Friday, 20 May 2011


Information spreads quickly on the internet, particularly through social networks like facebook and twitter. Someone learns an interesting factoid, finds a meaningful quote, sees an inflammatory news item, funny video, etc. and immediately shares it with their friends. Very often these tidbits are copied and pasted from friends' status updates or blogs without much thought. I've certainly been guilty of this myself.

It's only natural that misinformation travels through these channels, and it's actually nice to see that only a small portion of shared items (at least from my social group) are blatant conspiracy garbage.

So how can you tell if what you're reading is cow turd, anyway? Read the references! Most of these articles/blog posts/websites have links to the evidence they say backs up their claims. The recent DCA hysteria, documented and debunked nicely in Arstechnica, is a great example of this. It took me about 5 minutes to click on a couple of links from the original page to figure out that this was written by someone who 1) does not understand the process medical treatments need to go through from initial lab tests to treating people, 2) has not done high school level cell biology, and 3) does not have good reading comprehension.

The lesson here is that when you come across something that sounds like a conspiracy or is too good to be true, follow a few links from the source. It doesn't take long to figure out if it's legitimate or crazy talk. Read the references, people!

1 comment:

  1. I ♥ Unqualified Statements. As the years go by I find myself more and more cynical. There is so much untruth in all 'news' reported by all forms of media. Fox was right, the truth is out THERE - as in its somewhere else.