This irks me a great deal, we all know that not everything online (and in books for that matter) can be trusted as as factual as it's being presented. What are some things we can look for to help us identify questionable articles and information, and what are your gripes?
Personally what I detest is when writers either A) misrepresent data to cause an emotional reaction in the reader, or B) prey on the emotions of the reader to get them to accept skewed data or charged interpretations of the information. Basically when people pick at our emotions to try to manipulate how we see the world around us, or affect our behavior.
We know this is an established tradition that's been used to validate all sorts of cultural gobbletygoop for centuries, and it's not going to stop anytime soon. But how can we protect ourselves from lying logic-disrupters, and help ourselves and our pupils discern well and make good decisions?
Furthermore, what measures can we take to present information in a way that's easy to fact-check, and to allow our readers to use their brains to see our points without resorting to logical fallacies?
It's true that not everyone cares enough to research for themselves, so a lot of people are easy to manipulate/need to be led on account of their disinterest or ineptitude. There's not much we can do to protect these if we're not part of their daily lives. But I think that what we can do is to share as much useful and tried information as possible, to help increase the shared/common knowledge pool (especially about permaculture!) to make it easier for people to cooperate in a wholesome manner going forward.
You can see with only one eye open, but you'll probably run into things and stub your toe. The big picture matters.
For me it helps to read/watch/listen to enough of a person's content to begin to get a sense of their personal philosophy and point of view. Here on permies, many people post frequently about their own experiences and observations, so one can get an idea of how they develop their practices, and any biases they may consistently exhibit. I find most people here on permies to be straight-forward and ready to answer questions about their techniques. People who are evasive don't seem to stick around here for long.
Sadly I have reached the point that if a site or source is new to me, I have to assume it's a "door to door sales rep" trying to sell me something until I see otherwise. It feels like the amount of real data on the internet has gone from 99% 20 years ago to now 10%, and the amount of advertising has went from 1% of total data to 90%.
It's common marketing practice to play up an emotional response for a perceived problem, building up the response as much as possible, then dropping the solution with a big easy to click purchase link.
I think it's quite hard to properly fact check anything online. A hundred web sites might all say the same thing, but if they are all repeating the same wrong info it doesn't make it right. Even non-internet sources can be wrong, intentionally or not. Remember when the sugar industry hired doctors to perjure themselves to congress in the 1970s about the safety of sugar use? Which got the US to demonize "unhealthy" fat and replace it with "healthy, low-fat" sugar? Each decade a new diet comes up claiming to fix our ever growing weight problems, without addressing the underlying issue of relying on "industrial" foods with dropping nutritional value.
I better crawl off this soapbox before I fall off, waving my arms about like this!
I look for the sales pitch or hook. What are they trying to sell? Who paid for the research?
Also usually blatant is the emotional jab. If they're trying to make you angry or upset, they are clearly not wanting you to think rationally.
Good luck trying to sort fact from fiction. If you're careful, it's only the really hard-working, clever scheisters that will get you and your money.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Tyler Ludens wrote:For me it helps to read/watch/listen to enough of a person's content to begin to get a sense of their personal philosophy and point of view. Here on permies, many people post frequently about their own experiences and observations, so one can get an idea of how they develop their practices, and any biases they may consistently exhibit. I find most people here on permies to be straight-forward and ready to answer questions about their techniques. People who are evasive don't seem to stick around here for long.
I agree pretty much with Tyler's statement.
Something I look for, both with online posts and with books, is a journal- or diary-like way of reporting. Let's say someone has been experimenting or working with a particular approach to achieving something. I give some creedance if they can recount, say, five years worth of experience (10 is even better) — and if they report both their failures (shortcomings, frustrations) on the one hand, and their success on the other, so much the better. I don't really trust anything that is just a report on two or three years experience with something.
I don't really mean that the style of presentation has to be like a journal, but that the reference to someone's multi-year experience is there. And I feel that is something that is kinda hard to fake.
My online educational sites:
And then we all jump out and yell "surprise! we got you this tiny ad!"