The biweekly ‘So What?’ guide highlights advice, events, and tips — mostly from the advocacy and evaluation worlds, selected by the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program. This week’s post comes to you from Executive Director David Devlin-Foltz.
Check Your Fact Checking
Those of us who at least think we are in the reality-based community appreciate the fact-checking efforts of reputable sources like the Tax Policy Center or FactCheck.org. Advocates like to use them to counter statements that are, well, misleading or simply false. But now comes a Spitfire Strategies blogpost reminding advocates not to repeat the phony information even as they seek to correct the record. Multiple researchers have shown how repeating “alternative facts” reinforces them. This piece highlights the work of Emily Thorson at Syracuse University and her study of what she calls “belief echoes” — the pernicious lingering effects of misinformation.
We all try to be careful about accurate analysis: what do those data really say? For evaluators reviewing data and seeking Truth (not Truthiness), this is a very big deal. Check out this piece from the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog: a careful re-examination of a data set shows how it can be used to demonstrate three very different conclusions. And extra points to the Monkey Cage team for using this new article to question the conclusions of its own earlier post that reached a different — and now perhaps questionable — conclusion.
Not sure why peacebuilding seems like an especially good idea these days. Maybe it’s watching the phenomenal PBS series on Vietnam and feeling some… resonance with current events. (Or maybe it’s having a son in the Marine Corps reserves.) Evaluating efforts to build trust and reduce conflict are in that hard-to-define, hard-to-assess area that we call home at APEP. So here’s a long-deserved shout-out to Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation for Peace (better known online and offline as dmeforpeace.org). Check out their newly redesigned website and its resource bank. And listen in for their M&E Thursday Talks; if you missed this week’s excellent conversation with Rebecca Herrington about developmental evaluation, check back soon: all the cool stuff from past webinars is available right here.