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How Public Figures Can Get Maximum Benefit From Taking the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of arrow in center of target with checkmark (mohamed1982eg/Pixabay)

You’re a public figure or organization representative who took the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Wonderful! Let’s talk about how you can get the most benefit from taking it.

Your PTP Profile

First of all, make sure that your Pro-Truth Pledge profile on the Public Figures and Organizations PTP page looks the way you want it to look. We find that people who provide a paragraph about why they took the pledge, their photographs, and links to their online venues – websites, social media, articles about them, etc. – get quite a bit more traffic from the page. Note that the website automatically puts up all the information you entered into the form in the way you entered it, without a human evaluating how it looks or ensuring the grammar structure makes sense. So if there was a typo or if some aspect of the profile wasn’t filled in correctly, it will need to be fixed manually.

Just search for your name, keeping in mind that the public figure and organization signers are in reverse chronological order. If you find a problem, or just want to flesh out your form, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to let us know, and we’ll fix it on the backend for you. We’ll try to catch obvious errors or oversights when we go through the data in occasional database cleanups, but it’s much more effective and certain if you email us yourself.

Remember, news media who are writing stories about the PTP use that page to learn about which public figures and organizations took the pledge and why they did so. Private citizens use that page to decide for which politicians to vote, from which media personalities to get their news, which authors to read, which organizations to support, and so on. Put your best foot forward by ensuring that you represent yourself well on that page.

Be Public About the Pledge

You took the pledge, so you’re already being evaluated for the truthfulness of your public statements. So be public about the fact that you took it! That both helps you get the maximum benefit from taking the pledge, and also helps create the most positive impact for promoting truth and fighting lies by making your existing followers aware of the PTP.

Please post on Facebook and on Twitter about taking the pledge. Next, add the Pro-Truth Pledge badge to your website as globally-known philosopher Peter Singer did on his website.

Caption: Screenshot of the homepage of Peter Singer’s website (Courtesy of Peter Singer)

Check out our blog with suggestions on implementing the PTP on social media. Here are some specific steps that have worked well for other public figures: please add the following statement to the “About” section of your Facebook page: “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable“ as in this example, and the same statement to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile as in this example. For your LinkedIn profile, add that you are a “Signer” of the Pro-Truth Pledge LinkedIn organization. Click the “+” button on your “Experience” section, put in “Signer” as title, choose “Pro-Truth Pledge” as the organization, put in your date of signing, and in the description state “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable.” You can add additional information about why you chose to take the pledge and/or what kind of activities you are doing to advance the pledge as well.

If you have other relevant social media venues, please add the same statement there. Please add this Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile, and this Twibbon to your Twitter profile (please mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent” as the main point of the frame is to show others that you took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for your words). Here is an example of the Facebook frame from Randy Grein, who was at the time running for a City Council position in Bellevue, WA.

Caption: Screenshot of Randy Grein’s Facebook profile with PTP Facebook Frame (Courtesy of Randy Grein)

Naturally, he had it on his campaign website page as well.

Caption: Screenshot of the homepage of Randy Grein’s website with PTP website seal (Courtesy of Randy Grein)

Does it make a difference? You bet! Here’s my Facebook message exchange with Randy Grein about the impact of him sharing about taking the PTP.

  • Randy Grein: People have been noticing. And it’s helping with the campaign. Which is as it should be, but still surprising that people value honesty.
  • Gleb Tsipursky: Wonderful to hear that people are noticing and it’s helping the campaign, great! Glad to hear it. Spread word to other political candidates about it too, encourage them to take it.
  • Randy Grein: working on it, but it may not have much effect til the next cycle. Hope you’re in it for the long term!
  • Gleb Tsipursky: Of course I am 🙂

Grein permitted me to quote him, and the full exchange is at this link for anyone who wants to see a screenshot.

If you have a blog, consider writing a thorough description of why you took the pledge, as Ed Brayton did here. If you are a radio show host like Ethan Bearman, it helps to take the pledge during a live interview to spread the word to your audience, as he did here. Alternatively, you can take the pledge and have an interview afterward with one of the pledge organizers, as podcaster Jon Willis did here. If you are part of a larger group, such as Jami Miller who is an editor at the Progressive Army news website, try to get your colleagues to take the pledge.

What about organizations? Let’s take the example of Professor Edward Maibach, who is the head of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. He took the pledge himself and tweeted about it, and took the pledge on behalf of the organization he runs, and had the organization indicate it did so by retweeting a tweet about it. He then encouraged people in his department to take the pledge.

Make it fit whatever format is best suitable to your online presence or media channels. As an example, Douglas Nix, a business leader, put it on his official contact page on his business website. Pat Lynch, the CEO of Women’s Radio Network, did a radio episode about it.

You may also be interested in getting more actively involved in the Pro-Truth Pledge virtual or in-person community. Please join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights, the 501(c)3 nonprofit running the pledge project. That group is dedicated to promotion of truth and rational thinking in politics and other life areas. After that, join this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. The Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities also has links out to local groups which you might be interested in joining in your area. On LinkedIn, join our Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates group.

Last but not least, tell other public figures you know about having taken the pledge, and invite them to join you in doing so. This offers you both more credibility as someone truth-oriented yourself, and helps promote the pledge at the same time. Here are a number of template pitches to different types of public figures, which you can adapt to your needs and relationship with each individual person you would like to invite to take the pledge.

The Pledge in Elections

The PTP has a special significance for elected officials during election campaigns. Citizens are in the process of making a choice about which candidates to trust and support with their votes, their time as volunteers, and their money as donors. Yet polling shows decreasing levels of trust in public officials.

Indeed, with the extensive amount of political deception uncovered regularly by credible fact-checking, citizens are right to feel skeptical. How can they tell apart candidates for office who spout bald-faced lies from those who actually tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? After all, the liars will lie about lying, right? You might be the most honest person in the world, but if other people can’t tell that, your honesty won’t make any difference.

Here is where taking the PTP sets you as a candidate apart from the competition. Educate your potential supporters that taking the pledge means you are being constantly evaluated for the truthfulness of your words. Tell them that anyone at any time can report on the pledge website any violation of the pledge, and it will be thoroughly investigated. Therefore, your potential constituents can trust you to stick to the facts, not only because you promise them you are truthful – any politician can do that – but also because you are held accountable.

We find it helps to use the metaphor of the pledge as the Better Business Bureau for public figures: just like the BBB holds businesses accountable to ethical business practices, the PTP holds public figures accountable for truthfulness in their public statements. Similarly, just like anyone can lodge a complaint to the BBB and a business will have to respond to a legitimate complaint, anyone can lodge a complaint to the PTP. If after initial investigation the PTP evaluators consider the complaint legitimate, the public figure will be forced to respond.

You get a particular advantage if some of the candidates you are competing with for elected office have not taken the pledge. This gives you a great opportunity to differentiate yourself by highlighting how you chose to be publicly accountable to the truth, and their opponents all choosing to not do so. You can ask why your opponents do not want to be held accountable for the truth. This can be phrased with different levels of intensity, from “I have chosen to be held accountable for the truth, unlike my opponents” to “unlike my opponents, I have chosen to be held accountable for the truth, and do not have anything to hide or lie about.” We suggest you use the more intense wording in cases where you can demonstrate they have something to hide about or are indeed lying about something.

As an example, Johny Martin, a candidate running for the Arizona House of Representatives. He wrote up a values statement about why he took the Pro-Truth Pledge, and created a graphic on his website describing himself as a “Pro-Truth Candidate” and asking potential constituents to hold him accountable.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s website where he asks potential supporters to hold him accountable (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

He takes the pledge very seriously. For example, when he made a mis-statement during a public event, he posted on Facebook later retracting the mis-statement, and citing the pledge.

Moreover, on the home page of his website, he also challenged his opponents in the race to take the Pro-Truth Pledge. He gave his supporters an easy automatic way to email his opponents challenging them to take the pledge right from his website.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s website where he asks potential supporters to call on all candidates for the Arizona house race take the pledge (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

Likewise, Martin promotes on social media the fact that he took the pledge, and makes clear that his opponents failed to do so.

Caption: Screenshot of Johny Martin’s Tweet where he highlights that he is the only candidate in his Arizona house race who took the pledge (Courtesy of Johny Martin)

 

That kind of approach to the pledge – combining being public about taking it, retracting mis-statements publicly, and challenging opponents to take the pledge – helps candidates gain the appropriate recognition for their truthful behavior, differentiates them from opponents who have chosen to avoid this commitment, while also advancing the fight against fake news and political deception through spreading word about the pledge.

In many cases, there will be a local PTP chapter that can help with boosting your message and supporting your candidacy. Get in touch with the PTP central coordinators through info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org, and they will get you in touch with a local PTP area organizer if one is in your area. As an example, they can publish letters-to-the-editor like this one in a major regional newspaper highlight the candidates in upcoming elections who took the PTP. Often, media professionals will be sympathetic to the PTP and will be willing to give specific coverage of candidates in bigger stories related to political deception. For example, here is an article in a major regional newspaper featuring the PTP and highlighting the candidates who took it. The local PTP chapter might also help you organize an email blast to all PTP signers in the area about who took the pledge for the upcoming election.

However, the more the candidates can do themselves, the better off their chances. Politicians across the country have effectively used this strategy to uplift the cause of truth, along with their own candidacy. The more they talk about this topic, the more credibility and trust they get among potential voters, and the more they can show that their competitors do not deserve trust among voters. For example, see in this article how Melissa Manrow, at the time a candidate for the Decatur City Commission, talked up the fact that she took the PTP.

Conclusion

Following the strategies outlined above will enable you to be get the maximum benefit both for your own reputation as a truth-teller and for promoting truth and fighting lies in our society. Let us know what your experience is like and what questions you have!

Pitching Public Figures and Organizations on the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Image of megaphone (OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay)

Took the Pro-Truth Pledge and want to get public figures and organizations to take it? Good plan! Let’s get it going.

Preparing to Pitch

First, check out the list of public figures and organizations who already signed the pledge. No need to do double work pitching those who already took it. You can also use that list for some inspiration of who you would like to target.

Next, decide on your goals in targeting public figures and organizations. Say your goal is to make the biggest impact with your personal efforts. Then, you should start by targeting those with whom you have a pre-existing affiliation and on whom you can make the biggest impact.

For example, you may have a strong connection with leaders of your values-based groups: church, synagogue, Sunday Assembly, secular humanist group, and others. You can talk to them individually and encourage them to take the pledge on the basis of your shared values. For getting political candidates, members of your town council or city mayor may have relatively few constituents, making your individual voice important. Likewise, candidates in the early stage of their run for a seat are most in need of support from individuals. In both cases, a simple and direct request to them to take the pledge can make a big difference. For instance, Duff Dyer went to a political event with a number of candidates, and got two to sign up on the spot.

The same applies to organizations of which you are a part, either in professional or civic life. For example, Enrique Lescure took the Pro-Truth Pledge himself. Then, as the Board of Directors of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, he worked internally to move the organization to take the pledge. Colleen Dempsey, who serves in a leadership role in the civic activism organization Yes We Can Columbus, similarly worked over the course of several months to get the organization to commit to the pledge. She was successful, with the outcome that this organization promised to support only those political candidates who took the pledge. The five candidates endorsed by the organization in the 2017 election cycle all took it as a group. You can pursue the same course with your own efforts.

Alternatively, you may choose a goal of addressing the very low level of trust that Americans have in the mass media. In that case, you might specifically target journalists, talk show hosts, and other media representatives for your pitching.

You can also decide that your goal is both to pitch public figures and organizations, while also building community with other Pro-Truth movement members. In that case, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to get connected to other people in your area focused on pitching. You can also request to be connected to the PTP Targeting Committee, the central committee within the Pro-Truth movement devoted to such pitching. It collaborates virtually with members across the globe, so you can participate from anywhere without leaving your home.

Research

If you decide to do pitching as part of a broader group, then you will discuss with them what tasks you want to focus on as part of a team effort. If so, you can pick out various strategies described in this blog as part of your work. However, note that the rest of this blog will presume you are doing pitching by yourself.

The first thing to do is conduct research on the public figures and organizations you want to target. Generally speaking, your target should be an individual, not an organization: even if you want to get an organization or group to commit to the pledge, you would want to target individuals within it first. You can consider either a non-public figure in the organization who is sympathetic to your goals, or a public figure such as an organizational leader. Find the contact information for the public figure you want to target, whether it’s a politician, journalist, or other public figure. Then, find out a bit of information about that figure that might be relevant to the pledge.

Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for first and last name for the person you are targeting, their organizational affiliation, contact information, social media and online presence, notes on the person, and notes on your pitching. While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to target the same individual, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

What about the process of doing research? Google is always your friend, but make sure to check social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

While there’s no single way to find all public figures, there’s a standardized way to find politicians. For US federal elected officials (Senators and House of Representatives members), click on this link. Then, scroll down just a bit, and on the bottom left, you will see a drop-down menu in the bottom that says “Enter state or zip” enter your state (we strongly recommend writing to everyone in your state, not simply your own congressperson), or your zip if you only want to contact your elected representatives. If you enter your state, you will see your state’s page with a menu on the top. Click on the second button from the left on the menu, which states “Delegation.” Now, you can click on each individual person, and find that person’s email/contact page, Facebook, and Twitter. For contacting members of your state legislature and local officials, check out the directions at this link.

Finally, if you are part of a group of people in your locale researching public figures and organizations to pitch, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about prospects to pitch to people who engage in pitching. That way, you can divide the research and pitching activities into separate roles. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do pitching.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of pitching. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do pitching, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I remember a PTP Advocate telling me he came out of his shell through PTP activism that included pitching public figures. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research and also those doing pitching. There are a number of people who commit to doing these activities, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do them, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct the PTP activites they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

Pitching

Ok, you did your research, and are ready to pitch. How do you do it?

Easy! We have a wide variety of pitches prepared in this Google Drive folder for you to use. When you contact someone, use all the communication methods you have been able to find.

For example, say you are pitch a politician. If you find their email, which is ideal, send them a message adapted from this template, and for contact form only, this template. Then, for their Facebook page, send them a message using this template, and then for their Twitter, tweet them a message using this template. You can adapt each of these to indicate you are a constituent if relevant and other adaptation that you would like, for instance relating to specific issues you are concerned, or a speech or public statement made by a politician. You do not have to be a constituent to contact a politician, of course, but it helps.

When pitching a generic public figure, here’s an email template, and a contact form template. Media figures often share their emails, so here’s an email template for media figures. So do academics, and here’s an email template to use for them. Use this template for the Facebook Page of generic public figures, and this template for Twitter.

Now, you can also meet and pitch public figures in person. For non-politicians, use the script informed by the email templates. For elected officials or candidates, along with using the script, we also recommend bringing along the information of all the people who have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge in that politician’s region if it’s a regional politician, or country if it’s a national-level politician, since part of signing the pledge involves calling on one’s elected representatives to sign the pledge. We make that information available only for people who are area organizers or members of the PTP Targeting Committee, for the sake of data security, so if you are one of these people, get in touch with one of your contacts from the PTP Central Coordination Committee for that information. Ideally, you would also bring along a PTP sign-up binder with some sample signatures, or at least photos of signatures. The binder provides demonstrable proof that signatures were gathered, while the spreadsheet provides the total number of actual signatures.

Note that politicians – or their staff, who you will likely be talking to if it’s a high-level political figure – will likely want you to leave them with some physical presence of the number of people who signed the PTP. What you can do is print out a photograph of one page of a sign-up sheet, as physical proof of signature-gathering, along with printing out the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who signed the PTP in that region or country. You can then leave it with the politician or their staff, along with a flyer with the text of the PTP.

Then for each public figure you contact, fill out this form, and in the “Any relevant notes,” note that you have contacted this person. That way, we can keep a clear track record of the politicians who are contacted, and circle back around to them later, referencing the first contact. It’s really important and helpful to do so in order to ensure successful pitches, so please do help us out on this one!

Caption: Meme saying “Help a brother out” (Created by blog author via Memecrunch.com)

Following Up, Filling Out

Set yourself a reminder to follow up in two weeks to check whether they received your communication. Public figures have a lot of people contacting them, and they may lose track of individual contact efforts. If you hear nothing within two weeks, send them an email or contact form saying something like “Dear [first name, last name], wanted to confirm you received my previous email/contact form message about the Pro-Truth Pledge. Thanks!” Now set yourself a reminder to follow up in a week. If they don’t respond, and you have their voicemail, give them a call and leave a voicemail asking if they received your message. If still no response, let it go.

Now, if you hear back from the public figure and they want more information, great! That means they’re interested. They are usually too busy to look through the Frequently Asked Questions, and will likely have misconceptions. So use the FAQs on the front page of the website to address their questions. If you’re not sure about something, email info [at] protruthpledge [dot] org to clarify any point of confusion.

Sometimes, the public figure will agree to take the pledge, but be too busy to put in their information themselves. Some others are not computer-savvy. They will tell you to just add their name to the pledge. No problem: use their publicly available information to fill out the pledge for them. Make sure they did indicate a definite desire to take the pledge, versus just saying “oh, this pledge thing sounds like a good idea, people should take it.” If you’re not sure, double-check with them whether they’re ok with you putting in their name. Better safe than sorry!

If they do agree, and take the pledge, remind them of the next steps to fill out their profile. Encourage them to get the full benefit of being recognized as publicly committing to truth-oriented behaviors. To do so, remind them to post on Facebook and on Twitter about taking the pledge. Next, encourage them to add the Pro-Truth Pledge website badge to their website as Peter Singer did on his website. Suggest they add this Facebook Frame to their Facebook personal profile and their Facebook oage, and this Twibbon to their Twitter profile (remind them to mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent” as the main point of the frame is to show others that they took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for their words: if they want to use other frames, they can use them on top of or in addition to the Pro-Truth Pledge frame). Also, please encourage them to add the following statement to the “About” section of their Facebook page: “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable,“ and the same statement to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile, and the same statement to their LinkedIn account.

Check to make sure they filled in their full profile on the Pro-Truth Pledge public figures and organizations page. Remind them that people who provide a paragraph about why they took the pledge, their photograph, and links to their online venues – websites, social media, articles about them, etc. – get quite a bit more traffic from the page. They can send their additional information to email info [at] protruthpledge [dot].

Let them know that to learn more about the Pro-Truth Pledge and the nonprofit that runs it, Intentional Insights, they are welcomed to read this link with information about it. To get involved with the Pro-Truth Pledge community, they can join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights as a whole, dedicated to promotion of truth and rational thinking in politics and other life areas. We also welcome them to join this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. Anything that has to do with the pledge specifcally and directly is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge advocates FB group. The Intentional Insights broad group is for content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas. The Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities also has links out to local groups which they might be interested in joining in their area. We find that a number of public figures like to get involved in such online venues.

Be gentle but persistent about these steps unless they state they do not want to do something: back off at that point. Much of the time, we find that public figures do eventually take these steps, they just need a lot of reminders. They are busy people, so help them make a bigger impact for truth-oriented behavior through reminding them to take all of these steps. Each of these steps is optimized to both encourage the public figure to be more truth-oriented themselves through increasing their commitment to the pledge, and for the public figure to spread truth-oriented behavior through spreading information about the pledge.

At a later point in time, circle back with them about their experience with the pledge. If they had a good experience, encourage them to tell other public figures to take the pledge. For example, Randy Grein, a politician, took the PTP and put the website seal on his website, as well as adding the Facebook Frame to his profile. In a Facebook conversation with me, he told me “People have been noticing. And it’s helping with the campaign. Which is as it should be, but still surprising that people value honesty.” I responded “Wonderful to hear that people are noticing and it’s helping the campaign, great! Glad to hear it. Spread word to other political candidates about it too, encourage them to take it.”

Caption: Screenshot of author’s conversation with Randy Grein (Courtesy of blog author)

Now, if you pitched a public figure who is in an organization, you will want to follow up later and encourage the public figure to move the whole organization to take the pledge.

That’s our experience on effective methods of pitching public figures and following up. What’s your experience like, and what questions do you have?

Public Speaking About the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Agnes Vishnevkin speaking at a rally about the Pro-Truth Pledge (Courtesy of Agnes Vishnevkin)

Are you interested in doing public speaking about the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)? Doing so is a very effective means of spreading the word and getting people to sign up.So what’s actually involved in public speaking about the pledge?

Preparation for Public Speaking

Giving a speech about the pledge requires being prepared. Such preparation involves both developing skills and mental comfort in giving speeches, specific content knowledge about the pledge, and the actual materials for your speech.

To develop skills and mental comfort requires practice. The biggest stumbling block to getting such practice stems from anxiety about public speaking. Fortunately, there are many effective techniques to address speaking anxiety that I describe in this article.

After overcoming anxiety, and doing some practice, you can go on to give presentations. If you’ve never given a public speech in your life, you can start speaking to a room of 10 to 20 people, to build up your comfort zone. There are many low-stakes venues eager to host speakers on the Pro-Truth Pledge. Then, you can go on to larger and more high-profile venues.

What about specific content knowledge? Being familiar with the pledge and the Frequently Asked Questions, which are on the homepage of the website, is important. So is familiarity with the broader Pro-Truth movement, as described in this outline.

Finally, the speech itself. Different audiences require different speeches, and we have all kinds of materials you might need to prepare your speech in the public Google Drive folder. You might be asked to give a rally speech, and you can use these three examples of videotaped speeches (1, 2, 3), and this text of a speech. You might be asked to give a virtual presentation, as in this videotaped example and this PowerPoint Presentation. Perhaps you will be giving a presentation at a service club, such as Rotary International: here’s a PowerPoint used at one such presentation. Use the materials in that folder to adapt the speech to your audience.

Research Speaking Opportunities

Ok, you feel reasonably ready. Now what?

Now, find speaking opportunities! Look first for low-stakes opportunities in communities and organizations of which you are a part. Are you a member of a Toastmasters group? Do you belong to a values-based community? Do you have an active community in your apartment building co-op or neighborhood? What about a learning group at work? Offer to give them a speech about the pledge! The comfort of presenting to that audience will help you stretch and grow.

Next, easy opportunities to speak on the Pro-Truth Pledge are at local political clubs. For example, there are many political party clubs: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and others. Many areas have political actions groups not tied to a party, but just promoting various causes or simply civic activism or voter rights. Service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and others have a need for speakers every week or so. Senior centers regularly host speakers. So do science and philosophy clubs, and libraries do as well. Some values-based groups welcome outside speakers, especially if you belong to that value system. So if you happen to be Episcopalian and there are several Episcopal churches in town, or where you are travelling, try to arrange a presentation there. Some values-based groups such as secular humanist groups or Unitarian Universalist churches are quite open to speakers outside their values system, so investigate those in particular.

To find these places, Google is your friend. Here is the result for a search “senior centers near me” in Google without quotation marks; here is the result for “service clubs near me,” also without quotation marks; here is the result for “political clubs near me,” same deal about quotation marks. Another friend is Meetup.com: use it to look for meetups relevant to politics and social activism. The category “movement” meetups, as in this link, can prove useful. See if an established meetup wants you to give a talk.

Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for the name of the organization offering the speaking opportunity; the name and contact information, ideally including both phone and email, of the person(s) in charge of selecting speakers for the speaking opportunity; brief description of the speaking opportunity itself; likely audience; why the opportunity would be a good fit for the PTP; links relevant to the speaking opportunity (the more, the better); description of interactions with person(s) selecting speakers; finally, general notes.

While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to help them do speaking in this area, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

A part of doing research is evaluating whether a particular venue is actually interested in a speech about the PTP. Here is a generic template pitch you can send, and here is a template targeting a local area event. Adapt it to your own needs and the specifics of the venue. For example, if you are targeting a science club, emphasize the behavioral science nature of the pledge. If you are targeting a service club, talk about the positive social impact of creating a more truth-oriented world, and for Rotary clubs in particular, describe how the Pro-Truth Pledge aligns with the Rotary Four-Way Test.

If you are part of a group of people in your locale researching public speaking events, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about events to people who engage in public speaking. That way, you can divide the research from other aspects of public speaking. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do public speaking.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of social activities. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do public speaking, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I know one PTP Advocate who is doing public speaking in part because he wants to improve his skills in this arena. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Likewise, consider a division of responsibilities in doing pitching. If you have several speakers in the area, let one pitch a few places, and someone else pitch a few others. Then, from the places they don’t hear back, let another person pitch it. Sometimes, it’s the presenter more than the content that matters. For example, a service club might be more interested in a presentation from a business professional than a political activist, while a political club might have the opposite preference. You can also have a specific person doing pitching of several speakers to a single venue: for example, I pitched a Rotary club in Columbus with the option of either a professor or a business professional doing a speech on the PTP, and they chose the latter.

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research, pitching, and speaking. There are a number of people who commit to doing these activities, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do research, pitching, or speaking, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct what they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

Gearing up for the Speech

Your pitch worked: someone wants you to speak about the Pro-Truth Pledge! What do you do now?

At this point, figure out the logistics. Send them well in advance all the materials they will need for marketing, which will likely involve a brief description of the speech, your bio, and how you want to be introduced at the speech itself. Get clarity on when the event is, how long in advance you should arrive, whether they or you will provide the equipment and handouts. Ask for accurate directions to the event, both getting there and parking, and how to get from the parking lot to the event, and also get the event planner’s emergency contact number. Try to get them to videotape you if at all possible.

You might be working with an excellent event planner who will ask you for everything in advance and give you all the information you need, or an inexperienced one who is just starting their job and will require a lot of hand-holding from you. Make sure you are ready to provide that hand-holding: it’s your job to make sure the speech goes as well as possible as opposed to just leaving it all in the hands of the event planner. So jump in and guide the event planner if you don’t get the things you need in advance.

Then, use the strategies described above to adapt your speech to the venue. After that, practice the speech several times until you are very comfortable with it. Also, consider what kind of questions you might get if the event involves a Q&A session. Here’s a videotaped virtual Q&A about the pledge that you can use to get ideas for the kind of questions people raise, and you can also watch the Q&A at the end of this videotaped presentation. Practice answering such questions.

Here’s a pro tip: if you have a short speech scheduled, such as 10 to 20 minutes, followed by a Q&A, you can choose to avoid covering some topics in the speech and say you will leave them for the Q&A. For instance, you can say in your speech that “the Pro-Truth Pledge has a thorough system of holding public figures and organizations accountable, and if anyone is interested in knowing more about how it works, ask me in the Q&A.” That way, you can get the kind of questions you want in that time. Another pro tip: get other PTP Advocates to gather signatures, especially if it’s a sizable audience. It gives the PTP extra legitimacy to have more than one person representing it.

The Day Before the Speech

The day before the speech, make sure to get a lot of rest. Prepare all of your materials the day beforehand. Know what you will wear: aim to wear something that is slightly above the level you expect your audience to wear. For instance, if you expect they will wear dressy casual, wear business casual. If it’s appropriate to do so, wear a PTP shirt, such as I did at this rally: political clubs and groups, as well as any sort of rally event, is generally the right place to do so.

Prepare and take any equipment that you might need. If you are going to be using a PowerPoint Presentation, take extra equipment just in case, such as your laptop, a charging cable and extension for your laptop, a VGA cable to connect the laptop to their projector and a dongle if your laptop needs it, a remote control for changing slides and batteries for the remote control, and small speakers if you will use sound. The organization hosting you might say they will provide any or all of these, but it’s really better safe than sorry: rely on yourself first and foremost.

Put in an audiorecorder app on your smartphone and know how to use it. Generally the quality of audio on video recordings is poor, unless you have a separate mike devoted solely to recording you for the video. This is why a separate audio recording is needed to make a quality video.

Get ready any personal items that you might need. Take a full bottle of water, both to have before the speech, and top it off to drink during the speech. Grab some high-energy food such as nuts or protein bars: even if they offer to feed you, their food might not be to your liking. If you wear glasses, bring an extra pair, just in case. Bring some meds for headache, stomach pain, and anything else that might be salient. Lip balm, throat lozenges and mints, hairbrush, skin moisturizer, tissues, lint brush, deodorant, and other personal hygiene items particular to your needs are also helpful. I generally don’t bring a hairbrush, for example, as I wear a very short haircut, but I do bring along anti-anxiety medications as I suffer from social anxiety: adapt these suggestions to your needs.

For materials to take to the speech, make sure to take your notes, if you have any. If you are speaking to a professional audience, bring along some PTP business cards to give away to audience members interested in materials to hand out to others who they think might be interested. If you are speaking in a non-professional context, bring along some PTP fliers for the same purpose.

When you are giving a speech in a context where there is no long Q&A (15 minutes or more) at the end and/or the audience is large, make sure to bring along one-page PTP descriptions and sign-up sheets, enough for each audience member. Collect them afterwards, and scan or take photos of each, and send them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org. If you have a guarantee of a Q&A that is longer than 15 minutes, and the audience is less than 30, you can use a PTP binder or clipboard and pass it around to gather signatures during the Q&A. This link provides all the instructions you will need to create a PTP binder, and all the materials for the binder are at this link. If you are just using a clipboard, here is a PTP sign-up sheet. Print all of these materials out ahead of time. Don’t rely on the venue to have them ready if you can do it yourself.

DO NOT assume that people will go to the website after you gave your speech. Our experience is that even after a great speech, people get distracted and forget their good intention to sign up. It’s like asking them to sign up to a newsletter without giving them a sign-up sheet on the spot: they are very unlikely to sign up later. If circumstances conspire against you and there is no way you can bring a sign-up sheet, have a 1-minute pause after the end of your speech and before the Q&A to give people time to sign up on their smart phones. If you have no Q&A, build a pause into your speech for them to sign up.

The Main Event: Giving the Speech

On the day of the speech, arrive to your venue early. If you don’t have electronics, arrive 30-45 minutes early. If you do have electronics, arrive 45-60 minutes early. The bigger the audience, the earlier you should arrive.

First thing to do is meet the local organizer(s) of the talk, and the technician(s). Be polite and friendly, and check whether they carried through on their commitments. If they forgot anything, do the magic trick of taking it out of your briefcase, or going back to your car for whatever is needed. Talk through the schedule of events if the program includes anything besides your speech. Double-check on the length of the talk and Q&A and the style of how the Q&A is usually moderated: I strongly recommend avoiding taking questions during the speech itself unless absolutely necessary. Make sure the person who will be introducing you has the correct text for the introduction. Work our a system to signal any problems during the presentation.

Prepare and set everything up to your needs and satisfaction. Test the audio, slides, Internet, and anything else you need. Make sure the podium is set up well for your needs. Walk the stage and get comfortable with it.

Then, take care of the audience. Adjust the room, such as lighting, curtains, seating, temperature, and other needs, to optimize audience impact and comfort during your talk. To help you do so, take a seat in different parts of the audience space, and see how it feels. Is there sunlight shining directly into the eyes of audience members that would distract them? Is the loudspeaker located too close to a section of the audience? Address these problems.

Put a copy of the one-page PTP descriptions and sign-up sheet on each chair, or deputize someone to do it for you. If you plan to pass a binder or clipboard, ask someone to do it at an appropriate signal from you. Check with the organizer on whether it’s common for people to leave between the talk and Q&A: if so, you’ll want to make sure to pass around the binder or clipboard, or ask people to sign the one-page PTP sign-up sheet, well in advance of when people usually start leaving.

If you are extroverted or simply have sufficient energy, greet people who come into the room. Chat to them about the topic of the presentation. You get extra brownie points if you work what they say into the speech, as in “Bob said he’s really concerned about the misinformation surrounding climate change” or “Susy’s really worried about all conservatives being painted with a broad brush as racist” and then leading into how that connects with the PTP. As someone who is introverted, I usually do mindfulness meditation before giving speeches, but do make sure to take some time to chat a bit with audience members. A few minutes before the speech, use the restroom (pro tip: if you’re already wearing a wireless microphone, turn off the sound). Do calming activities to get yourself ready. Turn on the audiorecorder on your phone.

Now, the speech. You’ve practiced it plenty of times already: this is game time. If you haven’t given many speeches before, you’re likely to be anxious. That will cause you to speak quickly. Don’t do that. The audience’s first impression is really important, so focus extra hard on getting those first couple of minutes right. Make yourself relatable to the audience by thanking them for coming, and by drawing a connection between who they are and the PTP. Then, deliver the speech. Keep an eye on the clock: I use my smartphone as a timer, or you might bring a separate timer device if you prefer. Also record your speech on your own smartphone, and hopefully the hosts will videotape you: you can also get another PTP advocate to videotape your speech.

The highlight of the speech should be the call to action, namely the request that they sign the PTP. Make it passionate and relatable. Share your own commitment to the PTP: why you did it, why you believe it matters, and why we need as many people to sign it as possible. Appeal to the identity of your audience, and show them how their own values should impel them to sign the pledge. Whip up enthusiasm around the promise of the Pro-Truth movement as a whole as you make the call to action, showing the audience the dangers of the current situation and the promise of a better future if the Pro-Truth Pledge becomes widespread.

During the Q&A, avoid back-and-forth discussions with audience members. Some may be skeptical, and your goal is not to convince the skeptics. You simply give them the information, and they can choose what to do with it. Avoid arguing: fortunately, you have the power of the stage. If they are insistent, you can tell them to take out their smartphone and look up the FAQs on the website, which have links to a number of articles about the pledge. You can also tell them that they can contact the PTP organizers through the website, who can answer their questions in more depth. If someone starts getting ornery, say “thanks for sharing your thoughts: does anyone else have questions” or something in that style. You would be missing out on important and valuable questions that people might have that might be preventing them from signing the pledge. By helping address their concerns, you are getting more people excited and eager to sign up.

After the speech and the Q&A, stay around. A number of people may be excited to talk to you, whether to get involved or talk further about the effectiveness of the pledge. Again, avoid talking to ornery people if there are others around who might be interested in the pledge. If you personally like a good argument, you can then talk to the ornery person, but remember you are under no obligation to do so. You just gave a speech: you deserve to relax! For those who are excited about getting involved, ask them if they’d like to help gather signatures or make a donation. If so, take their contact information, and give it to the local area organizer, or to someone from the PTP Central Coordination Committee. If they want to donate cash on the spot, you should write them a receipt.

At political clubs especially, you will have a substantial chance of running into public figures, such as politicians or reporters. Remember to ask them to provide you with a business card for the PTP central organizers to input their public information into the website. We will also follow up with them about a pledge statement they may want sent around to pledge-takers and hosted on the PTP Public Figures and Organizations page.

After you finish chatting – which you should do to the extend your energy level permits – gather up the one-page sign-up forms or binder/clipboard. Also, get the videotape of your session. Then, if the hosts asked you to attend a social event afterward, consider doing so, again based on your energy level.

Now Bring It Home

So you come home after the excitement of the speech. What next?

You might be thrilled to input the signatures you gathered into the PTP website. If so, great: here are the directions on doing so.

However, your skills and interests might be less in data entry than in other PTP areas. Worry not! We have volunteers who are excited about inputting people into the website. Just scan or take nice-quality photos of the signatures, and email them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org.

Next, get your videotaped speech and the audio recording from your phone. Send the video and audio to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org and we will put it together for you and put it on the Youtube channel for Intentional Insights, and promote it via the PTP social media, unless you prefer us not to do so. If you only have an audio recording for some reason, send it in as well, and we will put it on the Intentional Insights podcast.

After you do all that, refill the supply of materials, such as one-page sign-up sheets and others, which you used up. Then, check your calendar for the next speaking opportunity and prepare everything you might need for that.

After the video is ready, watch your video and consider if you can make any improvements in your delivery next time. If you only have an audio recording for some reason, listen to yourself to try to improve. Get feedback from other speakers for the PTP on delivery improvement suggestions.

Let us know your experience and any questions you might have!

Financial Support for Pro-Truth Pledge Activities

Caption: Image of money in the shape of a heart (Petr Kratochvil/PublicDomainPictures.net)

You’re excited about doing Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) activism but financial challenges are blocking your way? What if you’re a “broke-ass college student” as one PTP volunteer told me? No worries, we got you covered.

Generous donors for the PTP have offered to cover some basic costs of anyone interested in doing activism, but having financial difficulties hindering their volunteering efforts (no donations from the Koch brothers or George Soros as of yet). You can get up to $20 per month reimbursed for such costs as printing materials and purchasing and putting together a binder to help gather signatures, or getting PTP-themed business cards, and similar material costs.

Separately, you can get up to $20 for costs associated with participating in an event, such as gas, paying for parking, price of entry, and other costs when you are doing PTP activism: gathering signatures, giving a speech, . You can also get up to $20 for event-themed costs, such as making a PTP sign for visibility at an event such as a march or political rally.

If you can get a table at a promising community or political event, we can reimburse up to $100 for the table if you can commit to arranging for yourself or someone else to be present for at least three-fourths of the event (we trust you to pick relevant events). We will also reimburse up to $15 off the costs of PTP-themed merchandise, to ensure your visibility at events. We will consider other reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis.

Caption: Ken Whitaker at the Hispanic Heritage Parade & Street Festival in Utah. A regular booth there costs $175, but a nonprofit one costs $100. Since the PTP is run by the nonprofit Intentional Insights, it cost $100 to get a booth there. The $100 was sponsored by PTP donors through the mechanism described in this blog (Courtesy of Ken Whitaker)

To get reimbursements, or consideration of case-by-case requests for funding, first email [email protected] and describe your financial need: no need to provide documentation, just describe your situation in a paragraph, and get confirmation of approval. After that, just email [email protected] with the receipt for the purchase of the materials/binder, parking or travel by Lyft/Uber/Taxi/public transport or approximate gas money, or the approximate cost of paper and ink if you are printing at home, and any other expenses in similarity to these. Also explain what you used this money to pay for, so we can keep a clear track of reasons for expenditures, and a scan or clear photographs of all the signatures you gathered.

Finally, please provide a PayPal account to which we can transfer the money (this is currently our only means of reimbursement – for setting up a PayPal account, which you can do with any credit or debit card, see this link). Ideally, you would let us know ahead of time, but after an event or expense is also fine as long as it falls within the categories described above: we will not be able to reimburse case-by-case requests after you made the purchase if you did not get prior approval. We trust all PTP advocates to avoid abusing this system (after all, you signed the Pro-Truth Pledge yourself), and only use this as needed per your financial difficulties arranging for these needs otherwise.

What can we help you clarify about the reimbursement process?

Signature-Gathering for the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Carl Baker tabling at a March for Science 04/17 event, where he got over 60 Pro-Truth Pledge sign-ups (Courtesy of Carl Baker)

Great to hear that you want to gather signatures for the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP)! In-person signature-gathering is one of the most effective methods of getting more people to sign up.

We regularly have people gather 20-40 signatures when they are doing canvassing, meaning gathering signatures while walking around an event or standing in a well-travelled venue. We have people gather 50-70 names when tabling, meaning when the PTP secures a table at an appropriate event. You can make a big difference by canvassing and tabling to fight lies and protect truth through promoting the PTP.

Preparing for Gathering Signatures

We have all the basic materials you need for gathering signatures.

Start by ordering some PTP merchandise, such as a shirt, hat, or tote bag, to make yourself visible and convey your message. Many people will see it and be impacted by it, checking out the PTP even if they don’t talk to you.

For example, Agnes Vishnevkin (the Vice President of Intentional Insights, the nonprofit organization leading the PTP project, and my wife) told me how when she went to a store carrying a PTP tote bag, she was approached by someone who wanted to know what the pledge was all about. If one person is bold enough to approach and ask, you better believe that dozens if not hundreds more took out their phone and went to the website!

Caption: PTP tote bag of the kind Agnes took to the store (Courtesy of Pro-Truth Pledge website)

It takes the merchandise a couple of weeks to arrive, but you certainly don’t have to wait for it to get there in order to start gathering signatures! So let’s talk about getting your paperwork in order. At this link is a Google Document folder with fliers, a sign-up form, the text of the PTP itself and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and plenty of other materials, along with instructions to make a binder for people to sign the PTP.

The binder is really important, as it makes it very convenient for you to carry around everything you will need to get signatures. This link provides all the instructions you will need to create a PTP binder. The supplies include a white 3-ring binder (1” or 1.5”) with a clear cover and an inside pocket, dividers to separate the contents of the binder, and a 3-hole punch. You can get the supplies at any drug or office store near you. Then, the printed materials include flyers, the text of the PTP, the FAQs, sign-up sheets, and optionally business cards. If you don’t have a printer at home, use a local public library or copy/print store to print the supplies, and you can access a 3-hole punch in the same venue. In that case, print out several hundred flyers and fifty sign-up sheets at once to avoid having the extra hassle of going to the store again when you run out.

The binder provides you with the basics you will need to gather signatures when either canvassing or tabling. When canvassing, you’ll just walk around or stand in place, hand out flyers to people from your binder, and ask them to sign the pledge. When tabling, you will take out the flyers, the PTP text, the FAQs, the sign-up sheets, and if you have them business cards, and spread them out on a table. For tabling, you can also get two clipboards, as you will likely get more than one person interested at once, and you don’t want to make them wait. To come back to the tote bag, it’s pretty convenient for carrying your binder and clipboards.

Caption: Picture of PTP binder with clipboards for tabling (Courtesy of Agnes Vishnevkin)

Financial Challenges? No Problem!

Now what if you’re excited about gathering signatures, but have financial challenges purchasing merchandise, printing materials, and buying binders? What if you’re a “broke-ass college student” as one PTP volunteer told me? No worries, we got that covered.

Generous donors for the PTP have offered to cover the signature-gathering costs of anyone interested in gathering signatures, but having financial difficulties hindering their volunteering efforts (no donations from the Koch brothers or George Soros as of yet). You can get up to $20 per month reimbursed for such costs as printing materials and purchasing a binder. Separately, you can get up to $20 for costs associated with participating in an event, such as gas, paying for parking, price of entry. You can also get up to $20 for event-themed costs, such as making a PTP sign for visibility at an event such as a march or political rally.

If you can get a table at a promising community or political event, we can reimburse up to $100 for the table if you can commit to arranging for yourself or someone else to be present for at least three-fourths of the event (we trust you to pick relevant events). We will also reimburse up to $15 off the costs of PTP-themed merchandise, to ensure your visibility at events. We will consider other reimbursement requests on a case-by-case basis.

To get reimbursements, or consideration of case-by-case requests for funding, first email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org and describe your financial need: no need to provide documentation, just describe your situation in a paragraph, and get confirmation of approval. After that, just email finance [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org with the receipt for the purchase of the materials/binder, parking or travel by Lyft/Uber/Taxi/public transport or approximate gas money, or the approximate cost of paper and ink if you are printing at home, and any other expenses in similarity to these. Also explain what you used this money to pay for, so we can keep a clear track of reasons for expenditures, and a scan or clear photographs of all the signatures you gathered.

Finally, please provide a PayPal account to which we can transfer the money (this is currently our only means of reimbursement – for setting up a PayPal account, which you can do with any credit or debit card, see this link). Ideally, you would let us know ahead of time, but after an event or expense is also fine as long as it falls within the categories described above: we will not be able to reimburse case-by-case requests after you made the purchase if you did not get prior approval. We trust all PTP advocates to avoid abusing this system (after all, you signed the Pro-Truth Pledge yourself), and only use this as needed per your financial difficulties arranging for these needs otherwise.

Researching Signature-Gathering Venues

So you’ve got your binder, and your PTP merchandise is on the way. Now what?

Now, it’s research time! Find promising political or community events, or a spot with heavy foot traffic. Do your research in an organized manner. For best results, use your computer, not phone, to conduct research if possible. Create a spreadsheet with a section for event date, name, links (Facebook event link, website link, and any other relevant links, the more the better), reasons for why this might be a good event for PTP signature gathering, likely audience, registration info (if relevant/available), notes on event organizer interaction, and any other general notes about the event. Use the same spreadsheet for spots with heavy foot traffic, just put good times to go to the spot for “event time,” such as “10-5 on weekdays, 1-5 on weekends” to indicate library hours. While some people prefer to use pen and paper for such research, there’s a good reason to use spreadsheets. You might end up sharing the spreadsheet later with others to help them do signature-gathering, and you don’t want to type these things up after you already wrote them out. Another good reason is that we provided this template spreadsheet for you to use: just click on “File” and then “Make a Copy” and you have a perfect spreadsheet for yourself to use for doing research.

For heavy foot traffic locations, many places will do. If you’re near a university or college, or a high school, there’s usually a number of central spots where people congregate. Library entrances, for public or college libraries, are another good spot. These tend to be the best venues, since people are usually in a mental state oriented toward ideas and education there. Another good spot might be a square or park where people are hanging out, and any other area where people congregate in a relaxed mood. Watch where other people gather signatures, as those are likely to be good places.

The nice thing about such spots is that you can go on your own time. You can do a half-hour of signature-gathering before work, take an extended lunch break to get some signatures, or go after work to canvass the adult learners who go to college after finishing their day job. The challenge with such spots is that you can’t be confident about the extent of foot traffic on any given day. If you plan ahead and go to a political or community event, you will be more certain of finding a willing audience.

For either political or community events, Google is your friend. I live in Columbus, OH, so for the former, I would simply put into Google “political events Columbus Ohio” (without the quotation marks) and here are the results. As you can see, there is an extensive list of local political events from which I can choose. The same goes for a Google search for “community events Columbus Ohio,” which brings up a similarly extensive list. If you are in a less well-populated area, search for political or community events in your county or region. Another friend is Meetup.com: use it to look for meetups relevant to politics and social activism. The category “movement” meetups, as in this link, can prove useful.

The next step is filtering. Not all political events will be equally appropriate for signature-gathering. For example, a candlelight vigil is not a good place to gather signatures, while a rally is a great place. A March may be really good if it includes a rally, but not if it’s just a March without a rally. A town hall meeting would be a so-so place to gather signatures from private citizens, but would be great to put politicians on the spot and ask them to sign or publicly refuse to do so.

Caption: Chad Eckerd wearing a PTP shirt he got in preparation for doing canvassing (Courtesy of Chad Eckerd)

For the vast majority of rallies, conferences, and other large public events you don’t need to get permission to gather signatures. In some cases, rallies and conferences allow you to purchase a tabling spot or simply bring and set up a foldable table. You should take advantage of that opportunity, as it increases the perception of legitimacy among event attendees and also makes you more visible: gathering signatures in that situation is quite a bit more effective.

For smaller events that are semi-public in nature, you should email or call the organizers in advance, let them know that you want to come and gather signatures for the pledge, and ask them if that would be a concern for them. Smaller events include meetings of local Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and other party clubs; meetings and trainings of supporters of various causes, such as environmentalism, tax reform, free speech, and so on; conferences devoted to specific politically-relevant topics. It is very rare that we heard any concerns. In fact, often the organizers would give you a few minutes to speak about the Pro-Truth Pledge and why the attendees of the event should take it. In that case, tailor your remarks to the specific audience with whom you are engaging.

What about community events? The larger ones that work best tend to be events that are not paid and have a theme beyond simple entertainment. For example, state fairs have not worked out well in terms of getting signatures. More successful were community events centered around the Pride March, Earth Day, Labor Day, July 4, and similar thematic events. That way, when you present the PTP binder, you can tie in the theme of the day to truth in public discourse, making people more likely and eager to sign.

Note that some large community events are large enough that they offer tables or booths to nonprofits. Since you represent a nonprofit – Intentional Insights is a 501(c)3 educational and nonpartisan nonprofit and the Pro-Truth Pledge is its civic engagement project – you can use that nonprofit status to secure a booth or table, often for free or at a reduced fee.

Caption: Ken Whitaker at the Hispanic Heritage Parade & Street Festival in Utah. A regular booth there costs $175, but a nonprofit one costs $100. The $100 was sponsored by PTP donors (Courtesy of Ken Whitaker)

There are also a host of smaller community events that can be great venues to gather signatures for communities in which you participate. If you are a member of a church, secular group, or other values-based community, bring the PTP binder to various social events in the community. For example, a coffee hour after worship service in a church or a presentation by a speaker in a secular group is a great time to gather signatures. Do the same if you are a member of a walking club, a choir group, a reading club, or a service club such as Rotary or Kiwanis. Depending on the norms within such communities, you might consider letting the organizers know about your plans and asking them to let you know if they might have concerns (which is quite unlikely). In fact, a well-organized and large community might have specific areas for signature-gathering and similar activities by members. A block party or neighborhood party can be a great chance to introduce the PTP to your friends and neighbors, and a work social event to your professional colleagues. If you play sports, or if your kids do, a social event for the team can be a nice opportunity to share about the PTP.

It’s very helpful to research a couple of months into the future, and put into your calendar a number of events where you plan to gather signatures or times you plan to go to spots with heavy foot traffic. Likewise, set yourself a set of personal goals for the signatures you plan to get. Making a plan like this and writing it down has been shown by research to be highly effective in helping you achieve your goals, and fighting lies and protecting truth needs every advantage it can get!

Besides these more planned activities, take opportunity of things you already do to gather signatures spontaneously. Everyone is different in their activities, so be creative! One of our signature-gatherers travels frequently, and carries the binder around with him whenever he travels. He goes to various local events of values-based groups when he travels, and carries the binder with him visibly. He also hangs out in hotel bars in the evenings when he travels with his binder right beside him. When people ask him about the binder, he tells them about the pledge, and offers them an opportunity to sign. Be equally creative in adapting spontaneous signature-gathering into your life!

Note that some state have laws around gathering signatures for petitions to put on the ballot. Fortunately, the PTP is not a petition, and does not fall under these kinds of laws. Likewise, the PTP is not a form of electioneering, and does not fall under these kinds of laws. Still, some people who do not know what the PTP is about might be confused about it, and you would need to educate them about the fact that the PTP does not fall under either either petition laws or electioneering laws, since it is not about about a ballot measure or support for a candidate.

If you are part of a group of people in your locale researching signature-gathering events, make a Google Form such as this one made by the Ohio PTP Advocates group (directions on Google Forms here). Such Google Forms help coordinate the research of multiple people together, and because they can see what has already been found, they won’t research the same thing. Very handy! Then, you can have a point person in charge of communicating about events to people who engage in signature-gathering. That way, you can divide the research and signature-gathering activities into separate roles. Such division allows people who are more introverted and research-oriented to do research, and people who are more extroverted to do signature-gathering.

Now, let me be clear: this is in no way an absolute divide. Most people who are part of the Pro-Truth movement tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Despite being quite introverted myself, I do a lot of social activities. It’s just about what is easier to do for people. For example, while I can do signature-gathering, it’s easier for me to do writing: that’s the biggest impact I can personally make. For other people, writing is not their strength. So if you are in an organizing role and can make things easier for people by playing to their strengths, do so. Still, I know that there are people who specifically want to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zone: for example, I remember a PTP Advocate telling me he came out of his shell through PTP activism that included signature-gathering. So if people want to expand their comfort zone, support them in doing so!

Pro tip for organizers: set up reminder systems for people who are doing research and also those doing signature gathering. There are a number of people who commit to doing research or gathering signatures, and then life gets in the way. It’s not that they don’t want to do research or gather signatures, it’s simply that when their attention is not on this topic, they forget to do it. People have different personalities, and those who are in organizer positions generally are well organized themselves. Help others be their best selves by sending them reminders to conduct the research or signature-gathering they said they want to do! You can use organizing systems such as Trello to help organize your own activities, and scheduling reminders such as Gmelius to send recurring emails to others, or FollowUpThen, which offers a reminder service for yourself and others. Remember, you ARE NOT imposing on their time by reminding them to do these tasks, you are simply supporting them in achieving goals they said they want to achieve.

The Main Event: Gathering Signatures

Now, to the main event: actually getting signatures.

The binder provides you with the basics you will need to gather signatures when either canvassing or tabling. When canvassing, you’ll just walk around or stand in place and ask them to sign the pledge. When tabling, you will take out the flyers, the PTP text, the FAQs, the sign-up sheets, and if you have them business cards, and spread them out on a table. In either case, follow the guidelines below for gathering signatures.

  • Once people come close enough (5 yards) meet people’s eyes and smile
    • When tabling, it’s best to adopt the posture of Carl Baker in the photograph at the top: rather than sitting behind a table and having it between you and people, stand to the side or in front of the table
    • While in most cases, PTP merchandise is optimal, in some thematic events, you can also make a good impact with wearing an event-themed t-shirt, such as Carl Baker wearing a pro-science shirt at a March for Science event
  • For those who smile back and do not look away or seem busy and intent on ignoring you, give a “stopper” line (one that would get people to stop) because they agree about the problems that the Pro-Truth Pledge is meant to address
    • A good stopper line is “Hey, do you think there’s too much lying in politics?”
    • If you are at an event devoted to a specific political topic, consider tying that into your stopper line: for example, if you’re at an environment-themed event, say that “Don’t you hate it when politicians spread falsehoods about the environment?”
  • If they answer positively, give a brief pitch:
    • “I think so too, and I’m working to do something about it! I’m part of a non-partisan movement to bring truth back into politics. Join me to push politicians to stop lying and hold them accountable by signing the Pro-Truth Pledge.”
  • Immediately after the pitch, hand the person a flyer
    • Then, hold out the binder or clipboard and pen for them to sign
  • Do not give them the binder before giving them a flyer
    • Some people will want to read the test thoroughly and consider the pledge, which is fair
    • You want to be able to pitch to other people while someone is reading the text and considering whether to sign
    • So do not give away the binder unless the person is also taking a pen to sign
  • Once they take the pen, say something positive, such as “great” or “thanks”
    • While they are signing, explain to them that by signing the pledge, they are at the same time asking their elected representatives to sign the pledge
    • This is why we need their addresses and phone numbers
  • When the person is done signing, they’ll typically want to give you the binder and pen and be on their way
    • Take only the binder, and leave them with the pen for the moment
    • Then check to make sure they signed correctly: you’ll be quite surprised to see how many people made a mistake or forgot to fill something out
    • For example, they forget to put their address, or forget to print their name, or forget to put their phone or email
    • When this happens, explain why it is important to provide all of these, and ask “What is your address/phone/email, please?” and write it in for them if they agree to tell you
  • Thank them politely after they sign
    • Suggest they pass along the flyer and words about the pledge to their friends and neighbors
  • If you meet pushback such as “it will never work” or some other version of that, respond by saying “Well, doing something is better than nothing. What do you have to lose by signing and showing politicians what they should do?”
    • You can also give a response that comes from your personal experience and commitment, explaining why you signed
  • Other responses to clarifying questions can be given based on the FAQs
  • Do not spend more than a couple of minutes talking to people, especially those who want to argue
    • Remember, you are missing out a lot of potential people who will sign the pledge if you do
    • If they are insistent, you can tell them to take out their smartphone and look up the FAQs on the website, which have links to a number of articles about the pledge
    • You can also tell them that they can contact the PTP organizers through the website, who can answer their questions in more depth
  • For enthusiastic people, ask them if they’d like to help gather signatures or make a donation.
    • If so, take their contact information, and give it to the local area organizer, or to someone from the PTP Central Coordination Committee
    • If they want to donate cash on the spot, you should write them a receipt

At political events especially, you will have a substantial chance of running into public figures, such as politicians or reporters. When presenting the pledge to them, explain that each public figure will get a positive reputation boost from both signing the pledge and having their information sent around to all pledge signees. They will also get external validation from being evaluated by others for the accuracy of what they say. Further wording on convincing public figures is available here.

For elected officials or candidates in particular, they get a bonus from being able to attack their opponents in races when their opponents have not signed the pledge – what do these opponents have to hide if they refuse to take the pledge? Further wording is here for convincing politicians. Ask them to sign the binder and also provide you with a business card for the PTP central organizers to input their public information into the website. We will also follow up with them about a pledge statement they may want sent around to pledge-takers and hosted on the PTP Public Figures and Organizations page.

The binder also provides you with an additional tool to pitch elected officials or candidates, as it demonstrates the physical reality of many people signing the PTP. What you would want to do is combine the physical evidence of the binder along with the total number of all the people who have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge in that politician’s region if it’s a regional politician, or country if it’s a national-level politician, since part of signing the pledge involves calling on one’s elected representatives to sign the pledge. We make that information available only for people who are area organizers or members of the PTP Targeting Committee, for the sake of data security, so if you are one of these people, get in touch with one of your contacts from the PTP Central Coordination Committee for that information.

Note that politicians – or their staff, who you will likely be talking to if it’s a high-level political figure – will likely want you to leave them with some physical presence of the number of people who signed the PTP. What you can do is print out a photograph of one page of a sign-up sheet, as physical proof of signature-gathering, along with printing out the spreadsheet with all the names of the people who signed the PTP in that region or country. You can then leave it with the politician or their staff, along with a flyer with the text of the PTP.

Now Bring It Home

So you come home after the excitement of signature gathering. What next?

You might be thrilled to input the signatures you gathered into the PTP website. If so, great: here are the directions on doing so.

However, your skills and interests might be less in data entry than in other PTP areas. Worry not! We have volunteers who are excited about inputting people into the website. Just scan or take nice-quality photos of the signatures, and email them to info [at] intentionalinsights [dot] org.

After you send out the signatures, refill the supply of flyers and sign-up sheets in your binder. Then, check your calendar for the next signature-gathering opportunity and prepare everything you might need for that.

Let us know your experience and any questions you might have!

Bonus

Below are some thoughts from some of our more prolific signature-gatherers.

Here is how Carl Baker described his tabling experience at the March for Science in Washington State:

  • Lots of people seemed to be drawn in by the charts that are printed and taped onto the board on the front of the table. I think that it helped a lot that I was in a community where I’m already known. I wasn’t an outsider and this was an event I would have been at even without the PTP. My experience was that this is easier than it seems. Just nerve yourself up to talk to people (that’s the hard part). I didn’t encounter anyone who was hostile.

Here is how Ken Whitaker described his experience gathering signatures in Utah:

  • I agree with Carl Baker that getting up the nerve to do it is the hard part, once you’ve done that it’s easy sailing.
  • So far I’ve only done some canvassing at local rallies, but they’ve been pretty successful. I do, hopefully, have a tabling event coming up this weekend if I can come up with required fee. I’m excited to see how that goes, I’ll be there with my t-shirt on and for the first time a new 4′ banner I’ve purchased.
  • Getting online and checking upcoming events has been an incredible help, also I’m involved with a couple of local activist groups that I’ve gotten the leadership to sign as well as one of the organization’s themselves. I’ll be giving a presentation to the other organization at their next monthly meeting and will hopefully get the rest of the members as well as the organization to sign as well.

Here are thoughts from Duff Dyer, who is a professional salesperson

  • I find a direct approach most productive, in this and other sales (this is a sales situation). I start by asking, “Have you heard about the Pro-Truth Pledge yet?”
  • I’m assuming the answer will be, “No,” but if the answer is, “Yes,” I say, “Fantastic! Did you take The Pledge, or do you have questions?” The point of that is to uncover someone who didn’t sign, but can still be talked into it (especially if I’m at an event where there are others collecting signatures).
  • I think the best approach for exposition is to define the goals and my personal reasons for involvement. “The Pro-Truth Pledge in short, is a movement to be truthful. If you take The Pledge like I did, you essentially promise to be honest and truthful, in what you say, post, and expect from those around you. (Hand the potential signer The Pledge sheet). The bigger picture goal is to achieve honesty and truthfulness in our media and politicians. When we get a critical mass of signers in, for instance, (local politician’s) district, The Pledge includes that goal that we want our media and politicians to be honest and truthful too. So we go to a sitting politician, or media personality, or candidate, and say, we have 5000 people in your constituency that have signed the Pro-Truth Pledge and they want you to take The Pledge as well.
  • “I don’t know if this will work, but I can’t see how being honest and truthful, which I’m already doing, and trying encourage politicians and media to be honest and truthful as well can hurt.
  • “What do you think? You can take the Pro-Truth Pledge by signing right here.”

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Pro-Truth Pledge on Social Media

Caption: Road sign image of Facebook and Twitter (geralt/pixabay)

So you’ve taken the plunge with the Pro-Truth Pledge: congratulations! Now how do you live your social media life after the pledge?

Going Public

The first thing to do is post on social media about taking the pledge. You can use this Facebook sharer link, this Twitter sharer link, this LinkedIn sharer link, and this Reddit sharer link to do so. If you are active on other social media, you can share it there as well using the link to the Pro-Truth Pledge website.

Next, please add this Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile image or video, and this Twibbon to your Twitter profile image. If the standard Pro-Truth Pledge frame is not aesthetically pleasing to you fro some reason, you are welcome to use this alternative PTP Facebook Frame. Please mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent,” since the main point of the frame is to show others that you took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for your words. It’s also a way that fellow PTP-takers can recognize each other on FB, and build community. Finally, we find it’s very beneficial for encouraging one’s Facebook friends to take the pledge as well. For example, one PTP volunteer told me that after he put up his Frame, a friend of his quickly took the pledge, and he suspects the Frame is what caused it. I know that you may have other commitments as well, and want to show it with other frames: if you want to use other frames, you can use them on top of or in addition to the Pro-Truth Pledge FB Frame, but please keep that one there.

Caption: John Kirbow’s Facebook profile with Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame (Courtesy of John Kirbow)

To make the frame permanent, if you are on your computer, once you click “Try It,” you should see on the bottom of the screen an option for how long you want to keep the frame. It should state “Switch back to previous profile picture in” and give you a number of options. Simply select “Never” and that’s that! If you are on your phone, you will see options on the bottom left that give you various timing options, and you can click “Permanent” there. Any time you switch your profile picture, simply go back to this link and add the Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame to your new profile picture.

For your personal Facebook account, add the statement “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable” to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile as in this example. If you have a Facebook page, please add the same statement to the “About” section of your Facebook page as in this example. For your Twitter account, please add “Took #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org” to your Twitter bio. For your LinkedIn profile, add that you are a “Signer” of the Pro-Truth Pledge LinkedIn organization. Click the “+” button on your experience section, put in “Signer” as title, choose “Pro-Truth Pledge” as the organization, put in your date of signing, and in the description state “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable.” You can add additional information about why you chose to take the pledge and/or what kind of activities you are doing to advance the pledge as well. The big benefit for you of doing so is that your LinkedIn connections are notified of your new “experience” of being a signer of the pledge, spreading the word to your professional colleagues of your orientation toward truthfulness.

Add similar information for other social media where you have profiles. You can also add it to the sign-off message of your email. On some social media, you can have links, and that’s great, and on some you can add the hashtag, so see what works for each.

Then, please click “like” and “follow” on the official Facebook page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and also the official page of Intentional Insights (InIn), the nonpartisan educational 501(c)3 nonprofit running the Pro-Truth Pledge project. Please “follow” the Twitter account of the Pro-Truth Pledge and the Twitter account of Intentional Insights. Also, “follow” the LinkedIn page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and the LinkedIn page of Intentional Insights. If you are active on other social media, please take a look at the home page of Intentional Insights to see other social media you can follow.

Fighting Lies and Protecting Truth on Your Profile

So now you’ve gone public: what next?

The first thing to do is get involved with the Pro-Truth Pledge social media community. Our main collaborative venue is Facebook. Facebook groups allow Pro-Truth Pledge advocates to work together in a coordinated manner to fight lies and protect the truth. The first thing to do is join this Facebook group for InIn as a whole, called Intentional Insights Insiders. It’s the group for anyone in any way interested in InIn’s activities and mission. The group has a significant bar for entry: we make sure to check that anyone who joins is an actual human being who expressed a clear interest in the mission of the group or was invited by someone who can vouch for that person. Of course, someone can pretend an interest in the topic, and actually be trying to infiltrate and subvert the group, or less maliciously have a personality and values that make them disruptive to and undermine the community, such as expressing an excessively partisan tone. That is why we have a clear set of standards as described in the group sidebar, and the group is kept well-moderated, with substantial filtering of posts and moderation of comments. To learn more about what’s on-topic and what is not, see the general guidelines here for InIn Insiders moderators.

You will see a number of other Facebook groups linked in the top of the Intentional Insights Insiders group, and one of them is the Global Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates Facebook group. This is a smaller offshoot of the broader Intentional Insights Insiders group, and is specifically dedicated to work on the Pro-Truth Pledge itself. Only those who took the pledge may join the group. The Global Pro-Truth Pledge advocates FB group is only for discussions related explicitly to strategizing and implementing the Pro-Truth Pledge project. By contrast, Intentional Insights Insiders is for broader content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas. So posts about lies and truth in politics in general are for the Intentional Insights Insiders group, while posts asking for advice about how to target the pledge well to a certain audience are better for the Global Pro-Truth Pledge advocates group. At the top of the Global Pro-Truth Pledge Advocates Facebook group you will find linked a host of groups for local-level activism, for many states in the US and some countries: check out if you live in an area with a group.

There are other groups linked at the top of Intentional Insights Insiders, which anyone who is a member of Intentional Insights Insiders can join. One is the Intentional Insights Informal Coaching Forum Facebook group. This is a group for coaches and clients (active and prospective) of the Intentional Insights Informal Coaching program to ask general questions and discuss situations and solutions. Another is the Intentional Insights Collaborative Truth-Seeking Club Facebook group, devoted to challenging conversations, meaning ones that have the reasonable potential to arouse strong emotions, by using collaborative truth-seeking strategies. Some of the more challenging conversations and posts that are originally proposed for the Intentional Insights Insiders Facebook group are redirected here. There’s also the Intentional Insights Reading Club Facebook group, devoted to reading and discussing texts directly relevant to the InIn mission of truth-seeking, rational thinking, and wise decision-making in all life areas. If you enjoy reading and discussing long texts, that’s a good group to join.

The Facebook groups provide safe spaces to discuss lies and truth in our public discourse, and especially in politics. However, it’s also important to make an impact on your friends and family, and you taking the pledge involves a commitment to do so. Research shows that we can significantly influence those in our social networks to engage in either beneficial or non-beneficial behavior. So use your posts on social media to influence your network toward greater honesty.

It is definitely beneficial to share on all of your social media platforms the postings that you see on the official Pro-Truth Pledge and Intentional Insights pages. That gives you a double impact: not only do you spread highly accurate, fact-checked information, but you also get your network to learn about and consider investigating the Pro-Truth Pledge itself. Especially impactful for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are truth-oriented images, and we have a whole bunch of Pro-Truth memes for you to choose from here: share away!

Caption: Meme from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Also, look at what people share in the Intentional Insights and Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook groups. Members there range across the political spectrum and orient toward truth above all, and after seeing the feedback there, you can decide what to share and what responses to make if people challenged you on the accuracy of the piece you share.

If you want to share something that has not yet been vetted in the official Pro-Truth Pledge groups, please follow our fact-checking guidelines. Also, avoid unreliable sources: a good way to do so is to use this extension for Chrome. If you don’t use Chrome, check the cites you use against this list, and this list, and this list.

For each piece you share on Facebook, please add a version of the following wording in a P.S. to your post: “I took the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org, consider this article credible and the headline representative of the article: correct me if you think I might be mistaken, please!” An example is here. Doing so helps you come off as substantially more credible than someone else making a similar post, and thus impacting your connections to a greater extent. It also helps spread word about the pledge. Do the same sort of P.S. statement for other social media that allow you to do so, such as LinkedIn. While you can’t do the same thing for Twitter due to character limitations, what you can do on Twitter is add the hashtag #ProTruthPledge liberally, so please do so.

None of us are perfect, and sometimes our fact-checking efforts will fail. Never fear: that gives you a chance to practice the sixth behavior of the pledge (“reevaluate if my information is challenged, retract it if I cannot verify it”) and the twelfth behavior (“celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth”). Publicly and gladly retract your statements. Do so both in the original statement itself, such as by editing the original Facebook post with an UPDATE at the very top and by commenting on your own Facebook post or tweet, and in a separate Facebook post and tweet announcing your retraction. State that you are following the pledge in your retractions, to model for your social network what they should do when they learn that they shared misinformation and again spread the word about the pledge.

If you reshared the piece of misinformation from someone else on social media, let that person or organization know, and ask them to retract their post, following the eighth behavior (“ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies”). If you got the information from an online source, contact them to ask them to address the misinformation. Let them know that you are doing so in alignment with the Pro-Truth Pledge that you have taken, and if your efforts to get them to correct their statements succeeds, encourage them to take the pledge as well.

Fighting Misinformation Shared by Others

So far, we’ve talked about your own social media profile. What about when your friends and family post what you suspect to be misinformation?

Do not confront them with evidence about them sharing misinformation. Research suggests that, for the large majority of the population, being confronted with the evidence results in negative emotions, shutting down thinking and inspiring defensive or aggressive responses. At that point, you lost: they will not change their minds.

Instead, use curiosity to find out where they learned about that information. Ask them if they consider the source and the evidence credible. Engage them in a conversation about what it means to use credible sources and quality evidence. Establish a sense of trust and shared goals, and get them to agree that the most important thing is the facts, regardless of ideology.

Caption: Meme indicating that facts are the most important thing, not ideology, from the Pro-Truth meme set (Made by Lexie Holliday for Intentional Insights)

In the course of the conversation, once they feel safe, you may or may not share some of the evidence you may have about their post being misinformation. It’s best if they find the evidence on their own through the questions you ask, rather than being presented with the evidence by you. Their own search for evidence will help teach them the skills of fact-checking and online research, rather than just you providing them with the facts.

Note in the course of the conversation that you are following the ninth behavior of the pledge, “ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies,” and the tenth behavior, “compassionately inform those around me to stop using unreliable sources even if these sources support my opinion.” Again, you are modeling what you preach, and also sharing about the pledge in the process. For the behavioral science research underlying this approach, and an example of this approach in play in a high-stakes public situation, see this article.

The interaction described above takes some patience and effort. It requires you to have a decent pre-existing relationship with that person, and for the other person to care at least somewhat about the truth.

What if it’s your uncle who always posts deceptive articles from Breitbart or your cousin who posts misleading memes from OccupyDemocrats, and you know based on past discussions that they won’t change their behavior? What about if it’s someone you barely know from high school, and you doubt that the effort to change their mind is going to be successful, or you simply don’t want to put in the time and effort into influencing them?

Well, there’s a meme for that. Posting a meme takes a few seconds, and makes quite a big impact. Research shows that information shared in a visual format is significantly more effective at combatting misinformation than textual information. Another study demonstrated that a major motivator for lying stems from people trying to gain the benefits of deceptive behavior while still thinking of themselves as honest. Posting a meme questioning people’s honesty thus represents an excellent, science-based way of fighting misinformation.

There are a number of Pro-Truth memes at various levels of escalation. Here is one soft one, for people with whom you have a higher concern for maintaining relationships. Say it’s your cousin who you see occasionally at family events, and with whom you want to be cordial.

Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring Sherlock Holmes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Let’s say your cousin posted something more ridiculous than usual, and you want to up the ante. Here’s the meme to use.

Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring gnomes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)

Here is a set of memes for someone whose good opinion you don’t really care about, where your primary concern is to convince onlookers to avoid believing in the post made by the person.

Caption: Meme criticizing alternative facts from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon for Intentional Insights)

Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Ed Coolidge for Intentional Insights)

 

Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon and Steven Carr for Intentional Insights)

Caption: Meme criticizing the sharing of fake news from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Lau Guerreiro for Intentional Insights)

The latter one is the most powerful, and most intense. For more guidelines in how to address people with irrational beliefs, see this article.

Lobbying Public Figures on Social Media

A key aspect of the Pro-Truth Pledge involves encouraging public figures and organizations to take it. You can do that through social media.

Twitter is a highly useful venue for this regard, as it’s the most public forum available. You can tweet to any politician or other public figure “[email protected][twitter handle] please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and #alternativefacts @ProTruthPledge” or an adapted version of this message. Keep those hashtags, they are valuable for drawing attention to your message. You can, for example, send a tweet a day to someone from this Twitter list of US congressmembers, or this list of NBC correspondents, and also find lists of your own. Consider finding a list of reporters for your local paper or TV channel, or your local politicians, and tweeting them.

Facebook is also useful, though less so, since it is not as publicly visible. There, what you would want to do is go to the pages of politicians such as from this list, or media such as from this list. Then, send them a message, saying something like “@ please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and protect #truth and #facts” and also post this in a comment on their pinned post or latest post.

The same strategies apply to organizations and public figures on LinkedIn, as well as all other social media.

We know these strategies work: a number of public figures have been convinced to take the pledge through reaching out to them on social media. For example, one of our volunteers has described how whenever anyone invites him to “like” a Facebook page from a politician, he asks whether that individual have taken the pledge. After a couple of exchanges back and forth, where he explains the pledge and follows up, about a quarter end up taking the pledge. Imagine what would happen if a quarter of all the politicians whose Facebook pages you were invited to like end up taking the pledge!

Conclusion

Following strategies will enable you to be highly effective in fighting lies and promoting truth on social media. Let us know what your experience is like and what questions you have!