Dissect by Watchdog: AI-powered text analysis tool for all of us
We were blown away by the potential of the mobile app for educational use, demonstrated by our guest speaker Rukshana Rizwie
Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit
In our last ANNIE Connect study group on Nov. 17, our guest speaker Rukshana Rizwie, a project manager at Watchdog in Sri Lanka, shared with us how Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark can be an inspiration in tackling misinformation.
She presented a 10-point checklist — an abbreviated version of Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit:
How reliable is the source of the claim?
Does the source make similar claims?
Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
Does this fit with the way the world works?
Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
We discussed that these questions are very useful for professional fact-checkers to go through when evaluating claims.
Meanwhile, this method may also be considered too convoluted for our students and regular news audiences to put into practice, especially if the target learners are the youths or elderly.
Some chapters in Sagan’s book can be great reading assignments for university students.
Giving a set of mental checklists is a great way to encourage students to go through a discerning thinking process.
Perhaps the simpler version of the same idea is the SIFT method by Mike Caulfield, who recently published a book titled “Verified” with a tagline: “How to Think Straight, Get Duped Less, and Make Better Decisions about What to Believe Online”
Dissect: AI-powered news text analysis tool
Rukshana also demonstrated Dissect, an AI-powered mobile APP developed by Watchdog that can critically examine articles on the Internet.
All of us were very impressed by this sophisticated app and its potential as a teaching tool.
Dissect can scan, read, and summarise web articles. It generates not only an overall summary but also identifies each claim made, its source, and the assumption underlying each claim.
The app also detects the names, institutions, and entities mentioned in the article.
If there is a corresponding Wikipedia page for them, it also links to the page for quick reference.
Furthermore, Dissect creates a timeline of events in the article when different dates are mentioned in the article.
The great news for educators is that the Dissect app will soon be available for you to try on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
At the moment, it can be used only for English-language text, but Rukshana said Watchdog is adding more language support in the near future.
Deconstructing news content in this fashion is a common method in news literacy education. Dissect automates some of the steps we encourage our students to go through.
It should be used after learners have developed a sufficient level of analytical mindset — just like how we tell learners to use calculators after mastering basic mental maths skills.
We cannot wait to play with it! Hopefully, it will become widely available soon!