Verified – Book Summary

9. Stealth Advertising: When Ads Masquerade as News

  • The trick here is to make ads look like legitimate news stories. While you may have an ad blocker to prevent ads from showing up, you don’t have a fake news story blocker. Studies also show that most people can’t spot these fake new stories. Most legitimate news providers engage in this common ruse just to increase ad revenue. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The BBC for example, have all decided that this devil is a legitimate business partner. Company logos are easier to miss when they are in plan sight at the top of an article next to the large Masthead.

10. Once More With Feeling: Using Your Emotions to Find the Truth

  • Feelings can make us do stupid things. If you are feeling the pull of emotions, the best thing to do is to slow down and let your rational brain into the decision-making process. Something that is interesting is likely to provoke emotions. Surprise is an indication that your assumption might be wrong. Emotions can get in the way of accurate evaluations. In this case, consider stepping back and starting over.

11. Conclusion: Critical Ignoring

  • Attention is a precious resource yet many people do what they can to waste it. In addition to being critical thinkers, we need to be critical ignorers. You only have so much attention so conserve it like someone would conserve energy in a race.

12. Postscript: Large Language Models, CHATGpt, and the Future of Verification

  • While AI apps may have their uses, you need to verify their results using the advice from this book. This can take longer than doing your own research and writing as you know where you found the information to support your claims. These programs scour the Internet where there is a lot of false information, so don’t be surprised if your results contain some weird errors. There may be times when you are better off skipping traditional search and using an AI app. The results can be less dense than Wikipedia and more informative than a web snippet.

Mike Caulfield & Sam Wineburg

  • Mike is currently a research scientist leading the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public’s rapid response efforts. He has worked with various organizations on digital literacy initiatives to combat mis- and disinformation, including The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, The American Democracy Project, The National Writing Project, and CIVIX Canada. He is an awardee of the Rita Allen/RTI Misinformation Solutions Prize and the author of an award-winning open textbook, Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter(X) @holden.
  • Sam is the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and History & American Studies at Stanford University. Educated at Brown and Berkeley, he holds a doctorate in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford and an honorary doctorate from Sweden’s Umeå University. Wineburg heads the Stanford History Education Group (, whose curriculum and assessments have been downloaded nearly ten million times, making it one of the largest providers of free curriculum in the world. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter(X) @samwineburg.
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