SoundCheks grew out of a blog called Malark-O-Meter by Ben Hanowell. The blog statistically analyzed fact checkers' rulings to comparatively judge the soundness of the 2012 U.S. presidential candidates, and measure our certainty in those judgments. Ben wrote the blog while conducting field research as an anthropologist and Fulbrighter in the Commonwealth of Dominica, a Lesser Antillean island nation.
Watching the rise of fact-checking as a journalistic genre, Ben became obsessed with its promise but also its limitations. Fact checkers say they check the facts even when they're mainly checking the logic of a claim. Few reputable fact-checkers systematically analyzed the bias – partisan or otherwise – of fact-checking coverage. Finally, fact-checkers are reluctant to aggregate their rulings into scores of individuals or groups.
Ben began thinking of methods to overcome these limitations. Now, SoundCheks is testing out its methods while figuring out how to fund its own development through hosting live debates and other means.