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This 'easy quiz' reveals a danger to our democracy

Part of our series on National News Literacy Week
Easiest Quiz of All Time
Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 13:17:12-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- On first glance, the questions seem obvious. It is called the Easiest Quiz of All Time, after all.

The online exam starts by asking for that famous quote from the villain in that classic lightsaber movie. Another query is about the name of the U.S. National Park service’s mascot bear.

LINK: TAKE THE CHECKOLOGY QUIZ HERE

These are ubiquitous pop culture references. We all know the answers, right?

Actually, the Easiest Quiz of All Time isn’t easy at all. The quiz, developed by the non-profit News Literacy Project, quickly reveals the perils of assumption, the limits of our collective memory, and the importance of seeking out reliable information.

From high school students to adults with PhDs, studies show we can all fall victim to misinformation online. That’s why ABC 10News and our parent company E.W. Scripps are teaming up with NLP for the second annual National News Literacy Week from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29.

The five-day campaign is designed to arm the public with 21st century tools to sort fact from fiction and highlight the importance of healthy news consumption for our democracy.

The Project has been teaching people to spot misinformation since 2008, when the group was founded by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist named Alan C. Miller.

Miller started the organization after visiting his daughter’s middle school class to speak about the importance of journalism. He realized there was a need for similar conversations in classrooms across the country.

“Students need to learn how to be able to evaluate and verify information for themselves,” said John Silva, NLP’s senior director of education and training. “It's really about understanding how to take a step back, the right questions to ask, and the right ways of using verification tools to figure out what's authentic and what's not.”

The group primarily works with teachers and high school students through an online classroom called Checkology that became free for everyone this year. The lessons try to drive home the points that posts can be misleading and pictures can be manipulated. They encourage students to use a technique called lateral reading, a way of cross-checking information against credible sources before sharing it online.

A new lesson called “Conspiratorial Thinking” examines why conspiracy theories develop and how to prevent people from falling for them.

NLP also offers in-person training for educators, a podcast called “Is that a fact?” and an app called that tests and builds news literacy skills called Informable.