If it's on the web it must be true?
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When I was young I used to think that anything that was written in a book MUST be true? After all, books have publishers, and there are all sorts of people who are paid to check everything right?
Of course not – there is no single magical arbitrator who decides whether the content of a particular book is “true”. Luckily I have had some amazing teachers during my life, especially at university, who helped me to develop critical thinking skills which have in turn allowed me to engage with anything I read with I’d like to call a healthy reserve.
Enter the Internet; a wonderful tool which allows pretty much anyone with a simple mobile phone these days to get their message and story out to the world. But in the day and age of self-publishing critical thinking and analysis skills become more and more important.
I am pretty confident that if you picked any theory and searched for arguments, in favour or against it on the Internet – you’d be able to find an equal number of individuals professing their support for either.
Yet, many people do not engage critically enough with the information they access on the Internet. And doing this is important for so many reasons: when you’re looking for information related to your health and wellness; when you’re looking for sources for school/university assignments (and don’t forget to credit); or when you’re looking for employment opportunities.
I have a couple of tips:
- Look for a name on the website/ check who wrote the article – is there a bio? Do they have authority to be speaking on the issue?
- Ask yourself why the person saying something would make you want to believe what they are saying – what do they have to gain or lose?
- Spend some time looking at what other people are saying about the same thing – try to get multiple viewpoints.
- When it was written – has thinking on the issue changed drastically since the text was written?
- When in doubt ask someone you know and trust.
If you have any tips please share them and we’ll do a follow up post on this.