Page 1 of 1 1
Topic Options
#30895 - 09/25/02 10:34 AM Issues of Trust: judging the reliability of resources
Ria Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 497
Loc: Massachusetts, USA

Offline
How do you judge the reliability of the books and web pages you consult for information? What with the huge amounts of information being published daily, especially on the internet, it's hard to tell how trustworthy a given source is--especially if you're dealing with an unfamiliar subject. So, how do you decide whether a web page or book is worth the bytes or paper it takes up? Do you judge books and printed publications differently that you do their cyber equivalents?
Top
#30896 - 09/25/02 01:28 PM Re: Issues of Trust: judging the reliability of resources
SusyQ
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 109
Loc: Seattle

Offline
Good question. With internet materials, I tend to go first to online versions of established and respected print journals. I actually trust these more than most printed materials because in my field, medicine, the information outdates so quickly. If it's a website that I find through a search engine, on the other hand, then I look to see who or what it cites as informaton sources and judge from that.

As far as printed sources--again, I tend to go with established and respected sources first, especially if there's a potential legal angle (i.e., work-related) to whatever I'm researching.

When it comes to judging sources for personal use, such as newspapers and political/historical books and websites for example, I think that's harder. Almost all of these are biased in some way, which is fine as long as you can recognize that and read a variety of viewpoints. With some sources, the bias is glaringly apparent; others are more subtle. I haven't really found a good method for finding just a few reliable and relatively neutral sources for researching issues in the Middle East, for example. Suggestions for a more systematic approach would be welcome. Or maybe it's just naive or intellectually lazy to think that I could ever find any unbiased material on subjects like world history, foreign policy and domestic politics.

Top
#30897 - 09/25/02 02:56 PM Re: Issues of Trust: judging the reliability of resources
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

Offline
I always like to ask myself, "Who wrote and published this, and why?" And like SusyQ, I look for references. If the information on a web site purports to be factual but has no information about how it was gathered, I'm skeptical (even when it's stuff I'd like to believe; "Bushisms" on Slate always makes me laugh, but they almost never say where they get their information and I don't think all the quotes are accurate). As for simple bias, there's nothing like getting a variety of viewpoints. And a source that you know is biased in one direction is not necessarily a terrible thing; you just have to consider the bias as you go.
Top
#30898 - 09/25/02 04:14 PM Re: Issues of Trust: judging the reliability of resources
Marina
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/04/02
Posts: 65

Offline
I do a lot of travel-destination research for work, and you'd be surprised how many publications (even fairly big, well-respected series) have false, incomplete, or "urban myth" information. When I'm trying to find the real story, I'll generally start with a guide I trust (online or off) or the Encyclopedia Britannica; from there, I figure that other articles that adhere to the basic facts I find in the reputable source are probably, for the most part, also reputable.

I'm also pretty skeptical of "facts" that only one source turns up. Independent corraboration is always a good thing.

Top
Page 1 of 1 1


Moderator:  Ria 
Hop to: