Transcript: Using the SIFT method presentation

SIFT – Stop

Dealing with information that you find online is a lot like dealing with a potential emergency situation. We always say to stop and assess the danger first, and that’s similar to the stop of SIFT: before you even read the article, stop and have a look at where it comes from. If you recognise the source as trustworthy, you might feel comfortable going ahead and reading it.

Your article, titled ‘Many cases of “dementia” are actually side effects of prescription drugs or vaccines, according to research’, is from a website called The Common Sense Show. I’m not familiar with this website and the trustworthiness of its articles, so that’s my clue to move to the next step of SIFT.


SIFT – Investigate

To investigate the source, I use a little trick a librarian taught me—I look up the website on Wikipedia. This gives me some general knowledge about the site and the organisation that created it.

When I search for The Common Sense Show on Wikipedia, I get a result for Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN), a producer of radio shows based in the United States.

Wikipedia says that RBN has “loose ties” to a radical right-wing newspaper and that one of their former hosts was connected to an anti-government group. It seems like an organisation with a strong agenda, which means they could be biased, but I’m not certain that makes the article untrustworthy.

Wikimedia Foundation (2022) Republic Broadcasting Network, Wikipedia website, accessed 17 May 2023.


SIFT – Find

At this point, I’ll usually read the article to try and understand its claims, even though I know the information might not be reliable. Then, I try to find better coverage. If other trustworthy news sources are sharing the same information, I’ll be more inclined to believe what I’ve read.

With your article, this is where it gets interesting. A quick web search shows me that this article was reposted from another website called Natural News. According to Wikipedia, Natural News is classified as a “fake news website”. Not only that, but a reliable fact-checking website called Health Feedback has analysed this article already and found it to be “not credible and potentially harmful”.


Teoh F (28 Jan 2019) ‘The most popular health articles of 2018, a scientific credibility review’, Health Feedback, accessed 17 May 2023.

Wikimedia Foundation (2023) Natural news, Wikipedia website, accessed 17 May 2023.


SIFT – Trace

The fact-checking website has made it easy for us to decide the article is unreliable, but if we still weren’t certain, we could go to the final step of SIFT and trace claims, quotes, and media back to their original context.

For your article, that would mean looking at the studies that are cited and seeing if any of the information has been taken out of context and twisted to mean something different than what the researchers intended.

The Health Feedback analysis of the article has already looked at the original context of the claims the article makes, and noted that the legitimate sources cited by the article are used “in a manner that draws erroneous conclusions meant to mislead the reader”.

Like the analysts from Health Feedback, I think we can safely say this article cannot be trusted!


Teoh F (28 Jan 2019) ‘The most popular health articles of 2018, a scientific credibility review’, Health Feedback, accessed 17 May 2023.


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