Pro-Truth Pledge Translated to Russian

Кодекс Защитника Правды

Я Обещаю Сделать Все Возможное, Чтобы:

Распространять правду

  • Проверять: проверять факты, чтобы подтвердить, что информация является правдой, прежде чем принимать ее на веру и делиться ею с другими
  • Бороться с предубеждениями: распространять всю информацию целиком, даже если некоторые аспекты не совпадают с моим личным мнением
  • Цитировать: делиться своими источниками, чтобы другие могли проверить мою информацию
  • Уточнять: отделять мое личное мнение от фактов

Уважать правду

  • Поддерживать: подтверждать, когда другие распространяют правдивую информацию, даже если мы с ней не согласны
  • Пересматривать: пересматривать, если моя информация оспаривается, и публично отказываться от нее, если я не могу ее проверить
  • Защищать: защищать других, когда они попадают под атаку за то, что они делятся правдивой информацией, даже если мы не согласны
  • Согласовывать: согласовывать мои мнения и мои действия с достоверной информацией

Поощрять правду

  • Исправлять: просить людей убрать информацию, которую надежные источники опровергли, даже если эти люди мои союзники
  • Просвещать: просить окружающих, чтобы они прекратили использовать недостоверные источники, даже если эти источники поддерживают мое мнение
  • Учитывать: признавать мнения экспертов как более точные, особенно, когда факты оспариваются
  • Чествовать: праздновать, если кто-то отказывается от неверных заявлений и приближается к истине

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 template pitch you can send. 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. Add similar information for other social media where you have profiles. 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.

Then, please click “like” and “follow” on the official Facebook page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and also the official page of Intentional Insights, the 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. So please join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights, and also this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. Anything that has to do with the pledge is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge advocates Facebook group, so make sure that anything you post there is specifically about the pledge. 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 you might be interested in joining in your area: find your local group there, and join it to see what’s going on in your locale.

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!

Threading the Fact-Checking Needle

Meme saying “Look for the actual truth, not just for what supports your beliefs” (Made for Intentional Insights by Lexie Holliday)

Made for Intentional Insights by Lexie Holliday

Our Pro-Truth Pledge recently generated an intriguing question:

(The PTP is) an impressive commitment. Fact checking most info that comes my way seems impossible. How do you do it?

How do we do it? From a technical perspective of how to do quick and effective fact-checking, we recommend that you use our Facts Search Engine, which is a custom Google search engine we made from many reputable sources. However, that search engine only addresses a percentage of all information with which you might deal.

Moreover, who has the time to fact-check everything? How can we reduce the workload a bit?

Below are a few tips that we’ve come up with.

Ask yourself the following:

Is it timely?

Many items may be interesting but if they’re more than a few months old, chances are most of those with whom you would share have moved on to other news. It’s generally best to give these a pass.

If it is timely then:

Is it published on a site generally agreed to be accurate, precise and reputed for its integrity?

If so, then you might be able to give fact-checking a pass. Still, it’s generally best to ask:

Does it appear to be an opinion piece or a factual narrative?

If it’s an op-ed and you choose to share, you probably want to add a comment to that effect when sharing, as well as clarifying what you believe about the op-ed: do you agree with it, disagree with it, or agree with some parts, and disagree with others. But if it purports to be factual then:

Does it make any absolute or outrageous claims?

Here, you’re looking for trigger words or phrases like “always”, “never”, “everyone”, “no one”, or “all the time.” These are red flags for claims that are likely to be, at least to some degree, wrong. Rarely is truth absolute enough to hold in every case or falsehood so absolute as to be false in every instance.

Meme saying “we’re most comfortable dealing with reality as black or white, but reality so rarely agrees with us” (Made for Intentional Insights by Wayne Straight)

Made for Intentional Insights by Wayne Straight

If your answer is yes, then it’s probably best to pass on sharing. If no then:

Does the article please you?

If so, it may be playing to your subconscious biases. Make extra efforts to check if it is true.

Meme saying “It would be very convenient if the things that are most comfortable to believe are also the ones that happen to be the most true” (Meme made for Intentional Insights by Isabelle Phung)

Caption: Meme saying “It would be very convenient if the things that are most comfortable to believe are also the ones that happen to be the most true” (Meme made for Intentional Insights by Isabelle Phung)

Meme made for Intentional Insights by Isabelle Phung

If not:

Does it make you angry?

Try to determine why. It may simply be that your anger is being triggered by an “uncomfortable truth.”

In either case, any article that stirs strong emotions (positive or negative) needs checking – as the emotions themselves may lead you to share as a result of your own biases.

Meme saying “Uncomfortable truths>comfortable lies” (Meme made for Intentional Insights by Isabelle Phung)

Meme made for Intentional Insights by Isabelle Phung

Note here that an article or site may be intentionally designed to incite anger, revulsion, or outrage. The aim isn’t clarity or edification but rather to get your goat, basically a form of trolling. If this appears to be the case then you can safely ignore it. It’s simply not worth your time. If it does appear to be authentic however, then ask:

Also Ask:

  • Does the text support the title?
  • Are there any actual facts cited within it?
  • Are they well-supported?
  • If so, how reliable are those sources and can you trace them back to original articles or studies?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then as a signatory to the PTP you are faced with two options: fact-check before sharing or pass.

Adhering to the Pro-Truth Pledge takes work: what would be the point of a pledge if it did not? But it doesn’t have to take a lot of time (given access to a few fact-checking sites) to check before you post. If you don’t have the time, then don’t post. At the very least, question the source within your post, i.e., “Does anyone know if this isn’t true?” and be willing to retract the post if it isn’t. It’s basic humility.

If you do decide to post, we strongly recommend that you say whenever you post a news article that: “I took the Pro-Truth Pledge at www.ProTruthPledge.org, consider this article credible, and the title represents the article well. If you think I might be mistaken, please let me know: I would be happy to update my beliefs toward the truth.”

Resources

Finally, here’s a short list of resources to make the task a bit less onerous:

A reminder about our own fact-checking search engine:
https://www.protruthpledge.org/facts-search-engine/

Next, a site that has crowd-sourced assessments of the biases and truthfulness of a host of ‘news’ sources:
https://mediabiasfactcheck.com

Third, a site that “tells you when the webpage you are viewing has been disputed, rebutted or contradicted elsewhere on the internet.”
http://rbutr.com

Lastly, a Web-based analysis tool (Note that it only seems to find stuff on older sites.):
http://scamanalyze.com/about

There you have it. Can you think of any other tips or resources?

What is Misinformation?

The Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) is violated when a pledge-taker shares misinformation. From the perspective of the PTP, misinformation is anything that goes against the truth of reality. It can mean directly lying about the situation at hand, for instance when an athlete denies taking steroids that she was actually taking. It can mean lying by omission, as when a scholar publishes a study with a successful experiment, while hiding that he conducted 50 of the same experiments that failed, until by random chance one finally worked, a phenomenon known as publication bias. It can mean using made-up statistics to support one’s argument. It can mean misrepresenting someone else’s position in such a way that a neutral observer would have a completely twisted perspective of that position. It can mean insisting something is true despite lacking clear evidence that it is in fact true, especially after being challenged about the claim. It can mean sharing an article whose headline is at odds with the conclusions reached in the article. In general, misinformation is anything that conveys information in an obviously deceptive way that leads audiences to have the wrong impression of the truth of reality.

In some cases, such misinformation is obvious, so that any reasonable external observer – in this case, fellow pledge-takers who evaluate each other – can see it. In other cases, it is less so. For those cases, the PTP calls on pledge signers to rely on credible fact-checking websites and/or on the scientific consensus. Rather than going through the process of vetting fact-checking websites, we have decided to outsource that work to Facebook, which is partnering with websites it has vetted and evaluated as credible. As of the initial unveiling, the websites include Snopes, Politifact, ABC News, and FactCheck.org, and more will be added over time. All these are members of a common coalition, the Poynter International Fact Checking Network, and have committed to a common set of principles. Any other websites that Facebook uses will be considered credible for PTP purposes. Someone who takes the pledge will be considered in violation of the pledge if they make a claim that is similar to those rated as “mostly false” or “completely false” by one of these websites (they use different language, but you get the idea). In a case where credible websites disagree, for instance one calls a claim “mostly false” and another calls it “mostly true,” we will not consider the claim a violation of the PTP.

In some cases, fact-checking websites have not evaluated certain claims, but the claim will be opposed by scientific research. Since science is the best of all methods we as human beings have found to determine the reality about the world and predict the outcomes of our actions, someone will be evaluated as in violation of the pledge if they make a claim that goes against the scientific consensus. We are comfortable with the Wikipedia definition of scientific consensus as “the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (reproducible results by others), and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the ‘normal’ debates through which science progresses may seem to outsiders as contestation. On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the ‘inside’ to the ‘outside’ of the scientific community.” Thus, we can recognize scientific consensus by position statements by prestigious scientific organizations, such as this statement from 18 associations on climate change, or the result of meta-analysis studies (evaluations of a series of other prominent studies) that come to a clear determination, such as this study on the relationship of vaccines and autism. Since science gets ahead in part through individual scientists with expertise in a certain domain challenging the scientific consensus in that domain, those who are scientists do not have to abide by the scientific consensus in areas where they have scientific expertise; for all others, since it is very rare for the scientific consensus to be accurately judged as wrong by external observers, going against the scientific consensus is a violation of the pledge. Note that while we encourage deferring to experts in any specific domain, due to people’s intuitive tendency to have excessive confidence in their own opinions and underestimate the value of expert opinions, we consider going against expert opinion a violation of the pledge only in the case of a clear scientific consensus.

No one is perfect, and we do not assume anyone will be perfect in sticking to the truth-oriented behaviors described in the pledge. That is why the pledge asks for your “earnest efforts” to pursuing these behaviors, as opposed to perfection. We encourage all pledge-takers to support and encourage each other in pursuing truth-oriented behaviors, by highlighting opportunities for improvement in doing so by other pledge-takers and praising those who pursue such behaviors even despite obstacles. At the same time, we cannot read anyone’s mind and see whether they dedicated “earnest efforts” to these behaviors or not. What may be easy to some people may be incredibly difficult to others, for all sorts of reasons; what may be glaring lapses in pursuing these behaviors may be invisible to others. Thus, we do not consider situations where pledge-takers failed to engage in these behaviors as violations of the pledge. Still, we do need at least some clear and externally-verifiable standards of when people violate the pledge, something that all pledge-takers can agree on and externally verify. The three points above offer that opportunity for clear external verification that all pledge-takers agree to avoid: statements deliberately meant to mislead, going against credible fact-checking sites, or going against the scientific consensus.

Pro-Truth Changes June 2017

After getting feedback on the Pro-Truth Pledge we were able to increase the clarity and reduce the size by half.
This is our guiding ideas of the changes:

  • Moved clarifying text to a linked document
  • Prefer more concise phrasing
  • Prefer common words
  • Each line begins with a single word and a colon (it is often repeated and that is acceptable)
  • No punctuation at the end of a line
  • “Earnest effort” is at the top so we do not add a similar phrase on any other line

 

Below is the pledge front page as of June 18, 2017


Tired of politicians who will say anything to get elected?

The Pro-Truth Pledge reverses the tide of lies by calling on politicians – and everyone else – to commit to truth-oriented behaviors. Take the pledge, demand that your elected representatives do so, and encourage your friends to take it!

I Pledge To:

Share the truth

  • Sacrifice: I will strive to avoid sharing misinformation – including clear lies, statements that go against reliable fact-checking organizations, or the scientific consensus on a given topic – even in service to a cause I believe is good.
  • Balance: I will do my best to share true information, even if it does not support my opinion.
  • Verify: Before I share information, I will make a reasonable effort to ensure it is true, for instance by using reliable fact-checking websites or evaluating the scientific consensus on the topic.
  • Source: I will endeavor to share my sources, providing a way for others to verify my information.
  • Clarify: I will aim to express myself in ways that clearly distinguishes between what is my opinion and what are the facts.

Honor the truth

  • Acknowledge: When others share facts, I will strive to acknowledge that the facts are true, even when I disagree with the person’s conclusions or position.
  • Retract: If my information is challenged, I will make a reasonable effort to verify that it is true before repeating it and retract it if I cannot verify it.
  • Defend: I will endeavor to defend others when they come under attack for sharing the truth, even if we have different values.
  • Align: I will do my best to align my opinions and my actions with facts, regardless of whether the facts support my intuitions and values.

Encourage the truth

  • Request Retractions: I will strive to ask people who share information that reliable sources, such as credible fact-checking organizations, have shown to be false to retract their statements, even if they are friends or allies.
  • Challenge: I will, to the best of my ability, compassionately challenge those around me to stop using sources that reliable sources have shown to be systematically unreliable, even if these systematically unreliable sources support my perspective.
  • Respect Expertise: I will aim to recognize the opinions of those who have substantially more expertise on a topic than myself as more likely to be accurate in their assessments in cases where the facts cannot be determined accurately, while reserving the right to choose whether to update my opinions toward their perspective.
  • Celebrate Updating: I will gladly celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth.


Share the Pledge:


Frequently Asked Questions

While plenty of people have lied to get ahead in the past, this problem has gotten particularly bad lately. Recent political events in the United States, United Kingdom, and many other democratic countries have caused Oxford Dictionary to choose post-truth politics, “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,” as its 2016 word of the year. Less and less people trust the media, in part due to the rise of alternative media, in part due to the growth of opinion-driven reporting, and in part due to criticism of the media by prominent politicians. The replication crisis in a number of scientific fields is eroding the credibility of scientists. The most popular sport in the world is mired in scandals based on deception. Leaders of organizations are lying more and more frequently, and usually do not get punished. It’s not only a problem with public figures: fake news, more recently termed “viral deception,” is sweeping social media, shared by ordinary citizens.

Sharing such misinformation is not necessarily intended to harm others or even deliberately deceive, as our minds are not intuitively set on seeking the truth. Research suggests our emotions and intuitions instead focus on protecting our worldview and personal identity rather than updating our beliefs based on the most accurate information. We are thus not naturally inclined to live by the maxim of “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Being truthful thus requires the same kind of effort as any other sort of civilized, not-instinctive behavior.

Our society as a whole loses out by these lies, while individual liars often gain by their deception, a situation known as a “tragedy of the commons.” A well-known tragedy of the commons is pollution: we all gain from clean air and water, but some individual polluters gain more, at least in the short term, by polluting the environment, harming all of us. Similarly, we all benefit from a society where we can trust each other to tell the truth, but some individuals gain more, in the short term, by abusing this trust and polluting the truth. Fortunately, the environmental movement of the 1970s has now resulted in a situation where many people started recycling and our society passed environmental legislation. In the same way, we can change individual behavior and public policy alike to be more oriented toward the truth through the Pro-Truth Movement, and the PTP is one aspect of this movement to help fight deception.

How does the pledge solve these problems?

Behavioral science research suggests that an important key to addressing such tragedies of the commons involve a combination of strategies. One is changing incentives, namely increasing rewards for behavior that is cooperative and helps society – in this case, telling the truth, and also increasing punishments for behavior that defects from the common good and harms society – lying. Another strategy involves reputation management, clearly showing who is being cooperative, and who is defecting. A third strategy centers around managing the choices available to participants, what is known as nudging. The PTP takes advantage of a fourth behavioral science strategy of precommitment – if you publicly commit to a certain course, you will be much more likely to follow it.

The PTP, created by a group of behavioral scientists, combines all of these strategies. By doing so, it provides a tool that motivates all who take it to share accurate information and avoid sharing misinformation.

Besides providing the motivation, the PTP spells out what it means to orient toward the truth. After all, it is very easy to say you share the truth, regardless of whether you do so. It is even easy to say you “verified” a source before sharing the information. However, if you verified it through checking a source known to be systematically unreliable, whether Occupy Democrats for liberals or Breitbart for conservatives, you have violated the standard of avoiding unreliable websites, and thus violated the pledge. As you will see below, if you retract your statement, you will not suffer any penalties from PTP advocates. The clear standard about truth-oriented behavior not only offers guidance to those who take the pledge, but also a basis for evaluating whether pledge-takers abide by their commitment. For more information, watch this Q&A video about the Pro-Truth Pledge.

Misinformation is anything that goes against the truth of reality. It can mean directly lying about the situation at hand, for instance when an athlete denies taking steroids that she was actually taking. It can mean lying by omission, as when a scholar publishes a study with a successful experiment, while hiding that he conducted 50 of the same experiments that failed, until by random chance one finally worked, a phenomenon known as publication bias.In some cases, misinformation is obvious, so that anyone can see it. In other cases, it is less so. For those cases, the PTP calls on pledge signers to rely on credible fact-checking websites and/or on the scientific consensus.

Rather than going through the process of vetting fact-checking websites, we have decided to outsource that work to Facebook, which is partnering with websites it has vetted and evaluated as credible. As of the initial unveiling, the websites include Snopes, Politifact, ABC News, and FactCheck.org, and more will be added over time. All these are members of a common coalition, the Poynter International Fact Checking Network, and have committed to a common set of principles. Any other websites that Facebook uses will be considered credible for PTP purposes. Someone who takes the pledge will be considered in violation of the pledge if they make a claim that is similar to those rated as “mostly false” or “completely false” by one of these websites (they use different language, but you get the idea). In a case where credible websites disagree, for instance one calls a claim “mostly false” and another calls it “mostly true,” we will not consider the claim a violation of the PTP.

In some cases, fact-checking websites have not evaluated certain claims, but the claim will be opposed by scientific research. Since science is the best of all methods we as human beings have found to determine the reality about the world and predict the outcomes of our actions, someone will be evaluated as in violation of the pledge if they make a claim that goes against the scientific consensus. We are comfortable with the Wikipedia definition of scientific consensus as “the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity. Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (reproducible results by others), and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the ‘normal’ debates through which science progresses may seem to outsiders as contestation. On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the ‘inside’ to the ‘outside’ of the scientific community.” Thus, we can recognize scientific consensus by position statements by prestigious scientific organizations, such as this statement from 18 associations on climate change, or the result of meta-analysis studies (evaluations of a series of other prominent studies) that come to a clear determination, such as this study on the relationship of vaccines and autism. Since science gets ahead in part through individual scientists with expertise in a certain domain challenging the scientific consensus in that domain, those who are scientists do not have to abide by the scientific consensus in areas where they have expertise.

The pledge is violated when you share misinformation. Violating the pledge does not mean you are going to be immediately punished for doing so, since the PTP is not intended to be primarily punitive. In putting facts first, we are not trying to play “gotcha” when someone makes an innocent mistake that causes a violation the pledge. After all, we aim to push ourselves and others who signed the pledge to be better than our natural inclinations – just like it is against the natural inclination of many of us to avoid a second piece of chocolate cake. Yet taking the second piece and thus violating our aspirations to eat well doesn’t mean we drop our goal of having healthy eating habits, but simply try to figure out what went wrong and aim to do better in the future.

Similarly, each of us may well eventually fail to be oriented toward the truth, and make a statement that goes against a fact-checking website or the scientific consensus or the clearly visible truth of reality. We rely on a community of truth-oriented individuals to support each other and provide compassionate correction when we fail, helping advance open-minded thinking among all of us and thus improving our society, as research shows. A key piece of the pledge is that all pledge-takers will hold all others who took the pledge accountable for upholding the truth. If someone is unwilling to correct themselves when provided clear information about their mistake, it is the responsibility of each of us who took the pledge to hold that person accountable by publicizing that person’s actions in appropriate channels, to penalize that person through harming that person’s reputation. This applies especially to holding public figures who took the pledge accountable, as they have a bigger impact on public opinion and the common good of trust and truth in our society.

How does this accountability work in practice? While a public figure sharing misinformation by mistake suffers no penalty, one deliberately violating the pledge – as shown by a refusal to retract misinformation one shared – suffers substantial negative consequences. All of those who take the pledge have the opportunity to sign up for action alerts, and can also sign up to be a Pro-Truth advocate. Pro-Truth advocates can focus on a number of activities, including monitoring others who have taken the pledge, particularly public figures. If a Pro-Truth advocate finds that someone has violated the pledge, especially a public figure, the advocate would contact the person privately. As part of this process, the advocate would adopt “charity mode,” meaning being more charitable toward the alleged violator than is one’s intuition, and assuming an “innocent until reasonably shown guilty” perspective – perhaps the person misspoke, or you misheard something. Use curiosity and questioning to determine whether there is clear evidence that the pledge has been violated. If there is clear evidence, provide this to the alleged violator, and if the person retracts her/his words, the matter is resolved.

If the alleged violator does not retract her/his statement, the advocate may publicize the matter via the advocate’s own channels, social media and otherwise. In doing so, the advocate must provide both: 1) Clear evidence of the violation, and 2) Clear evidence of a good-faith, reasonable effort to get the alleged violator of the pledge to address the violation. The advocate may also spread word to other PTP advocates with whom the advocate has contacts for them to publicize the information, as well as others whom the advocate considers salient to the deception at hand. If the individual is a private citizen, the matter ends there, as this sort of reputational blow provides a significant enough disincentive to cause the large majority private citizens who take the pledge to avoid lying.

If the alleged violator is a public figure, the advocate would escalate the matter to a PTP local, regional, or national mediating committee, depending on the status of the public figure. This committee includes a group of vetted volunteers who would evaluate the evidence provided by the advocate, contact the public figure for a chance for the person to offer an explanation, and make a ruling – either determining that there is a violation, that there is no violation, or that the evidence is insufficient to make a judgment. If there is a ruling of a violation, then this ruling is evaluated by a member of the PTP Central Coordinating Committee, to ensure fairness and accuracy, and provide an external perspective. In the case that the PTP Central Coordinating Committee member also determines that a violation has occurred, the committee then contacts the alleged violator, offering the person another chance to retract her/his words. By this time, the public figure had a number of opportunities to clarify the situation and correct it if a mistake has been made, rather than if the public figure aimed to make a deliberate deception to pollute the truth and hurt all of us. This process might sound a little convoluted, but it minimizes the possibility of the PTP being politicized or corrupted at a local level.

If the public figure still refuses to take her/his words back, the PTP mediating committee would issue a press advisory that the public figure is in contempt of the pledge to put reputational pressure on the thought leader, with clear evidence of the violation as well as the efforts it made to get the public figure to revise the violation. The PTP mediating committee would also contact relevant organizations with which the person who violated the pledge is affiliated, such as the radio station if it is a radio show host, or a university if it is a scientist. It would also issue a PTP Action Alert to those who indicated they want to receive such alerts – either at the local, regional, or national level, depending on the stature of the public figure – for them to email/Tweet and otherwise message the public figure encouraging her/him to revise the relevant statements, and writing letters-to-the-editor about the situation. Finally, the public figure will be listed on the PTP website as in contempt of the pledge. This provides considerable reputation pressure for a public figure to avoid being in contempt of the pledge – if the public figure envisions violating the pledge deliberately, s/he would be better off not signing it at all. To summarize, innocent violations of the pledge will not be penalized, only deliberate attempts to misrepresent the truth and thus undermine the public good of truth and trust.

Who will monitor the PTP mediating committees? Other pledge-takers, of course. The PTP mediating committees have strong incentives to ensure that their rulings are as fair and objective as is possible, because their whole reputation rests on such objectivity. The outcomes of their proceedings – if there is a ruling of a violation – will be provided as evidence for scrutiny by other pledge-takers, and the public at large. These outcomes will not be provided if the public figure retracts her/his words at any stage, to prevent reputation damage for the public figure, since the PTP is not meant to be punitive but corrective.

Violations of the pledge only apply to statements made in and about the public sphere. In other words, it does not apply to private interactions, such as when a wife tells her husband his new shirt makes him look really muscular, regardless of what she really thinks. It does not apply to semi-private contexts, such as when a fisherman tells tall tales about the size of the fish he caught. It also does not apply to religious or other values-based contexts, except in cases where the statement is a clear piece of misinformation about public policy. It also does not apply to cases that cannot be reasonably verified and/or have to do with personal beliefs and spiritual experiences, such as when a politician or a pastor says “I support this policy because of God’s personal revelations to me,” or an environmentalist says “I support protecting the environment because otherwise the spirit of Mother Earth would suffer” – it is not possible to verify whether God exists or made revelations to someone or whether the spirit of Mother Earth exists and experiences suffering if the environment is not protected. The pledge matters only in verifiable statements in the public sphere, such as when a private citizen shares a piece of viral deception online, or a journalist misquotes a source, or a pastor makes false claims about miracle healing and thus encourages parishioners to avoid going to doctors, or a scientist hides unfavorable experimental results relevant to public policy,  or a politician spreads lies about her opponent.

While the pledge is only violated when you share misinformation, pledge-takers can choose to stick by the word of the pledge but go against its spirit through misleading if not explicitly false statements – what is known as “spin.” In these cases, we encourage other pledge-takers to call out fellow pledge-takers who fail to live by the spirit of the pledge. In almost all cases, spinning the information will go against one of the truth-oriented behaviors outlined in the pledge. Bring this to the attention of the pledge-taker who fails to engage in this behavior, and encourage that pledge-taker to model the values of the pledge.

First, let us consider the individual rewards for different groups of pledge-takers:

If you are an elected or appointed public official, you need to be perceived as trustworthy by citizens. The PTP provides you with that credibility, due to the presence of the monitoring mechanism. Citizens can easily look you up in the PTP database, and see if you are in contempt of the pledge or not. If you have signed the pledge a while ago and are not in contempt, they can be pretty confident that you have a high degree of honesty. You get an additional benefit if you are an elected official and your opponent for elected office has not taken the PTP, since you can raise questions about why your opponent does not wish to do so and what your opponent is choosing to lie about rather than be found to be in contempt of the PTP. Finally, you get benefits because when you sign up, we include your information in the PTP Updates we send to those pledge-takers who subscribed to these. Likewise, you can submit additional content to the PTP Updates that demonstrates why you care about the truth, ways that you oriented toward the truth when it would have been politically expedient to lie, as well as instances where taking the PTP caused you to act differently than you would have otherwise. If the content is a good fit for our mission, we will include it in the emails we send to the PTP Updates subscribers (contact us to get more clarity on what we’re looking for in the PTP Updates content submissions). This provides you as a politician with positive recognition and reputation as being honest and credible to your constituents, and also offers you a base for furthering your political career since more people outside your locale find out about you and your pro-truth words and deeds.

If you are a media figure or thought leader (journalist, radio/podcast host, blogger, commentator/analyst, speaker/trainer, author, consultant, etc.), you need to be perceived as trustworthy by the audience to which you communicate. The PTP provides you with that benefit due to the monitoring mechanism, and similarly to the politician described above, the longer you are signed up without being in contempt, the more credibility you get. Moreover, if your competitors do not sign the pledge, you will get a bigger audience, since their audiences will start flocking to you as a more trustworthy source of news/analysis/thought leadership. You can also get a broader audience engaged with you since you will get mentioned in the PTP Update when you first sign the pledge, and can get additional PTP-related content accepted into the PTP Update, as well as further your career by getting more recognition outside of your locale.

If you are a scientist, you need to be trusted by your fellow scholars, science journalists, people in industries relevant to your research, and the broader public as a whole. They need to know that you perform your research honestly, in a way that can be replicated and avoids publication bias. For scientists in fields that have this option, we ask that pledge-signers by default engage in pre-registration of trials, and have a clear explanation of why they chose not to if they did not do so that would be found reasonable by fellow scholars in that field. Lacking such a clear explanation may – depending on the situation and the nature of findings – be cause for finding a scientist in violation of the pledge. In that case, if the scientist does not retract the experiment or published paper, the scientist may be found in contempt of the pledge. Likewise, if two attempts to replicate the findings fail – in ways evaluated by peer scholars in the same discipline as reasonably approximating the original experiment – the scientist would be asked to retract the experiment or published paper. Additionally, if credible data analysis methods such as the GRIM test and other ways to detect deception or insufficient rigor in studies find a significant likelihood of a deceptive outcome, we would ask the scholar for a retraction. Again, there would be no “gotcha” games, and the scientist would have plenty of opportunities to present a defense, from an “innocent until proven guilty” perspective. The PTP mediating committee would only issue a ruling of the scientist being in contempt if the scientist refuses to retract the paper, so it would be a last resort after other options failed. It would also make sure to consult with and get the input of peers in the scholar’s discipline, to ensure that each scholar is evaluated based on the standards in that field. This special application of the pledge to scientists results from it being often really hard to determine if a scholar lied, since they are not fact checked and since they may have a very legitimate reason to go against the scientific consensus if they are breaking new ground. Because of these provisions of the pledge, those impacted by your research can have much more trust that your findings are credible, compared to someone who did not sign the pledge.

If you are an organizational leader, you have a need to be trusted, both within and outside your organization, as leading with integrity. The monitoring and penalizing mechanisms of the PTP offer that benefit. Abiding by the PTP means being honest with employees about challenging topics such as potential job cuts, avoiding manipulation of financial statements and other forms of “cooking the books,” avoiding misleading consumers and government regulators about your products, and so on. The PTP mediating committees welcome PTP advocates from inside organizations providing information demonstrating evidence of deceptions by organizational leaders and will readily use such documentation in its evaluations of pledge violations. It also welcomes external stakeholders of organizations providing information about PTP violations. Due to such monitoring, by internal and external stakeholders alike, organizational leaders who take the PTP have greater credibility than those who choose to avoid taking it.

If you are a private citizen, you need to trust that you are getting accurate information from officials, media figures and thought leaders, scientists, and organizational leaders. You also need to have a way of monitoring and penalizing those thought leaders who share false information. You also benefit from clear standards about what it means to have truth-oriented behavior, which the pledge outlines in detail. You gain the privilege of being part of a nonpartisan community of people who help support each other in abiding by the pledge in a compassionate, constructive manner. An additional benefit is having other people trust you more when you share information with them, since they know that you are being supported and monitored by fellow pledge-takers, thus ensuring a much higher likelihood of you avoiding sharing misinformation.

Finally, there are a number of benefits that accrue to all who take the pledge. All pledge-takers gain the benefits of cultivating socially beneficial – what many would call more moral and ethical – habits of mind, word, and deed. All gain the pride and self-satisfaction of standing up for your ethical and moral convictions. All gain the benefits in building a more truth-driven public culture, and fighting the pollution of truth in politics. All gain the benefit of being role models for others, whether ordinary citizens or public figures. All gain the benefit of joining a network of and collaborating with other truth-oriented people.

A candidate for Congress took the Pro-Truth Pledge. He later posted on his Facebook wall a screenshot of a tweet by Donald Trump criticizing minority and disabled children. After being called out on it, he went and searched Trump’s feed. He could not find the original tweet, and while Trump may have deleted that tweet, the candidate edited his own Facebook post to say that “Due to a Truth Pledge I have taken I have to say I have not been able to verify this post.” He indicated that he would be more careful with future postings.

A US Army veteran and member Special Operations community took the pledge. He then wrote a blog post about how it impacted him. He notes that “I’ve verbally or digitally passed on bad information numerous times, I am fairly sure, as a result of honest mistakes or lack of vigorous fact checking.” He describes how after taking the pledge, he felt “an open commitment to a certain attitude” to “think hard when I want to play an article or statistic which I’m not completely sold on.” Having taken the Pro-Truth Pledge, he found it “really does seem to change one’s habits,” helping push him both to correct his own mistakes with an “attitude of humility and skepticism, and of honesty and moral sincerity,” and also to encourage “friends and peers to do so as well.”

A Christian pastor and community leader took the Pro-Truth Pledge. He related how he “took the Pro-Truth Pledge because I expect our political leaders at every level of government to speak truth and not deliberately spread misinformation to the people they have been elected to serve. Having taken the pledge myself, I put forth the effort to continually gather information validating stories and headlines before sharing them on my social media outlets.”

A former US intelligence officer, who retired from service after 4 decades, took the Pro-Truth Pledge. He later described how soon after taking the pledge, a piece of news “that played right to my particular political biases hit cable TV and then the Internet and of course my first inclination was to share it as quickly and widely as possible. But then I remembered the pledge I’d signed and put the brakes on. I decided to wait a bit to see how it played out (and boy-howdy am I glad I did.)… As it turned out the story was a complete dud, ‘fake news’ as they say. That experience has led me to be much more vigilant in assessing, and sharing, stories that appeal to my political sensibilities. I now make a much bigger effort to fact-check before I post or share.”

Bill Cunnigham is a prominent conservative talk show host who had Trump on his show, and is ranked 27 among “Most Important Radio Show Talk Hosts” in America by Talkers Magazine. We were invited to talk with Cunningham about Trump’s allegations that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the 2016 presidential election. Using strategies informed by the Pro-Truth Pledge, we had a civil conversation and this strong supporter of Trump acknowledged that Trump behaved inappropriately in tweeting his allegations without providing any evidence.

We did an interview in October 2016 with the well-known Christian conservative radio show host Scott Sloan, who had previously had a friendly conversation with Trump during the election campaign. Using the tenets of the Pro-Truth Pledge, we discussed whether Trump or Clinton would make the US more secure. While others experienced great difficulties convincing Sloan to acknowledge facts, we provided evidence specifically targeted to prove convincing to Republicans. Namely, we showed that prominent Republicans who served in the national security apparatus thought Trump would make us less safe than Clinton. As part of doing so, we showed that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is not contributing to our security, due to the infinitesimally small chance of any given Muslim committing a terrorist attack. As a result, Sloan updated his beliefs and confirmed that from the perspective of safety, Trump is a worse choice than he previously thought.

The tenets of the Pro-Truth Pledge are sticky: people tend to remember them over time. For instance, after we did an interview in October 2016 on the radio show of the well-known Christian conservative radio show host Scott Sloan, we did another interview with him about a month afterward in November 2016. Sloan specifically recollected the October 2016 conversation where we talked about the low likelihood of any Muslim being a terrorist. He spontaneously stated that he remembered and re-affirmed that any individual Muslim is very, very unlikely to be a terrorist.

In January 2017, we had a radio interview with the well-known Christian conservative radio show host Scott Sloan, who had a friendly conversation with Trump during the election campaign. We talked with Sloan on why Republicans like himself should care about post-truth politics. After all, Trump won the presidency in part by using post-truth tactics, making it politically advantageous for Republicans to avoid calling out post-truth political engagement. We focused our conversation on key tenets from the Pro-Truth Pledge, and highlighted how post-truth politics would highly likely lead to corruption and authoritarianism. Since these issues are of major concern to Republicans as well as Democrats, Sloan agreed that Republicans should be concerned about post-truth politics and criticize lies, even by their own side. He subsequently showed greater willingness to acknowledge lies by Republicans, for instance on February 15, 2017 airing a segment about a Republican judge suggesting Trump should be impeached.

The 13 behaviors of the Pro-Truth Pledge can prevail even over very politically charged topics. The well-known Christian conservative radio show host Scott Sloan had a friendly conversation with Trump during the election campaign. We had a radio interview with Sloan two days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, where we compared the evidence supporting Trump’s explanation for the firing and the explanation of leading Democrats. We talked with Sloan about how behavioral science findings result in those with certain partisan beliefs to prefer the explanations offered by those who share their perspective. However, we then discussed with Sloan how many mainstream Republican leaders expressed concerns over Trump firing Comey and aligned more with the Democratic explanation. Thus, we encouraged Sloan to update toward that explanation. At the end of the conversation, Sloan did indeed change his mind more to perceive the Democratic narrative as more closely aligned with reality, and affirmed his previous commitment to acknowledging and criticizing lies from Republicans.

Public figures want to know that they will get recognition and positive reputation if they sign the PTP. The PTP Updates provide them with that benefit. We plan to send one every couple of weeks, with new public figures who signed the pledge, and also ones who signed it earlier to share about how they behaved differently due to having signed the PTP. The PTP would have a significantly bigger positive impact if the public figures knew that many people were signed up to the these updates. It would be especially impactful if you read through the updates and then Tweeted/emailed and otherwise messages public figures whose messages you appreciated in the PTP Update, especially ones in your locale. Still, despite this benefit, we decided not to make PTP Updates obligatory, to enable people who have a strong distaste for additional emails to participate in the PTP.

We need to put pressure on public figures who are in contempt of the pledge, and PTP Action Alerts are a vital way of doing so. Once a PTP mediating committee makes a determination that a public figure not simply made an innocent violation of the pledge, but engaged in an intentional deception and is unwilling to back away, it would issue an Action Alert to those who indicated they want to receive such alerts – either at the local, regional, or national level, depending on the stature of the public figure – for them to email/Tweet and otherwise message the public figure encouraging her/him to revise the relevant statements, and writing letters-to-the-editor about the situation. To have meaningful reputational pressure, we need as many people signed up to receive PTP Action Alerts, and to take the steps necessary to mount this pressure. Still, despite this benefit, we decided not to make PTP Action Alerts obligatory, to enable people who have a strong distaste for additional emails to participate in the PTP.

Having your address enables PTP advocates to know how many in their locale signed up to the PTP, and use this as a data point to advocate for public figures to sign the PTP. This is especially salient for local and regional elected officials, who always want to see the specific addresses of constituents to know who in their district signed the PTP. Another benefit of giving the address is that it enables PTP advocates who have the function of local organizers to reach out to you and help you participate in various PTP-oriented activities, getting you plugged into both Pro-Truth activism and Pro-Truth community activities. Finally, it enables us to send you PTP-related marketing materials that you can use to promote the pledge. Again, this is not obligatory but highly beneficial.

Sharing that you took the pledge via your media channels enables others to have a greater confidence that they can trust you more and rely on you to keep your word. Moreover, it enables others who took the PTP help you abide by the pledge, and offer guidance and support when you might mistakenly go against the tenets of the pledge. Additionally, it can help motivate other people to take the pledge if they know that you took it.

Pro-Truth advocates are people who want to contribute their time to advance the PTP and other truth-oriented activities. Regarding the PTP in particular, being a Pro-Truth advocate involves any combination of the following four activities: organizing, public promotion, lobbying, and monitoring/evaluating. In all cases, Pro-Truth advocates get various support and training from the PTP core organizers in their efforts.

  • If you do organizing, you would help recruit and coordinate other people in engaging in PTP-oriented activities. Being an organizer for the Pro-Truth Pledge involves organizing other people to ensure that the outcomes of the Pro-Truth Pledge are met, namely that: 1) The PTP is promoted to the public, getting more and more people to sign it; 2) There is effective lobbying of public figures, especially politicians, to get them to sign it; 3) There is effective monitoring of public figures who signed the pledge, evaluation of any potential pledge violations, behind-the-scenes efforts to get public figures to revise problematic statements, and if not, then public pressure on them to revise problematic statements. See the three sections below on the specific steps you would be recruiting people to do, and especially the first step on public promotion on how to help yourself recruit other advocates who you would then organize. You should also be able to jump in and do any of the three activities described below, so that you know how they are done and can step in if a volunteer needs a brief break, as well as have the familiarity with the tasks necessary to be able to manage volunteers doing any of the three. You need to find other organizers to help you have life balance and be able to step away for brief periods as life stuff comes up. Finally, you need to be able to form a virtual or in-person community for volunteers to help them feel motivated and engaged and invested in the project. If you have leadership, follow-through, and planning skills, you may well make a good organizer.
  • If you do public promotion, you engage in finding venues to tell private citizens about the PTP and encourage them to take it. This may involve solely focusing on people in your locale, for instance finding opportunities to speak about it at rallies, service clubs, churches and secular groups, schools and universities, and any other venues. A super-easy way to promote the pledge is to purchase and wear PTP-themed merchandise, especially when you do PTP-themed activities, but also just out and about – it’s a great conversation starter. Alternatively, you can focus on social media, and go to various Facebook groups or Reddit subreddits to promote the PTP there. You can write blogs or letters-to-the-editor about the pledge. You can do a combination of all of the above, and any other things involved in getting the PTP out there. Then, as people get involved, you can either help organize them to promote the pledge, or connect them to another PTP advocate who does organizing. Here is a link to a documents folder that you can use with fliers, a sign-up form, and the option to make a binder for people to sign the PTP. Use these instructions and the materials in the folder linked above to create a PTP sign-up binder, which is very convenient to use when gathering signatures for the PTP in-person, and here is a link to a video with PTP-specific training on doing in-person signature gathering. If you have good communication skills, you would likely make a good promoter.
  • If you do lobbying, you would work to get various public figures to sign the pledge. This may involve approaching the minister of your church or secular group leader, or local journalists and academics, or your boss in the company where you work, and convincing them to sign the pledge. This may involve traditional lobbying, such as going to the office of a politician to get her/him to sign the pledge. You can also get private citizens to sign the pledge and sign a separate statement calling for their local representatives to sign the pledge, putting pressure on the politicians. After you go to meet with a politician several times and the politician still refuses to sign the pledge, you can go to friendly media contacts – ideally ones you got to sign the pledge earlier – and tell the contact about the situation, as well as show them the signatures of ordinary citizens asking the politician to sign the pledge. This may result in a news story that would both spread word about the pledge and put some pressure on the politician to sign it, or be perceived as having something to hide. The benefits section of the PTP FAQ should serve you well in advocating for such public figures to sign the pledge. If you have good networking and advocacy skills, you probably would be a good lobbyist.
  • If you do monitoring and evaluating, you would keep track of public figures, and to a lesser extent private citizens, who took the pledge, and make sure they abide by it. You would read through their social media feeds and speeches, observe their actions, and browse their press releases. If you find something that smells fishy to you, you would investigate whether it violates the PTP. If you think it does, you would follow the process outlined above on punishments for violating the pledge. Those who have served for a while and successfully in monitoring may apply to be evaluators, sitting on the committee of vetted volunteers who evaluates compliance with the PTP and makes rulings about whether someone is in contempt.

If you are a private citizen, just email us and we will list you as having taken the pledge and later renouncing it. If you are a public figure, do the same, but keep in mind that any investigations will keep going. If we find a violation of the pledge, and you refuse to retract your statements, you will be listed as both in contempt of the pledge and also as having renounced it. This last clause is intended to make sure that public figures do not simply renounce the pledge when they have deliberately lied and want to renounce their taking of the pledge to avoid the negative reputation consequences of a ruling against them.

The PTP was written by a group heavy on social scientists and its implementation is organized by a non-partisan group of volunteers. It is part of a broader Rational Politics (RAP) project, which gathers thoughtful citizens of all political stripes devoted to fighting post-truth politics, meaning politics focused on emotions and personal beliefs and rejecting objective facts. We see these political methods as one of the worst problems for our global society in terms of how important, neglected, and solvable it is. In addressing this issue, we aim to use best practices in communicating and marketing both to get people to care about truth in politics and to provide them with the tools and resources to use evidence and reason in making wise political decisions that will benefit our society as a whole. To do so, we are launching the Pro-Truth Movement to bring us from our post-truth present into a post-lies future. RAP is a subproject of Intentional Insights (InIn), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting rational thinking and wise decision-making in politics and other areas of life to bring about an altruistic and flourishing world. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, InIn does not engage in types of partisan political activity prohibited by the IRS, and the PTP is a form citizen advocacy for the non-partisan value of truth in politics and other areas relevant to our public sphere.

Facts Search Engine

We have created a custom Google search engine made from many reputable sources. Enter your search in the box below and click the grey button to the right.

It uses the Google Custom Search Engine and searches the following sites which are currently considered reliable sources. Please let us know if you have sources you suggest or if you have reason to believe any of these organizations should no longer be considered reliable sources.