When family disagreements start, who’s the best umpire? It may be fact-checking websites or apps that come to your rescue.
Even when families from ancient times gathered around the fire (probably inside their caves), it’s a safe bet that there were family arguments and disagreements. In those days, it might have been about the name of the person in the clan over in the next valley who developed a better mammoth killing ax. The problem then was, there were no reference materials to peruse for easy answers to resolving these conflicts. That’s not so today.
Now, almost every person carries a super-powerful computer on their person, almost 24 hours-a-day. For virtual infallibility in the family info wars, here are some tried and true online tools to help you out.
Family Tech Can Name That Tune
It seems to be a uniquely human dilemma: hearing a song and immediately wanting to identify it for either love or hate purposes. Some people (teens in particular) have an innate knack for tune ID; some cannot keep a beat or carry a tune, but still are curious.
The Shazam app isn’t new, but it’s the best option if you and your family are out and faced with a song title/artist argument. Simply let Shazam “listen” to the song, and it’ll usually instantly spit out what it is.
Another app, Soundhound, is similar to Shazam in terms of interface, but uses voice technology as well. You can “order” Soundhound verbally in front of your annoying teen to deliver the verdict on the song in question.
And for lyric disagreements (aka: when “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” becomes “the girl with colitis walks by”) try Musixmatch Lyrics, an app with a floating lyric display.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
In these confusing times of unreliable news sources, finding out the actual facts versus fiction is an ongoing challenge. And winning that challenge against obnoxious drunk Uncle Fred at the Thanksgiving table is a deep and compelling need.
What you require are just the facts. And not facts biased in favor of one political side or another, but the plain, unvarnished ones that used to be the currency of news organizations everywhere.
Politifact is a recommended fact-checker. Focusing on claims made by politicos in the US (because Uncle Fred doesn’t want to talk about the world at large), this site is non-partisan, a refreshing change in this polarized atmosphere. It assiduously checks statements made by politicians, political topics, and more universal news. Plus, there’s a global edition for when Brexit comes up. Politifact is a Pulitzer Prize-winning website and really has top-notch journalistic cred.
Another decent fact-checking source is Snopes. It has a media bias rating of “center,” which is about as unbiased as you’re going to get these days. While it’s associated with Facebook, which makes some suspicious, you can probably suspend your paranoia; Snopes is a trusted source in the fact-checking community.
Fact-Checking for Kids
While Snopes and Politifact are just fine for teens, they might be a bit much for younger kids. Luckily, there’s a good app for your younger ones so they can be proven right on occasion, too. Called Open Secrets, this site is all about the labyrinthine world of political spending, which is ideal for your future econ major.
Reviewed by Common Sense Media, the site gets an educational A+, with a caveat:
“Parents need to know that OpenSecrets.org is an informative site that offers a nonpartisan look at political spending. Users can discover everything from funding of previous political campaigns to a politician’s finances and tax returns,” reports Common Sense Media. “For the most part, the content is kid-friendly, but users can post seemingly unmoderated comments that appear live instantly, so there’s a chance kids could come across argumentative conversations or inappropriate language.”
Who’s That Character Actor in the Corner?
There’s nothing more stimulating than a good dose of confusion over an actor’s identity; it can either enrich a crappy movie, or ruin a classic good evening of cinema. The go-to site for these film buff dilemmas is IMDb, the leading site for film info. It has a lot of power and reach, but that’s also its downside.
Make Use Of offers up an alternative: The Movie Database (TMDb). Here’s why (per the site):
“TMDb is an initialism that is almost similar to its more bigger counterpart: IMDb. Both are massive indexes for movie and television information, but The Movie Database differs from the Internet Movie Database in one key aspect: TMDb is completely powered by its community.”
IMDb is owned and operated by the behemoth called Amazon, which isn’t a massive point against the site. But having a viable alternative to Amazon is always handy and worth keeping in mind.
With Knowledge Is Power… if Properly USed
Remember: no one likes a know-it-all, and fact-checking websites can become annoying when used all the time. Save these tools to shut down drama, enrich your family’s mealtimes, or just for genuine fun (it’s a lot cleaner than food fights).
Then again, the holidays are coming. And nothing satisfies more than a good domestic argument won.