Is Snopes Liberal-Biased?

Author: Bill Chapman: email

A lot of conservatives believe that fact checkers have a liberal bias. I think this is partly because any honest fact checker will report that Trump is constantly lying, but I see evidence of it here.

Here is a National Review article about how California plans to have teachers leading schoolchildren in chants to Aztec gods, gods to which the Aztecs sacrifices humans as part of a program of "counter genocide". Here is a Snopes Article debunking the claim.

It turns out that the "counter genocide" was not in the school curriculum, but in a book written by out of the authors of the new curriculum. I wouldn't rate that as "mostly false", I'd rate it as "Mixture".

But Snopes goes along with the author's claim that the chants, directed to "Tezkatlipoka" and "Huitzilopochtli" were not, in fact, referring to Aztec gods, which is proposterous -- if you Google the words, it pops right up that they're the names of Aztec gods, and in both cases those gods received human sacrifices.

If students chanting prayers directed to entities who happen to have the same names as Aztec gods isn't praying to those gods, what's to keep a Fundamentalist Christian teacher from leading the students in a chant to "Jesus", claiming that "Jesus" in this context does not refer to a religious figure, but rather the "spirit of studiousness and discipline"?

It gets worse -- Snopes actually humors the author's claim that Aztec human sacrifice is a "myth" that never really happened, which is absurd, it's very well known and archeologists have found the bodies.

So Snopes fares pretty poorly on that one. The claim that California schoolchildren are to be led in chants to Aztec gods who received human sacrifices is far from "Mostly False", it's "spot on".

Next, here's a Snopes article on whether Al Gore said the Arctic Might be ice-free by 2014.

Now, they really seem to be bending over backward to help Al Gore out here. They phrased the question "Al Gore predicted that Earth’s ice caps would melt away by 2014.".

OK, he didn't "predict" it, he "speculated", and he never said it might be ice-free year-round. On that basis, they gave the question a "Mixture" rating.

But here's what Gore said in his 2007 Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.".

No one was accusing him of predicting ice-free year round.

It's a fact that if Al Gore hears a dozen scientists say a dozen things, he'll take the scariest story and talk about it like it's the consensus. He's been doing that for long enough to have built up quite a track record of being wrong, which is very harmful to his cause, because the whole case for global warming action rests on the credibility of dire predictions.

In fairness, Snopes should have phrased the questions such that the answer was at least "Mostly True".

Here's a Snopes article about Critical Race Theory. They only spoke with left-leaning sources, and take the left position -- that:

  • People who are against it have no idea what they are talking about.
  • CRT is a good thing.
  • They say that Republicans have no evidence that CRT is being taught in schools, but in fact Virginia Governor McAuliffe had directed in 2015 on the Virginia board board of education website that teachers should "embrace Critical Race Theory" in "order to re-engineer attitudes and belief systems.". When the controversy developed in the 2021 election, the website was scrubbed of the mention as McAuliffe lied and claimed CRT was not being taught in schools.

    National Review ran this article by teachers describing how, while classical CRT scholars are not read in K-12 schools, the K-12 curriculum is very strongly influenced by CRT concepts.

    While the term "CRT" had a broad definition before, once Republicans started talking about it, Democrats narrowed the definition to something which was fundamentally unteachable in K-12.

    In addition to just "CRT", a big part of the controversy is that, with the pandemic and Zoom and both parents and children doing everything remotely, parents got a more intimate look at what their children were learning, and saw that a lot of it was fundamentally racist against whites. It's unfortunate that the controversy revolved around either teaching or not teaching "CRT", because that enabled the left to narrowly redefine CRT and claim that there is no controversy at all.

    The Snopes article claims to describe the whole controversy, having the title "What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Are Some People So Mad at It?", yet all they did was talk to left-leaning sources and then nit-pick over the post-narrowed definition of "CRT" provided by the left.

    Snopes may be biased, but they're not completely useless. They do a lot of research, and you can learn a lot from reading the whole article, but you must read the whole article!! You can't trust their verdicts at all.

    One of the most constructive things that could happen to public debate would be for more conservatives to find fact checkers they can trust, but they aren't going to trust Snopes very much as long as it's showing this kind of bias.