Evaluating Sources – History 101

In the light of recent events in Woolwich, as in the Boston bombings there have been many claims and counter claims of falsification, false flag ops, media manipulation and conspiracies.

So how do we process all of this information and come to our own conclusions of what we believe to be fact, and what we believe is fiction?

I feel we need to take a step back and go back to basics. Forget all this high tech mumbo jumbo that most of us are not qualified to comment on and don’t fully understand, as people who do understand it are just as easily able to manipulate us as anyone else.

Let’s look at History 101, evaluating sources as in the UK, contrary to popular opinion, our education system does actually teach us to think.

Some sources are more useful than others.

When reading/viewing a story, do we always believe what we read or see?

Obviously we shouldn’t. We make judgements on the reliability of the sources, in the same manner that we make judgements when told things by individuals in every day conversation.

For example:

Some people will have a hidden agenda,

Some people will be giving evidence for a specific reason,

Some people will leave out crucial pieces of information,

Some people will be repeating the words of others.

When studying history, newspaper articles and news broadcasts need to be examined using the same stringent methods as any other source. The official version of events is never beyond reproach, or above judgement.

We judge using simple analysis;

Purpose – why? what is the intent behind the piece of information.

Limitations – what? does it not tell you? What is missing? What would you like to know that is not apparent?

Author  – who?  made it, and what is their expertise, or involvement in event? what are the implications of this.

Content – what? Does it tell you

Type – Primary or secondary?


Is it informational, fictional, is it to attract people to a page or site, get more you tube hits? Is it to report an officially recognised and sanctioned version of events? Is it to propogate a particular ideaology? What are the authors motives? What was the intent behind it?


Could it have bias? Could it have information which is missed out, deliberately or otherwise? If it is a secondary source does it take in to account all of the primary information?


Who wrote it? Who produced it? what is their history of accurate reporting? Do they support a particular view or ideology? Are they free to speak?


What does it tell us? what new information do we learn from it?


Eye witness account, at the time or after?

Other considerations

– Intended audience, why are they telling who they are telling? who is it aimed at and how would that effect it?

 – Tone, threatening, persuasive, conciliatory

 – Action Does the source motivate action? why? Who benefits? what action?

I hope the above will be helpful when determining what to believe. It is a reminder for us all, firstly myself. Don’t believe a clip saying something is doctored if you dont know anything about film making, the same way you wouldn’t accept the official version without research.

May Allah guide us all to truth.


Posted on 24/05/2013, in media, politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A tool I’ve found that helps, is to get as many sources as possible with (as odd as this sounds) contradictory goals and viewpoints. Want to know what’s REALLY going on in the Falklands/Malvinas? Read both the British AND Argentinian news sites. When they agree, that’s as close to the truth as you’ll get in the press. And for those folk like me, with an attraction (obsession?) to military topics, there are numerous free Email newsletters out of various government and military-oriented businesses out there. If the US Department of Defence, and Lockheed, AND Aviation Week report on some new feature of a plane, it’s there – if only Lockheed and the DOD talk about it, activate your BS filter.
    One intriguingly good source for breaking news is the Buenos Aires Herald (www.buenosairesherald.com). It comes in English as well as Spanish, and though it has some bias towards pro-Argentinian topics, it does report on things that the government would prefer it not do.
    If you need any particular source on something, give me a holler.

    • Thank you for that! It is very useful!

      Have you seen what happened in London Woolwich on Thursday? and have you seen the conspiracy videos? What is your take on all of it?

      • Conspiracies? Foreign operations? Bollocks, I believe is the phrase. All the news I’ve seen or read doesn’t suggest any nations outside the UK having ANY input. From what I can tell, this truly despicable act is simply two individuals acting out in the name of extremism – a lot like the two Dagestan-born “Boston bombers” here in the States. I was VERY pleased to see an important leader of the UK Muslim community on the BBC not only stating that the two perpetrators did not represent mainstream Muslims, but also that what they did was an offence to – I’ll say “your name for God”, I don’t know if it’s okay for a non-Muslim to write the name and I don’t want to cause insult.
        I know we here in the West have caused a great deal of misery and harm to the Muslim world. I understand it can, and has, caused a LOT of bad feelings. But this act was, in my opinion, just a cowardly murder. My apologies if that causes offence, but that is my take.
        Can you still be friends with an opinionated, crotchety old fool? 😉

  2. lol you can say Allah,

    I don’t think they should have came out and made the statement, Anyone who thinks Muslims need to distance themselves from any murders are revealing their underlying prejudices and an “us and them” attitude. A brutal murder occured. Our whole community is in shock. Muslims are part of the community and British society, to say they need to speak out is viewing them as separate, they somehow think differently, or feel differently from the “rest of us”. We need to stop being so apologetic about being Muslims.

    “Blogging for HuffPost UK, the incoming vice president of academic affairs at KCL, wrote: “I disagree with [the Muslim Council of Britain] reaffirming the need to distance Islam’s true teachings from the individual who attacked the soldier.

    Because frankly, Muslims do not need to have to reaffirm and clarify their faith in a way that creates the perception of them being inferior from British society.”

    • I can see the point both ways. Our far-right Republicans (the infamous “Tea Party”) and your BNP (and to a lesser extent, the UKIP) will ALWAYS try to tie any action by a person claiming to be Muslim to the entire Muslim community – so while it still fosters an “us against them”, it does shut the far right idiots up, which is VERY nice. (Getting ANY break from the ramblings of Fox News is a treat! 😀 ) On the other hand, no group should be tarred by the misdeeds of a single member – yet we’re always ready to do so for “outsiders” to our Western Euro-centric Judeo-Christian “standard”. It always annoys me that when one of our far-right Catholic priests shoots of his mouth, it takes quite a while (if ever) for a representative of the overall Catholic church to distance themselves. (Then again, at least in my book, the Catholic church has a HECK of a lot to apologise for!)
      I just wonder what has happened to the old “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”. Always seemed like good advice to me, but then again, I’m kinda looney that way….. 😉

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