Here’s How to Become an Expert at Spotting Fake News

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If you’re going to make informed decisions, financial or otherwise, it’s important to get your facts straight — something you might not be achieving, depending on where you turn for news.

More than a decade ago, the Christian Science Monitor ran a story called “Are you smarter than a Fox News viewer? How about a CNN viewer?” based on a survey conducted in 2010 by the World Public Opinion project at the University of Maryland.

I wrote an article about it, but not because of politics. I wrote it because investors need to be especially concerned about separating truth from fiction, and facts from opinion. Being uninformed or ill-informed as an investor can be expensive.

For example, here’s one of the questions asked in the World Public Opinion survey. It concerns the Great Recession, which began just before former President Barack Obama took office:

As you know, the American economy had a major downturn starting in the fall of 2008. Do you think that now the American economy is:
A. Starting to recover.
B. Still getting worse.

This question was posed late in 2010. How would you have answered? More than half of overall news viewers thought the economy was still getting worse. But nearly three quarters of Fox News viewers thought it was getting worse.

The truth? The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009.

Many of the stocks I own today were purchased in the spring and summer of 2009, when the economy was bottoming out. Presumably, investors who thought the economy was getting worse were on the sidelines. I made a ton of money on my 2009 investments by accessing unbiased facts.

This is one of many examples of how slanted news, whether on the right or the left, can make otherwise informed investors make ill-informed decisions.

That’s what this week’s “Money!” podcast is about. We’re going to talk about how to determine whether the news you’re consuming, financial or otherwise, is reliable enough to put your money where somebody else’s mouth is.

Our special guest this week is Andrew Selepak, an expert on fake news. He’s also program coordinator of the master’s program with specialization in social media at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications and a lecturer in the college’s Department of Media Production, Management and Technology.

As usual, my co-host will be financial journalist Miranda Marquit. Listening in and sometimes contributing is producer and novice investor Aaron Freeman.

Sit back, relax and listen to this week’s “Money!” podcast:

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Show notes

Want more information? Check out these resources and the fact-checking links below:

Fact-checking links:

  • A project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, this site is terrific for checking up on political claims.
  • PolitiFact: The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, researches the claims of politicians and checks their accuracy.
  • Snopes: One of the oldest debunking sites on the Internet, Snopes focuses on urban legends, news stories and memes.
  • AllSides: Displays the day’s top news stories from the left, center, and right of the political spectrum — side-by-side so you can see the full picture.

Money Talks News links:

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and I have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Computer-generated show transcript

How to Become an Expert at Spotting Fake News

Stacy Johnson: [00:00:00] Hey guys, and welcome to the money podcast. You know, a few years ago, one of our friends was over for a visit here at my house and she said something so strange. You could have knocked me over with a feather. She said, I think the world could be flat. How do you know what’s not? And you know what, within a few months, another one of our friends confided in me that she was pretty sure the world was only 5,000 years old.

This stuff never used to happen. I’m in my sixties. And until about 10 years ago, I never heard an adult city think that’s stupid. Suddenly it’s like we’re in the dark ages. Now. Fake news is bad enough, but take financial news is even worse because then as an investor, you can’t trust your sources. You can lose money, maybe big money.

So today we’re going to talk about fake news. Well, the focus here as always is on investing. The things you learned today will make you an expert in detecting any and all kinds of fake news. I’m your host, Stacy Johnson. And this podcast is brought to you by money talks, Serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

My co-host is money expert random mark from Miranda. Mark Hello. And also with this producer and sound effects, man. Aaron Freeman say hello, Aaron

Aaron Freeman: [00:01:12] fake news. Oh, sorry. Yeah.

Stacy Johnson: [00:01:15] And today we also have a very special guest with us. Is Dr. Andrew Sela Peck from the university of Florida. He is an expert at fake news.

Hello, Andrew. Quick moment. Why are you an expert at fake news?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:01:28] Well, I’ve spent a lot of time at UAF teaching students about fake news, how it impacts us, how to look for it, to not trust it, and to basically understand that a lot of the information that they’re getting when they’re online, probably isn’t, you know, objective real and valuable unless they actually look and see who.

Put it out there and what their sources were.

Stacy Johnson: [00:01:53] Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I am so ready to dig in today’s topic. Honestly, I’ve been wanting to talk about this for years, cause it’s really driving me crazy. But before we, before we go on though, quick disclaimer, should you hear the names of stocks or other investments on this podcast?

It does not mean that they are recommendations. You never invest based solely on our advice because it may not relate to your situation. Get your own advice, make your own decisions. And

now let’s get back to our topic at hand learning how to spot fake news. Now, now let me tell you guys why this is important to me.

I could tell you one little story and I’m going to let Andrew tell us how to spot fake news. But I was, I was, uh, I wrote an article. I’m going to say 10 years ago, maybe it was 2012. I don’t know. And I wrote it because I saw this, um, article in the Christian science monitor. It was about a survey that had been done where people to show how smart you were by watching local news or by watching news different kinds of news.

Okay. So for example, one of the questions was now this, okay. This is back in 2010. So this is just after there was a recession, 2008 Obama took office, uh, in January, 2009. Okay. So now, so this was the great recession I’m talking about now. Here’s the question. As you know, the American economy had a major downturn starting in the fall of 2008.

Do you think that now the American economy is a starting to recover? Or be still getting worse there. Keep in mind, this question was in 2010, the downturn started in 2008. The survey question, how would you answer that question? More than half of overall news viewers thought the economy was still getting worse, but nearly three quarters of Fox news viewers thought it was getting worse.

So, and what was actually happening? The economy was recovering. It started recovering in the third quarter of 2009. So half of news viewers didn’t realize the economy was starting to recover three quarters of Fox news. Viewers didn’t know that. Why am I telling you this? Because I bought a boatload of stocks in the spring and summer of 2009.

When the economy was bottoming out. If you thought the economy was still getting worse in 2010, you weren’t buying. You miss the boat. You’re getting bad information from the news. And especially if it was Fox news, I’m not signaling, I’m not singling out Fox news. I’m selling, I’m saying this because Obama was in the white house.

So Fox news was trying to paint him, you know, in a, in a bad light. It hadn’t been CNBC and a Republican in the white house. Might’ve been the same thing. So I’m not trying to single out Fox news. It’s just showing you how, when you’re watching news, you may not be getting the straights. Now Andrew, tell me if that makes sense, if that, if you’ve seen these sorts of situations before.

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:04:39] Well, I think what you got to keep in mind is that the 24 hour news networks, I think using the term news. Sometimes it’s a bit of a false statement. Uh, it’s the 24 hour opinion networks. And that’s what you’re talking. Yeah. There with Fox news, having, you know, they’re telling their viewers, the economy is terrible because Obama was in charge or, you know, if it had been a Republican president, MSNBC and CNN would have said the economy’s terrible because the Republicans in charge.

That that’s a big problem because a lot of people do get their news and information, obviously even 2010 to 2021 from these 24 hour news networks. And these are not objective reporters. These are not people who are going out and really looking at information from both sides. They’re telling their side of the story.

They’re facts and it doesn’t mean that the information is false, but it doesn’t mean that it’s objective balanced or entirely true. So, what do we do? Well, I think one of the things that people have to keep in mind is that national news, when the 24 hour news networks, a lot of times, it’s just talking heads, talking to other talking heads, and this has gone back to the days of crossfire.

And that, that really sort of brought that whole new era of opinion. People just spouting off opinions rather than there being actual journalism going. Um, for people to get information. Obviously one of the things they have to do is sometimes do their own research, which opens up a whole new can of worms.

Because now you have people who are going online, looking for information, and, you know, they’re trusting Bob’s house of financial and who knows who Bob is and where Bob is getting his information. But it’s probably not good. And that sort of leads leads to people, making all sorts of decisions, whether it’s financial or healthcare or purchasing decisions, or even going to a restaurant and they’re getting their information.

Bad places. And that’s led to either the rise in number of people who think the earth is flat. Um, there’s also millions of people in the United States who believe the world is run by lizard people. So the flat earth thing doesn’t necessarily bother me as much as the lizard people, but I think we still have.

Stacy Johnson: [00:07:01] Where did, why is this happening, Andrew? I don’t understand it. How could I be standing in front of a 50 year old adult and have them think the world is flat? What the hell are they reading?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:07:13] Well, I think one of the big things that this kind of goes back to kind of 2001, and we did

Stacy Johnson: [00:07:19] see just

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:07:20] this huge increase in conspiracy theories surrounding September 11th, that, you know, September 11th was an inside job.

This was the Bush administration and you know, this huge rise in conspiracy theories kind of. Went hand in hand with the huge rise in the internet. There’s always been conspiracy theories, you know, who killed JFK was, you know, obviously the, the big conspiracy theory for decades and, and remains one. But now everybody has a voice, you know, there’s was a limitation on who could be a content creator prior to this huge rise in social media, you know, before.

There was gatekeepers. There was a limited number of people who could have their voice be heard. There was a limited number of people who we could get news and information from. There was a limited number of media out there, there wasn’t YouTube there wasn’t Instagram and Snapchat and four Chan, eight Chan and Reddit there wasn’t blogs everywhere.

You know, you had three networks and you listened to Walter Cronkite and that’s the way it was kind of a thing. Now everybody has a voice and any voice can be heard and any voice can go viral. And it doesn’t really matter whose voice that is or how educated or how informed or even how sane it is. And people are looking for answers and they will go and they’ll find answers that seem to fit their own beliefs.

Not always a

Stacy Johnson: [00:08:50] good thing.

Miranda Marquit: [00:08:51] I think, I think something that, uh, you said, uh, really makes a lot of sense of, you said people can find answers that fit their own beliefs. And we thought, you know, I remember thinking, um, you know, when I first started using the Google and, and the internet to find information, I thought how wonderful, uh, we can all learn about things.

We can all become better, more informed. Uh, but it was what’s really happened is that. Only can we get all of this information and find things that meet with our beliefs. We can now construct our own reality. Um, there are people who live in something in a completely different reality, uh, than their neighbors.

Now you can do that. You can surround yourself with an echo chamber that reinforces what you believe and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And you don’t ever have to interact with somebody who has a different. Opinion than you, you don’t even even have to interact with the facts anymore. You don’t even have to interact with science if you don’t want to anymore.

But I think that really. One of the key issues here, um, is that it’s very hard to kind of break out of that cap, that comfortable cocoon once you’re in it. And once you’ve surrounded yourself with a variety of information sources that fits your needs. View and plus it’s easier to find people that believe this stuff, right?

You say, oh, well, I’m looking at somebody who’s 50 years old and believes in flat earth or lizard people or whatever. Well now thanks to the internet. You don’t feel isolated and alone because nobody else on your block believes in these things. Now you can find hundreds or thousands of other people who share that world.

And kind of create that alternate reality with them. I think that’s one of the biggest issues we’re running into right now.

Stacy Johnson: [00:10:32] What’s frustrating too, is that some of these people, I just remember when Andrew was saying that, that I also had a friend who said nine 11 was staged. Um, and, and it’s, it’s the same evening.

He said, well, you’re, you’re familiar with the honor Nakia, aren’t you? And I’m like what was on and on. You don’t know on a Knocky, that’s a 40 foot aliens that came to take the earth back in the Egyptian day. When the pharaohs wandered the earth and helps civilized human beings. I’m like, what the hell are you talking about?

Oh, I’ll show you a picture of him. So he goes to my computer and, uh, he, he pulls up on Inaki and there’s a 40 foot skeleton with a man standing next to it. I mean, the head is bigger than a person. Well, if you search that picture, it won the Photoshop award in 1999. I mean, it’s just so easy to check this stuff out, but here’s what I was going to say.

Usually there there’s, there’s an inverse relationship between how stupid someone does it, how loud they talk or, or, or a relationship I should say. In other words, these people who say this stuff, they’re mad that I don’t believe them. They’re positive. That the world’s 5,000 years old are run by lizard people or nine 11 mistakes and there, and they act like I’m an idiot because I don’t believe them.

So here’s my question to you, Andrew. If you’ve got somebody standing in front of you like that, or somebody’s communicating with you online, how exactly. Do you approach them? What do you do to get them to see the light?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:12:01] A lot of things that were just discussed there. And I would like to go back to one point, I think it might be time for you to look at new friends because there seems to be some people you’re hanging out with that.

I’m a little concerned about the influence that they might have on you. But that being said,

Stacy Johnson: [00:12:17] um,

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:12:18] I think what we

Stacy Johnson: [00:12:19] have is that it’s very difficult because you

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:12:22] know, there are echo chambers, I think, during the pandemic, because we were so limited in our offline interpersonal interactions with people, everything was online and, you know, whether it’s the algorithms that just kind of lead us down a deep dark hole of whatever content we’re consuming, the fact

Stacy Johnson: [00:12:38] that there’s the.


Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:12:40] chambers, where you can literally search for the

Stacy Johnson: [00:12:42] things that fit your exact beliefs and then be an online community

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:12:47] of others who also agree with those same things. There’s a number of factors that have led to where we are right now. Now the solutions that you could find to it, whether it’s on an individual level, on a societal level, on a community level, those just as there are many different things that have led to where we are, there’s many different ways.

Not necessarily, you know, slay the dragon on this, but there are ways to kind of combat it. I do see friends that are on Facebook and they’re posting things and I’m

Stacy Johnson: [00:13:17] like, okay. I, that just doesn’t seem

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:13:20] right to me. And then you do your own little research and you’d go, oh yeah, that’s what they posted is false or it’s old or it’s outdated or it’s unsafe.

And one of the things

Stacy Johnson: [00:13:31] that you see people do is that they challenge them

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:13:34] publicly and they say, well, no, that’s not true. Let me show you where it is. And the

Stacy Johnson: [00:13:39] problem is is that. As an individual, as a human, we don’t

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:13:43] like to be told we’re wrong. It reminds us too much of being a child and

Stacy Johnson: [00:13:48] being chastised by a parent.

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:13:50] So it’s generally better in that kind of situation. If it’s a friend

Stacy Johnson: [00:13:53] posting something to social media, if you chastise them in public,

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:13:58] you are now put them on the defense and in doing so. They’re

Stacy Johnson: [00:14:02] more likely to defend a

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:14:04] wrong position, not because of the position itself, but because you have challenged them, you have told them that they are stupid, that they are wrong.

So instead it’s better to just send them a private message. Hey, I saw the thing that you posted

Stacy Johnson: [00:14:18] here is a link that you can take. That shows that what you posted may not be true. Just take a look at it. And in that case, because it’s not this public scolding, it’s not,

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:14:29] you know, w when you you’re out in public and you see a parent and they’re scolding their child in public, it’s this more private thing.

Stacy Johnson: [00:14:36] People are generally more willing to accept. Oh, let me take a look at that. Oh, you know what? You’re right,

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:14:41] man. I really probably should take that post. So a lot of it gets

Stacy Johnson: [00:14:44] back to just some, some basic sort of human psychology.

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:14:49] Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong. And nobody definitely likes to be told they’re wrong in front of others.

So if you

Stacy Johnson: [00:14:55] can do it in a small way, that’s

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:14:58] more private, better chance of it occurring. If it’s somebody who’s standing there in front of you, I think the first decision you have to make. Do I even want to be or associate with this person longer than this conversation has already gone on for, and if you don’t, it’s probably time to back away from the conversation

Stacy Johnson: [00:15:16] that makes total sense.

Now, let me ask you this question too. But one of my friends, uh, the, actually the woman who thought that the world might be 5,000 years old said, I said, well, you know, you’ve got to start reading sources. Or giving you good information. And she said, well, what are those sources? There are no sources for good information.

They’re all, they all have an ax to grind. How do you respond to that?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:15:42] I hear this from students and, you know, I will do a lecture. I’ll do

Stacy Johnson: [00:15:46] a couple

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:15:46] of lectures about, you know, the rise of fake news, where fake news is coming from, um, sort of on a national news level and I’ll have students afterwards go. W w what, what do I even trust?

Where do I even go? Um, and the thing is

Stacy Johnson: [00:16:02] it’s, I think it’s very difficult because you do have these

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:16:07] national 24 hour news networks that get so much attention, but me personally, I think the associated press is a great source because the associated press, it shows up in left and right media. They generally understand that to be in both.

Stacy Johnson: [00:16:24] They have

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:16:24] to be kind of in the middle. Reuters is good as well. Personally, I watched the

Stacy Johnson: [00:16:29] BBC. Um, but that’s

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:16:31] more because I know if I’m watching national media. They kind of forget. There’s a world that exists outside the United States that there’s other countries out there and stuff goes on there. So I find the BBC helpful.

Um, and I get a lot of news. Like a lot of people think this is shocking. I get a lot of news from Twitter, but it’s because I can curate who I trust you get information from rather than just trusting, opening up a newspaper, opening up a magazine or turning on the TV.

Stacy Johnson: [00:17:03] Awesome. You know, as a matter of fact, I want to also get back to financial news because that’s really why we’re here.

Although this has been a fascinating conversation as well, and, and also maybe it’s to get some more sources should be for, for quality news. But before we do that, I need to take a quick break. I should have done it a couple of minutes ago, but I didn’t want to interrupt you quick break. Be right. Okay. We are now back.

Let me brush out a couple of things and Andrew, please feel free to jump in here. If there’s something I’m missing, but one of the main things we’re trying to accomplish, it was me that led us astray there and to my friends. But, uh, we really want to talk about some financial news money news and ha because fake money news can really hurt you financially, obviously.

So one of the reasons, one of the things I wanted to mention, for example, A lot of people are getting interviewed these days on, uh, cryptocurrencies. And I want to caution people who are our listeners here, that if you, if you’re getting it, if you’re seeing an interview of a cryptocurrency. Air quotes expert.

And that person is a huge owner of cryptocurrency or they’re the CEO of a company that is a cryptocurrency exchange. What they say is meaningless. As far as I’m concerned, I turned the channel. I mean, I don’t care what somebody says. Who’s got a billion dollars with a cryptocurrency, cause they’re not going to say anything.

It’s going to hurt the value of cryptocurrencies. So, so be careful listen to who you’re, who you’re listening to pay attention to who you’re listening to. And you’re listening to financial news. If the person has an ax to grind, if they have, if they have position in that investment or they have a position in you participating in the market, for example, a stock brokers, a brokerage firm, an investment firm.

They’re probably not going to tell you the stock market is going down because that’s going to have you take money out of the stock market. That’s not how they make a living. They don’t pay their mortgage, but you’re not investing. So they’re probably going to have pretty bullish. Uh, insights into the stock market.

So be very careful about who you were getting your information from, even if it’s from a reliable source, like the associated press or CNBC. Do you agree with that, Andrew?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:18:57] Well, I would say a hundred percent. The big thing is to know where the information is coming from. And that, you know, when I, when I talked to my students about looking at fake news and trying to determine the reliability of the information that they’re consuming, a huge part of that is.

Who is telling this story and who are they talking to? And if they’re talking to someone, are they fully revealing their background? So one of the things that easily comes up is, you know, whether it’s financial news or if it’s political news, just the news of the day. If the reporter telling you the story, well, what are they a true reporter?

Or did they have a background doing something else? Um, you know, you look at somebody like George Stephanopoulos on ABC news. This is not somebody who spent his whole time as a reporter. This is somebody who worked for Al gore, worked in the Clinton white house. Is there the possibility that someone who made their living and made their connections by promoting, supporting a political candidate or a group of political cases?

That might carry over to their reporting a hundred percent. It’s just only natural, the same. Thing’s going to come true for anybody who’s working in doing, you know, either they are a reporter or if they’re a source for a story and they work for a company. If I hear the CEO of Exxon, talk about how the future.

Uh, energy is going to be oil. I’m thinking it’s because you work at Exxon. Like there’s a reason for that. Um, and, and that’s something a lot of times people don’t think about it. They don’t, they just hear, oh, this is an expert, or this is somebody who is being interviewed. So I should trust what they have to say, or this is the reporter.

Who’s doing the story because their names in the byline or they’re on the screen. And you’ve got to look deeper than just a title. But who’s backing them financially, who

Stacy Johnson: [00:20:47] have they worked for in the

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:20:47] past. But that takes time.

Stacy Johnson: [00:20:50] That takes effort. That takes some

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:20:52] mental. Ability and too often, we’re just not willing to take it.

We’re just, you know, turn on the news or I heard this and then we start telling everybody, and the problem with that is it leads to exactly the types of situations that you’re talking about. And this is where, you know, Elon Musk goes on and talks about cryptocurrencies. And depending on what he says, you know, they, they go up in value or they dropped dramatically.

But when you’re a multi-billionaire, you don’t really care. You’re, you’re just playing around with other people’s money at that point.

Miranda Marquit: [00:21:23] I just think it’s interesting what he’s talking about because, uh, as I, I’m not sure anybody realizes, but I actually have a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse university.

And so my actual original training is in fact, uh, journalism. I started out, uh, got my bachelor’s degree in comms and communications, uh, went on and got, uh, got a master’s degree in journalism. And so, uh, my background is actually this and one of the things we talked about a lot is how. You know, kind of, uh, the rise of infotainment is affecting how we consume information and it’s not just about facts anymore.

It’s about, am I being entertained by this? Um, also kind of that shift right back in the day, uh, you know, we talk about Walter Cronkite. We talk about Edward R Murrow. We talk about these folks. Uh, back in those days, uh, networks realized that their news division was a loss leader. They expected that investigative journalism was going to take time and energy and resources, including financial resources today.

Uh, you know, today all of these news organizations are part of these big conglomerates and they are expected to generate their own. Money they’re expected to generate clicks from the internet. They’re expected to generate revenue. I mean, I, um, I, there are certain organizations that I used to look at and be like, Ooh, it’d be amazing to write for them.

And then when I start looking at writing for them, I realize they are making money from affiliate income, just like any other financial website, um, and financial information website. That doesn’t mean the information is necessarily bad. It doesn’t mean you can’t trust it, but you know, like we’ve discussed.

If you are doing this, um, you have to realize that they’re making money, uh, from an ad model now. And that’s, that’s just kind of the way it is now. And so this kind of shift means we do have to be more careful about the information we consume. And when I write about, you know, as we know, I do have some cryptocurrency in my portfolio.

When I write about cryptocurrency, when I write about anything, really, I make sure. My writing includes like, Hey, you know, this may not be right for you. You need to do some research. You need to realize that one size doesn’t fit

Stacy Johnson: [00:23:33] all, you know, by the way, Miranda, my ex-wife, uh, who was a news anchor also got her master’s degree at Syracuse in journalism and journalism school.

Now I started in television news in 1988. Uh, and I remember what you’re talking about. Your there used to be a wall between sales and news. You couldn’t accept any sort of. From any person that could potentially become a news story. Uh, and now it’s super common. In fact, turn on the news tomorrow morning, there’s going to be some local restaurant giving food to the anchors.

Uh, in, in some cooking segment, you know, w how they’re going to, how can they objectively, we cover the restaurant. Now, if a news story happens, sir, I mean, this is just routine. Now this whole, what happened was corporations, as you said, Miranda came in and they took down the wall. Well, they didn’t take down the wall.

They just came to the news director and said, you need to be a profit. Now you don’t, you don’t get to, you know, rest on your laurels and do do the responsible thing. Well, I’m not


Stacy Johnson: [00:24:30] they’re telling him to be, but they’re saying that you need to make money. My friend. Yeah. And if you can’t figure out how we’ll figure it out for

Miranda Marquit: [00:24:37] you.

Right. And when I, and even now today, I mean, I’ve, I’ve done things in the past where I’ve had, uh, brand relationships with folks and I do brand ambassadors and I don’t even call myself a journalist anymore, even though that’s my training and background, I don’t even use that term anymore. To completely describe myself, but, you know, I always try and disclose that.

And you should be looking for people who are disclosing if they’re having a relationship, um, with somebody in the past. Um, if they are, if they have that kind of brand relationship or if they’re doing something, uh, with a company or if they’re receiving affiliate income. And I know here at money talks, uh, at money talks news, right?

I mean, you have affiliates and you disclose that, um, And on my own website, I have affiliates and I disclose that. And, but because once again, we are shifting to that situation where, um, you know, okay. But at the same time, are you being responsible with the information you’re putting out there? And, and that’s kind of that fine line and it’s hard.

It was hard for me to be like, okay, I’m going to go ahead and try and make sure that at least I’m making enough affiliate income to cover my web hosting. And how do I do that line? How do I decide who I’m going to work with? And it’s, it’s a hard line to kind of walk because we also have to make a living.

Stacy Johnson: [00:25:56] Okay, Andrew, let me ask you this. You’re the one who’s out there. Teaching journalists, uh, something that I’ve been doing for 40 years, but nobody taught. I have an accounting degree. Uh, it obvious CPA, nobody, but I’ve been doing news stories since 1987. But anyway, here’s my question. You’re teaching a journalism students now on how to discern fake news.

Is there a 1, 2, 3 you could give me, I know this is a long topic and giving you a very. Time to answer, but can you for our listeners out there, could you say okay, if you want to determine whether you’re reading somebody who’s accurate first, do this, then do this then. Wow,

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:26:28] I’m sorry. A three punch. A way to determine if information that you’re getting is fake.

Uh, I would say the first thing is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Uh, I would

Stacy Johnson: [00:26:42] say number two is that

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:26:44] if it agrees with everything that you already believe, it’s probably also not true. And the third one is again, just kind of hitting the top ones is that never use one source. Uh, never used one source for information.

You know, whether we’re talking about the markets, whether we’re talking about health don’t trust one place, and just use that as, you know, sort of the Bible in terms of what’s going on, that’s always where you’re going to lead to issues for the simple fact of, you know, no

Stacy Johnson: [00:27:14] one is going to be a

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:27:16] full, complete expert on anything.

And all the things that we’re talking about are very complicated, whether it is again, something. Yeah, the Corona virus, or if we’re talking about cryptocurrencies or if we’re talking about, you know, what car to buy, there’s nobody who’s going to be the sole expert. So a big thing is to always gather more sources.

It takes more time, but you’re probably going to get a more reliable answer and information that you could

Stacy Johnson: [00:27:43] actually use. Great answer, especially since I put you on the spot, you know, speaking of which that word. Andrew, you know, this, this is my pet peeve. Verandas heard me complain about it before, uh, I’ve been doing this.

I’ve been a CPA since 1981. Uh, and so I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I was a stock broker for 10 years, blah, blah, blah, written five books. And every day I’m on the internet and there’s somebody who’s 23 years old calling themselves of personal finances. And you could see it on TV too. Even national news, they’ll say terrorism expert.

What the hell is that? You used to be a terrorist. Do you write a book? You a professor. What makes you an expert? You know, to me, what you want to do is you want to check someone’s credentials and then you can decide whether they’re an expert or not. But if you go to a TV station, you’re about to go on camera, they’ll write whatever they, whatever you want them to write underneath.

Yeah. You can call yourself an expert, anything, but that doesn’t make you one. So I know this way takes time though, to figure out whether someone’s actually knows what they’re talking about or not though, doesn’t it? Well, I would

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:28:40] I, a hundred percent agree with you in terms of like, what’s an expert, like I’ve done interviews before and they’re like, he’s a social media expert.

I’m like, no, I’m not like, do you understand how broad social media is? Mark Zuckerberg is not a social media. There nobody who can know everything on these huge, incredibly complicated, difficult subjects, whether you’re talking about, again, the financial markets, whether you’re talking about, uh, social media, cryptocurrency, fake news, however, what you can find are people who are trustworthy or reputable.

Or what you can find are people who seem to have a background in it and can talk about the parts that they’re familiar with or the parts that they deal with. And I think that’s, again, another big thing of, you know, journalists on Syracuse is a

Stacy Johnson: [00:29:28] great school

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:29:29] and, you know, there’s a lot of really good journalism schools out there in terms of their ranking, but a lot of things that happens at these stations or these papers or these magazines is that you have reported.

Who are asked to cover stories on education, finance, technology, healthcare. And just as I think it’s very difficult to be an expert in any one thing, reporters can’t be experts in all of these things. And it’s very easy for them to just find the, the first person out there to interview for a story. And they’ve listed themselves as an expert and the reporter doesn’t have the background to really go nothing.

Because, you know, it’s just like, oh, well they say they’re an expert and here’s the, they’ve got a website and they’ve got a Twitter, so let’s interview them. Um, and again, that goes back to the fact that if we’re looking at it’s difficult to be an expert in any one thing, we’re kind of requiring reporters to be experts in all, a lot of things.

And that’s just not gonna.

Stacy Johnson: [00:30:28] That is very true. That was very good insight. You know, by the way, before we get into, we’re almost getting to where we have to start answering questions, but I wanted to throw some fact checking links out there, but these are going to be in our show notes. So you folks listening out there, you don’t have to remember this, just go to our show notes at money talks, and you’ll get these lights, but they’re very cool.

I looked at them all. They’re very good. Okay. The first one was called fact check that’s from the Annenberg public policy center. And so they, they checked all kinds of facts on all kinds of things, mostly political. PolitiFact, as it may, as is obvious is that’s a pre-list supplies, price winning a website, and they do claims of politicians and check their accuracy of what they say. I’ve used many times before Snopes and SNOP E they’re one of the oldest debugging sites on the internet. You should check that out. They do all kinds of stuff, not just politics. Uh, LinkedIn. I thought this was an interesting source. I use LinkedIn a lot and those of us in business, probably, uh, probably everybody on this podcast as, but anyway, you can go and check the credentials of somebody who’s giving you information that way, which may or may not be accurate, but it’s another source.

And then this was a really cool one. And Andrew you’ll heard of this probably, but I hadn’t. It’s called all sites. So it’s all And what they do is they display the day’s top news stories from. From the center and from the right of the political spectrum. So you’ll literally have three stories side by side from left center and right.

And that’s a really cool way to try to, you could see the bias in stories and it’s a cool way to get, get a middle of the road view or to look at why, you know, how the rightest distorting or how the left is distorting the same facts. Have you, do you know that? Do you know that website? Andrew?

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:32:09] I actually have an assignment in my class

Stacy Johnson: [00:32:11] that uses that website

Andrew Selepak, PhD: [00:32:14] and I have students go and read one of the stories from the left right in the middle.

And then explain what was missing from. The different stories, what was included. And then also take a look at the people who are interviewed or quoted in these stories and what their backgrounds are in terms of like how bias to the information you’re going to get and look at the person who wrote the story and what their background is.

So a hundred percent familiar with that site and a hundred percent use that site in an assignment for one of my class.

Stacy Johnson: [00:32:47] That’s awesome. Well, yeah, so those of you out there listening, go to that site, go to all these sites, check out our show notes at Angie really helped me a lot. Understand this stuff.

Let’s go ahead and do our questions. Miranda. We take questions from readers or viewers rather every week, Andrew. So if you don’t mind holding up for a second, we can answer a few questions, then we’ll be done. Randy, you got it.

Miranda Marquit: [00:33:07] Yeah. So I’ve got villages. GALF Florida. She says, how do I start day trading?

Step-by-step instructions for people who aren’t market savvy would be great. Thanks for including it. All right. She goes, Stacy.

Stacy Johnson: [00:33:21] Nope. Nope. Not going to include this bill. Is this gal, Florida. I just went by the villages the other day. It’s the largest retirement community in Florida. And if not in the United States anyway, though, bill.

Please don’t day trade, right? It’s a dumb thing to do. Um, now I’m not saying you can’t make money at it, but you know what? The first story I did on day trading was probably, I think I was, uh, he goes to reporter in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1990 or so. And people set up these courses, you know, to teach people how to day trade.

It’s really hard to make money yet. Villages, gal it’s it’s soup, it’s silly. It’s gambling, you know, here’s, here’s a comparison though. When you walk into a casino, somebody in that casino is going to walk out a huge winner, but not very many of them, somebody is going to pull that handle and make and make $10,000 tonight.

But it ain’t going to beat you. So if you think you can make a living playing blackjack or something like that, great, that maybe you can make it. Doing a day trading, but I will guarantee you that 90% of people who day trade lose their butts and, and not too much time either. So if you are going to do it, I’m not going to help you, but if you are gonna do it, you can look up information on the internet and I would advise you, I would stringently advise you not to try to day trade more than you can afford.

Miranda Marquit: [00:34:39] Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. And for the love of all that is holy, please, please do not use margin. When you start day trading, please do

Stacy Johnson: [00:34:46] oh, that’s even worse. Now you can lose borrowed money. That’s even better now. All right. I have a question for you specifically. This is from Terry. Terry says, love the podcast.

One thing I’d like to see is a discussion about how inflation and interest rates, debt payoffs, for example, does it make since the payoff with 20 year college loan payment, if the interest is 3%, I know what Stacy would say, but. Can you believe that he knows what I would say?

Miranda Marquit: [00:35:17] You’d say. Yeah, well Terry would say, well, Stacy, you would say, just like pay that off.

So I, on the other hand would be like, no, for the love of God. Um, no, I do well, honestly. I mean, I think when it comes down to is taking a look at where you’re at. What you’re, what, what you’re comfortable with. As we all know, I still have my student loans. I am not planning on paying them off early. Um, I do have a lower interest rate than that.

Mine is 1.9%. So let’s just call it 2%. And so, um, so I’m not paying my student loans off early. Uh I’m instead taking the money that I would use to pay them off early and investing that money. So, I mean, I still make my student loan payments. It’s still doing the thing. Um, and actually I will, there’ll be paid off in about.

A little bit less than 10 years now is where we’re at. Just by letting them kind of be on, on automatic. And so I actually invest the money that I would have put, and I’ve made a much better return, but I’m also comfortable with those numbers. And I am also comfortable with the fact that if something happened and I had to pay off those loans, I could do it.

Now. My loans are in fact, a federal. They are, uh, that I did go ahead and consolidate them. So I do have a consolidated loan so that if I had to, I could go on income-driven repayment. Um, or I could go on some of these other, these other tools that the federal. Offers now, if you have a private student loan, you may not have that option.

And so you may want to pay off that loan faster to have that peace of mind. So if you are worried about that, if you’re worried about the potential for defaulting having that impact you, um, then yeah, I would say pay it off early. It’s all about your comfort level and where you sit and where you, uh, what you are comfortable with debt.

Um, but you know, for me, um, you know, I, I am in a, I am in a phase. Place where I can’t deduct all of my student loan interest, but I can still deduct part of it. Um, so that’s something to look at as well. It’s tax deductible. Plus I am investing what I would have used to pay it off early and I’ve had much better, uh, financial success with that.

The numbers work out for me. Um, and the comfort level works out for me. And that’s really what is most.

Stacy Johnson: [00:37:38] So basically the bottom line is you can make more than your. Right then leave the debt alone. But now I I’d forgotten Miranda that we’d gone down this road before, and now I understand what Terry was doing.

It’s kind of like, don’t go to dad for the answer, go to mom. Cause you know what, she’s, she’s going to allow it. He wants it. Doesn’t want to pay off his loans any, and he knows you’re going to let him keep it

Miranda Marquit: [00:37:57] that’s right, because I’m a bad person. No, but no, but seriously though. I mean, it really does depend on how the numbers work out for you and what your comfort level is.

And what your personal values are, because I think everybody has their own style and it’s possible to be successful doing something, uh, your way that maybe somebody else wouldn’t do.

Stacy Johnson: [00:38:18] All right. You have it your way then.

Miranda Marquit: [00:38:24] What’s our last question. Last question is from Deanna. Uh, w what do you think of H E I loan?

Stacy Johnson: [00:38:32] This is interesting. Are you familiar with this Miranda?

Miranda Marquit: [00:38:35] Um, a little bit. It’s not something that’s huge on my radar.

Stacy Johnson: [00:38:39] I just learned about it the other day. Oh, it’s really not alone. First of all, it’s called home equity investment,

Miranda Marquit: [00:38:45] right?

So it’s a little bit different where people invest in your home equity and then you turn around and, uh, you’re supposed to give them a return.

Stacy Johnson: [00:38:56] Yeah, you get a, uh, essentially what happens is you


Stacy Johnson: [00:38:59] up part of your equity and they give you money. You give up part of your equity, you have to pay the money back and cer certain period of time.

There’s a company called point that does it. Uh, I would not be, I would not be a fan. You’re giving up equity. You got to pay back at a certain time and they’re going to get a percentage and what, you know, what they do, if your house is worth a million dollars, they’ll say is, they’ll say for purposes of the, uh, the infusion, the equity infusion, there it’s worth 850 grand.

So even if the, even if your million dollar houses go up at all, they’re still going to get 30% of the equity between eight 50. So I would, I would hesitate to do that unless I absolutely had to. And I would do this very complicated. I would do a lot of research.

Miranda Marquit: [00:39:38] Yeah. And I think it’s important to note too, that if something goes wrong or if the market tanks and your investors decide they want their money back, they could force you to sell the house.

Stacy Johnson: [00:39:48] Yes. That’s also true. And that’s all the questions we have for today. And I know we’re running out of time. Want to answer one quick question? You had might not have asked out there, and that is where the heck is Aaron. And the answer is that we had some technical difficulties today. Support Aaron was busy switching and could not intact contribute to our conversation very well, but he is out there and he’s listening and he has a whole bunch of stuff he probably wants to say, but he couldn’t.

So, I guess we are pretty much out of time though guys, but you know, we’re, we’re never going to be out of topic though. So dig a little deeper, like I said, you’re going to find links to lots more info in our show notes. And remember if your goal is to make more, to spend less to retire rich, your online home is money talks,

And don’t forget to check out Miranda’s online home as well. That is Miranda mark, Margaret M a R Q U I and Andrew can people find you. On the internet. Well, we’ll put you in our show notes, Andrew, in our show notes as well. So you guys can hook up with him. If you want to. If you’ve got a question, comment or topic you’d like to suggest, please tell us about it.

Email us said hello at money talks, That’s hello at money talks, And one last thing. If you appreciate what we do, do something for us. Subscribe to this podcast takes you two seconds. Can really help us. So if you like us, show us and subscribe. I want to say thank you so much to Andrew.

We really, really appreciate, appreciated your help. I’m Stacy Johnson

Miranda Marquit: [00:41:16] and I’m Miranda mark wit.

Aaron Freeman: [00:41:17] Uh, I wasn’t here at all.

Stacy Johnson: [00:41:21] There’s good old Aaron. Thanks for hanging out with this guys. We’re going to see you right here. Next time.

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