual brains. However, these signals do help ease the work involved in locating all known supporting and contradictory evidence allowing one to get a more definite and clearer understanding of a situation or subject. And evidence signals are also not suitable for comparing opinions since an opinion is not evidence. CSEs that point to a SUS that is only an opinion, however expert the source, should be removed and the "opinionated" SUS page should be deleted or flagged if there is a Flag button available.

What to Critique

Do Critique

There are no restrictions on what kinds of work can be critiqued other than it must be a non-fiction serious work presumably with the intention of disseminating factual information about the present or past. So, this includes:

  • News reports (excluding parody news, of course)
  • All business publications, including company blogs
  • Professional blogs
  • All Government publications
  • Technical manuals, guides, instruction manuals, tutorials
  • Textbooks (in as much as the subject matter is fact-based and capable of being backed or refuted with evidence)
  • Research papers, dissertations
  • Any other published work, online or off, that has a clear intent to disseminate factual statements about the physical world and its history

Do NOT Critique

Some insusceptable works and expressions are...

  • Works of fiction - of course not; all fiction work is completely exempt from being SUS'd.
  • Personal blogs, personal pages, etc.. - personal musings shouldn't be held to such high reporting standards and professionalism; which is probably a good thing.
    • Exception - when the writer is reporting first-hand information or is an expert in the field to which his/her assertion is based.
    • Note: CiteEvidence recognizes that literal text of a SUS anywhere it may be present on the Internet. So, if a personal blog or page just happens to have re-posted a news article, say, that contains a known SUS, it will be recognized and receive a citation indicator when viewing the blog with the browser extension (or online scanner).
  • Trivial assertions of no real importance, expressions, figures of speech not meant to be taken literally, etc.. Do not use CiteEvidence to define terms or as an encyclopedia.


A Note about news agencies that in-place update their news stories

This practice is a new one, thanks to the Internet, and should be discouraged. In-place updates and corrections are those that are made by editing the original article and replacing the old literal text with new text rather than printing the correction or update in a separate article or a separate section within the same article. The press produces much of the historical record that is referenced for as long as civilization allows. Allowing in-place updates to news articles introduces volatility into the worldwide knowledge record. Even though the Internet has allowed for the ease of updating articles to correct information, the traditional method of printing a separate correction or update and leaving the original text preserved is necessary to stabilize and preserve the historical record and society's confidence to distinguish fact from fiction given that the available information is reliable and "referenceable" in its original form. Knowing when and where information originates is of paramount importance for historians as well as for the informed general public of a sophisticated democratic society.

Therefore, in-place updates/corrections of news articles, as well as some other important documents from official sources, is not considered proper in our opinion.


Notes on Citing the Best Evidence

Only cite statements from reliable sources. Sources given the benefit of the doubt and are assumed to be reliable unless there is evidence to the contrary, such as public evidence of knowingly publishing or reporting false, erroneous, or inaccurate information in the past. Also, a source can be considered unreliable due to an overall poor performance of publishing or reporting false, erroneous, or inaccurate information.

Opinions should never be cited. Opinions are like... you know the line.

When the strength of evidence is dependent on the level of authority that produces the evidence, if the evidence comes from the ultimate authority, use According to for support or Contra for contradiction. For lesser authorities, use See and But see.

While citations can be added for just about anything, the purpose is not to cite anything and everything, but only those assertions that others may reasonably care about proving or disproving.

**Do not cite evidence of a lesser form than that already cited by the author. In other words, do not undermine the author's integrity. The evidence presented in the document should be included before any other evidence (CSE's) can be created if documented evidence pertains to the SUS.


Reasons CSEs Can be Removed

  • Relevance Not Apparent - the relevance to the SUS is not obvious.
    • Except for the But see signal, all other signals do not provide a description or comment area specifically for explaining why or how the CSE is relevant or the intention behind its creator. This is for a very good reason. The CSE statements - the evidence - should stand on its own and need no explanation. If it is not reasonably obvious what the evidence implies regarding the SUS, then the evidence is probably irrelevant or should be applied to another statement.
  • Clarified Elsewhere - for conflicting citations, when the apparent conflict is resolved by statements made nearby within the same article.
  • Spam - if it looks like spam and it smells like spam, it's probably spam.
  • Useless - a citation that is contrary to the spirit of CiteEvidence's goal which is to make fact discovery an easier and more comprehensive process.
  • Trivial - do not use this system to correct obvious typos that do not have an impact on the understanding of an assertion. However, some typo's are not so obvious and if a verified typo causes reasonable confusion and it has an important impact on the meaning of the assertion, then a Contra citation is warranted. The best way to tell if a typo is non-trivial is if the author of the statement goes as far as to print a correction to settle a controversy. In that case, the correction should be cited with a Contra CSE that points to the correction.
  • Taken out of context - the CSE implies another context or another meaning than what the author intends. If a CSE is obviously taking the SUS out of context, don't be shy, remove it!


We realize that there are always exceptions to every rule and our admins will try to provide guidance to the community to settle disputes and only step-in on, hopefully, rare occasions.