Fake or Real? An Analysis


Write a blog post on your own blog reflecting on this experience. How effective were the strategies you used to determine whether the photos, reviews, and quotes were real or fake? How might the strategies you learned in the answers blog post help you in your personal and/or professional life? How might you share these strategies with your current and/or future learners?

I studied the situations brought up in the blog post by Dan Russell. Remarkably I came up with results that were close… in most cases.

Background Knowledge

A fighter aircraft flying low over New York City.

SOURCE: http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/2015/11/search-challenge-111115-fake-or-real.html

I used my training in the physical sciences to great effect when analyzing the photograph. I very readily picked out the photograph as a fake. It seemed to me early on that the lighting was very wrong. My background in physical science led me immediately look at angles, lighting, etc. and I noticed the problems with the lighting. Using background knowledge seems like a very good tool. As mentioned in the answers, it was also important to not focus on the obvious part of the photograph alone but to take it all in. If you fixate on just the aircraft, you miss the lighting in the rest of the photograph including its color.

I also used my background knowledge as a basis for the quotes. For instance, I used the fact that I know that Jefferson was a scientist and it seemed very likely to me that he would write or speak about scientific discoveries that was consistent with that time period (quote 2). The time period is all wrong for quote 3. Putting gun in the hands of law-abiding citizen and out of the hands of criminals was not a discussion during Jefferson’s time. Guns we predominantly in the hands of hunters and the militia so I easily guessed this was a fake. Knowing a bit about the personality of Jefferson helped with quote 1. Jefferson was an introvert. He was not big on “acting” anything. As such, he never would have said quote 1.

Reviews Problem

A checkbox review document and pen.

SOURCE: http://www.georgesintl.com/hotel-review-websites-reliable/

The hotel reviews gave me problems. I didn’t research those quotes so I simply relied on the wording. The second seemed more real to me. It was a simple expression of what someone experienced at the hotel. To me, the first review seemed fake since it goes far into describing details of the hotel that would be in a brochure. My feeling was that it was written by someone who worked at the hotel. I failed to actually look up these reviews and look into the authors as it stated in the answers post.


I think the overall take away is that using our background knowledge can help a lot in picking fake items out of a lineup. However, we must utilize the digital tools at our disposal so that we don’t get fooled. Clearly my background did not give me any insight into the hotel review and so my analysis was flawed. It is important for everyone to keep in mind what they know and look up what they don’t know.

These types of concepts come up from time to time in chemistry where a students understanding of the world is actually wrong. By physically showing the students what they don’t expect I jar them out of their “box” and get them thinking about the world in a new way.

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