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There are many conspiracy theory websites, which contain a great deal of unreliable information. Examples include:
* Australian “private investigator” Joe Vialls, who died in 2005
* Conspiracy Planet
How can a journalist or a news consumer tell if a story is true or false? There are no exact rules, but the following clues can help indicate if a story or allegation is true.
* Does the story fit the pattern of a conspiracy theory?
* Does the story fit the pattern of an “urban legend?”
* Does the story contain a shocking revelation about a highly controversial issue?
* Is the source trustworthy?
* What does further research tell you?
The researcher was also able to find weblog entries (numbered 100 and 333, on June 26 and July 15, 2005) from the commanding officer of the platoon that was involved in the incident and another member of his platoon. The weblog entries made it clear that:
* the teenaged Iraqi boys were armed insurgents;
* after the firefight between U.S. troops and the insurgents was over, the dead, wounded and captured insurgents were initially photographed separated from their weapons because the first priority was to make sure that it was impossible for any of the surviving insurgents to fire them again;
* following medical treatment for the wounded insurgents, they were photographed with the captured weapons displayed, in line with Iraqi government requirements;
* the insurgents were hiding in a dense palm grove, where visibility was limited to 20 meters, not a likely place for a football game, and they were seen carrying the RPGs on their shoulders.