Believe it (sic) if you wish, but I normally do this:
1.) Do a search for a significant string of quoted text at which point I see the sender got it at DIGG. If you think Kevin Rose ever did anything worthwhile in his life, I guess you can use it but I happen to think DIGG encourages serious methodological errors to happen because of the way it is built. If it were human, DIGG would have every social disease known to man.
2.) Look at the story and then search for repeats in Google to see if there are any stories matching it in mainstream news. NONE. Delinpole of the Telegraph thinks there is a "greatest scandal in science ever" at least once a month because he doesn't understand how science makes progress.
3.) Go to a website I consider reliable to see if the story has been picked up and discussed. in this case:
If you read that link, you can see that there are some folks at RealClimate whose emails are in the released archive and they are very nice and normal people who have been screamed at and insulted at meetings for years by the some of the same people who show up at town hall meetings screaming stuff about the president being a alien who wants to eat our children.
Let's forget the specifics for a minute and concentrate on method and how I filter crap.
Here is a link to an article by a friend, Howard Rheingold. Howard is the guy who identified the way people in other countries were using their pagers to enable civil disobedience. Later he coined the term "flash mobs" of which you may have heard.
Please read this:
Howard has included some of my own material in this article, but it is insignificant.
It is important to note that if you compare SlashDot and DIGG, you can see that DIGG's information is essentially unfiltered. It is my belief that Rose's sense of humor is at the root of this because he is entertained by watching idiots. Slashdot has a three level filtering system attached to its ranking system that prevents morons from becoming important community members. No such protection at DIGG. That is not to say that bad stories don't get published at SlashDot, but they aren't the norm. Bad stories at DIGG are common. Why? Entertainment, not evaluation.
Howard posted a link to this totally cool Firefox extension I haven't tried yet:
One of the things he doesn't go into in the article is the ecology of information. There is a definite issue of timing that reveals a lot about the motivation behind revealing a story. Obviously pushing an event story such as a political speech or a fire resulting in death is done in the normal course of journalism as quickly as possible. But stories from researchers who normally publish in peer reviewed journals who have chosen instead to tell the newspaper FIRST are pretty common. These stories often turn out to be about poor science because the researchers' work would never make it to a reviewer's outbox.
Then there is the issue of reliability. Let's use the Huffington Post as an example. Ariannna Huffington uses a system of unpaid volunteer bloggers as a significant source of copy. She gets the benefits of inflammatory language to attract visitors and deniability against critics, plus it pays her bills. It's a win-win for her pocketbook but a huge "lose" for readers who have no crap filters.
More subtle is the think tank problem. The social ecology of think tanks is only beginning to be studied. Their social function appears to be as a source of rapid response for government committees because thinking that goes through peer review is too slow. Thus, think tanks attract academics whose work has been slow to be accepted in their own communities. Their funding comes principally from industry but is not disclosed as is required by academic journals. Danger Will Robinson!
Have you considered that the conservative sites you are visiting are deliberately publishing lies? That is another issue entirely. My own thoughts are that there are BOTH deliberate lies and paranoid delusions evident. I'm not saying there are no bad people trying to manipulate political events on the pro-global warming side. Much like the presidential elections, there are entities that fund both sides as well.
I noticed that Coca-Cola is a big mover in the global regulation scene. I would guess that it's pretty obvious they have a huge stake on account of their global distribution system and sourcing of things like sugar. But did they hire people like John Milloy to coordinate and publish lies like Exxon did? We can prove Exxon paid a network of think tank academics as "contractors" in their annual reports. Those people's utterances were picked up by a network of bloggers and low quality news sources like Fox and the Telegraph within minutes across multiple timezones which indicates there was coordination.
If you think the global warming issue had liars on both sides, you are of course correct as they are all human. But when it comes to making "fine" distinctions between people who shoplift and people who release
Next time you find something amazing that reveals the black hearts of the evil liberal climate scientists, do what I do. Run it through crap detection.