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ENG 151 - SIFT Method for Evaluating Sources

This guide explains how to use the SIFT Method for evaluating sources. SIFT stands for Stop, Investigate the claim, Find better coverage, and Trace back to the original source.

Sift Method in action video

Example

Let's use the SIFT Method to see what we can find out about this article and the claim being made.

ArticleBiden Plan Will Raise Taxes on the Middle Class

Stop

What can you find out about the source and the author?

  1. Notice that it says National Review at the top of the article. Yahoo is repurposing an article from that publication. What kind of publication is National Review? Is it biased?
  2. Who is the author? What can you find out about him? Google Daniel J Pilla and you'll learn that he's a "tax litigation specialist” and author of 15 books. He's also the executive director of the Tax Freedom Institute. Look up this organization and learn about them, too. You'll find that the Tax Freedom Institute is also known as the Taxpayers Defense Institute - look up this organization too!
  3. Read the article itself. What is it actually about? 
  4. Look for language/words throughout article like: if, will likely, you can expect, we cannot be sure, desperate, spending spree, it's not difficult to foresee. What does that language say to you?

Overall, this appears to be an opinion piece with political bias.

Investigate the Source or Claim

What claim is the author making?

  1. The article’s claim is in the first paragraph -- the author is claiming that Biden will "repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed during the Trump administration." It's also about possible changes to Capital Gains taxes.
  2. Search the claim for yourself.

Example searches:

Biden repeal tax cut jobs act

Biden capital gains fact check

Find Better Coverage

Look for unbiased or more neutral information on Biden’s tax plans.

  1. Try the search above without the word repeal. (The word repeal will bias your search results).
  2. Look for consensus among multiple sources. Remember to go beyond the first few results, which might be sponsored content!
  3. You could also try the search without the word Biden, to see what others are saying about the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

Example searches:

Biden tax cut jobs act

Tax Cut and Jobs Act

Trace Back to the Original Source

  1. Government documents (primary sources) would be the best source for learning about Biden's tax plans.
  2. Add .gov to your search terms to make government websites float to the top of the results.

Example search:

Biden tax cut jobs act  .gov  --> One possible source is Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Plan

Tax Cut and Jobs Act .gov --> One possible source is the original bill from Congress.gov: H.R.1 - An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.