Skip to Main Content
Ask A Librarian HoursLibrary CatalogArticle Databases RESEARCH SERVICESHELPINFORMATION FOR...

Critical Thinking Activity: Have You Ever Been Fooled?

Ice Breaker  Q: Have you ever been fooled by something you saw on the internet?  Instructions: For the following activity, you will see an image that may or may not be altered.  For each image, study the content and the context to see if you can determine whether or not it is REAL.
This is an image of a locker room full of football players, labeled Seattle Seahawks locker room, January 2016. The player at the forefront of the photo is holding a burning flag, and the surrounding players appear to be joyfully on board with this act.
This is the unaltered and original version of the previous image, with the only change being that the main person is not holding anything. That photo was altered, this is the real version.  A Critical Thinker may have noticed: The first image was a bit blurry.  The players’ faces are not looking down (because there is no burning flag to look at).
This is a photo of a giant frying pan on a beach, labeled Sydney, Australia, 2014.
That photo was real, and this is another photo of the same thing.  A Critical Thinker may have noticed: While it may have seemed altered, the image was crisp and the shadows made sense.
This is Emma Gonzalez, one of the teens who became an outspoken gun control activist after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (also referred to as the Parkland shooting). In this photo, Emma is ripping a large copy of the Declaration of Independence in two.
This is the original version of the previous photo, and it shows that Emma is actually ripping apart a target practice paper. It was altered to produce an entirely new and different meaning.   A Critical Thinker may have noticed: The previous photo is blurry, while shading and color changes are used to hide small differences in shadow and angles.
This is a photo of a smiling woman standing next to a very large soft-looking poofy animal with white fur, and the image is titled
This photo is the same one as the previous image, and it is real. This is Ida the English Angora and her owner Betty Chu. Betty is the owner of the only Angora rabbit that has ever won the Open Best in Show in the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeder Association) National Convention.   A Critical Thinker may have: Taken a moment to Google “World’s Fluffiest Bunny” in order to determine if there are credible sources attesting to the existence, such as this excerpt from an article website all about the Angora breed of rabbits:
This is a screenshot of a Tweet from Aug. 2017. It appears to be taken from a car window on a flooded highway, and depicts a shark swimming nearby in the floodwater. Above the image are the words
The image in the previous tweet was altered using a specific part of this photo, which is the real version.*  A Critical Thinker may have noticed: The depth of the water in the first image in relation to the concrete median. *This is the real photo. The image of the shark was initially captured by renowned National Geographic photographer Thomas P. Peschak off the coast of South Africa over 10 years ago, to capture images of white sharks in South Africa that would help depict the current scientific research.   The fake tweet was simply a joke, but quickly became viral as fact.
There are two kinds of bias.  First, Confirmation Bias:  “We see opinion with which we agree as fact and information with which we disagree as false.” (  “A key element of the battle between truth and propaganda has…to do with how people are much more likely to accept something if it confirms their beliefs.” (  Second, Inherent Bias: this happens when we are unaware of a bias we have, even towards things that don’t seem controversial or challenging to our beliefs.


  • We tend to think a referee made a good call when it is beneficial for our team, but if it goes against our team, there’s a good chance we will think the referee made a bad call.
  • Horoscopes tend to be highly interpretive, allowing people to believe it no matter what: you simply find the interpretation of the horoscope that supports your own perspective.
  • Internet algorithms help confirm our own biases because they learn about our preferences and present information to us that we’re most likely to enjoy and click on.
  • The halo effect is a type of bias where you see someone is excellent at one thing so assume they’re excellent at everything.
  • The horns effect is the opposite of the halo effect. It occurs when you believe someone is bad, so you see everything they do negatively.

Source:  Cornell, B and Drew C. (2023, September 13) 17 Confirmation Bias Examples. HelpfulProfessor.

Image of a brain with sparkling synapses, followed by the quote: “When we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.” - T.S. Eliot, The Perfect Critic, 1921.


Be Skeptical 

Snip of tweet by Andy @plainly_andy, replying to @laracroftbarbie: "I still can't believe this is true" she should really lean into that instinct imo - Dated Oct. 4, 2023