To make the internet a more fact based place sounds crazy big (to us as well) and at first sight seems to be in denial of much of the scientific research since Bonhoeffer, showing that people can't be convinced with facts alone (to say the least). But we believe to have found something we call a firewall against fakes, which works without censorship or monopolisation of truth. Here are some answers to common objections.
There are a lot of facts available but it’s often hard to distinguish them from sloppy work and opinions. Our interviews with scientists, journalists and potential users alike show one thing over and over again: source research is a lot of work. Even scientists trained to evaluate sources need a lot of time and skills to check the rigidity of every study quoted. Good journalists put massive efforts into checking their sources. Almost no one regardless of their background checks a quoted source when reading a blogpost or a news publication - even if the sources are linked (which they are often not). It’s an incredible huge amount of information available to all of us. Let's not force everyone to check the credibility of a source over and over again but use modern technology and knowledge to transparently link the factual basis behind claims.
Not a question but we hear that a lot. First: We don’t aim to change anyone's mind. The Source Engine shall transparently show which claim is supported by what evidence. Second: Most approaches against conspiracy stories have little effect as far as we are aware (let us know of any other insight). What we are creating is a tool to protect society with knowledge, not by dumbing things down or censoring democratic deliberation. Third: The Source Engine gives the factual foundation through a faster source research. We want to enable everyone who wants to rely on scientific insights but doesn't has the time to review every single source.
Anyone in IT-security can tell that a system is never completely safe from attacks. We focus on minimizing and answering these attacks by creating an architecture which is prepared. Public access to most code (Open Source) allows other programmers to verify our as unbiased as possible approach. Critical algorithms will be part of an independent (community approved) review team, to protect them from exploitations like Googles (former) page rank. We aim to store as little private information as needed to run the service safely while delivering value.
We certainly don’t want to limit minority opinions. Even the most absurd opinion should have the chance to be heard, as long as the expertise has a solid foundation. After all, new scientific discovery starts as a minority opinion. That doesn’t mean there won’t be bubbles of minority or majority opinions alike. We believe this makes it even more important for the viewer to be able to quickly evaluate the sources.
We should never forget that horrible actions have been justified by calling something a fact. Such deliberate misinterpretation or bad usage of the scientific method is a danger to society. That's why the need to reproduce findings and question the interpretation of results needs to become part of a healthy public discussion. We enable this review by making the connections visible. The Source Engine aims to show if something that's called a fact is justified by solid, reproducible results.
In a way we give anyone the chance to become part of the fact check. People that are good at spotting disputable claims can mark them. There are proven experts we’d like to give the opportunity to share their knowledge. As a society we invest a lot of money into scientific research but it’s hard to make another big paper full of insights accessible. Scientists have a responsibility for our society. As part of both society and science we encourage evidence-based contributions.
If you have more questions: We are happy to answer you.