Do you feel that people trust the internet too much for information?


9 Years
Jul 26, 2010
What sort of things have you found out on the internet, that you felt were inaccurate?

How do you decide what web sites have dependable information?
I tend to have my trust in websites that end in *.edu or *.net or *.org than *.com when it comes to information, although it also depends on how well-known the website is. I'm pretty sure that the information obtained on the ABC News website at is pretty accurate.

When it comes to poultry information, it's sometimes hard to discern which sites are more accurate. At the end of the day, I've found the most accurate information comes from websites that are affiliated with University extensions (*.edu).
IMO everything has a bias, even government or university studies or statements. I feel it is a fact that if it was written by a human it has inherent bias. (Granted some sources are more wacky than others...) I like the variety/contrast of information on the Internet. I can look at both sides of the coin from various perspectives..
Then make my own judgment call..

Sorry my answer was not direct...
If I were to answer your question my personal bias would be in play....

I too like .edu..

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Yes!! I used to be a medical librarian and it was a chore and a half to teach people that a slick web site does not necessarily equal dependable scientific information. Then I went off to nursing school and eventually found myself teaching nursing undergrads in their junior year clinicals-- the stuff they would cite in their papers made my hair curl. Good programming skills can disguise "The Institute For Research Into Making Stuff Up From My Mom's Basement" pretty well. Equally scary are the well-endowed corporate sites touting new drugs/procedures/whatnot that are so slanted it's a wonder they don't tip over. My kids are getting a healthy dose of Don't Believe Everything You Read with a side order of Trust But Verify. I hope it's enough.
I know I try to find multiple sources before I trust the info. Certain news sites have slants one way or the other, so reading several gives you a more balanced and probably more accurate version. I tend to trust .edu sites more than .com sites, but this is not an absolute. I also am more likely to trust something like the New England Journal of Medicine online than something vaguely medical citing the "latest news in medicine". I don't trust Wikipedia at all, but will use it to get a general idea.

I guess in general, I trust the online sources that I would trust in person. An article in the New York Times is going to trusted more than the Daily Fishwrap of Podunk.

I think lots of people just believe what they read or hear with no filters whatsoever. If it is on the internet it must be true, seems to be a working philosophy for many. I recently judged a science fair (elementary level) and the directions clearly said no sources such as Wikipedia or just Google. I had to mark down several students who couldn't tell me where their photos or information came from. They had just said "Google Images" for their citation.
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Can I just say, I think people trust too much when it comes to information. So very few places, in the cyber world or in 'real' life have information that is reliable. I've realized that I am trusting farming books written 60 to 80 years ago as more reliable than most recent books that push a corporate agenda -- plus 80 years ago, the people who read books were more educated. My "New Garden Encylopedia" book written in 1936 has the thickest definition of what a fruit is. My "Feeds and Feeding" book from the same era is thick, well written and made to inform, for the farmer's benefit.

In order to discern what is true, one needs to hone their filter to a trust worthy belief system. Any media source, any government source, any educational source is pushing an agenda that is hard to see... you gotta stand strong on what you KNOW is true in order to know if they are manipulating you for their gain or yours. (Think about all the disinformation on how unhealthy eggs were 20 years ago.....)
This is the first chance I had to get back to this thread. Really interesting responses.

I tend to go to research studies too, but I also try to get an idea of how the study was reviewed, and by whom, and what sort of reviews they had to go through to get approved and get through each of their gateways along the way to publication.

I used to be put off by studies that used very small numbers of subjects, and I still have some major discomforts with that depending on the type of data and study. If you're looking at a very basic cellular process in a planaria and all planaria are exceptionally similar, I am not distraught by small samples of data. Sure there's always the chance you may miss that planaria that is a chef and watches NPR and isn't quite typical of planaria, but it's unlikely.

On the other hand, if they're talking about which people seem to get the sickest with schizophrenia and why, that gets a little trickier.

Not because I don't believe the principles of randomization or sampling, but because - well - because research data simply doesn't 'behave' and conclusions aren't always as obvious as they might seem.

People think of math as dull. Boring. Dry. Something in dreary black and white books. Something someone makes you do.

In fact, math is - it's like that Balrog thing in The Lord of the Rings. A thing from the depths of Moria. It's just sitting there, wating, straining, just WAITING for some moron who doesn't quite get what terrible things it can do - so it can get out and run rampaging through the countryside.

So if you don't watch what you're doing with Math, Math starts eating Gandalf and all the little hobbits.

And compared to Math, Statistics are - well - they're like a whole fleet of Balrogs.

So even juried, even reviewed, even in a prestigious journal - I'm STILL reading the snot out every single one of their procedures and methods and all the questions any reviewer asked and how they were dealt with (OR NOT...hint...hint...hint).

I love research reviewers. They are - well - they're snotty. They're mean. They are basically looking for a mistake, with a fiendish sort of glee that very few other professions can come close to - to coming close to.

That happens WAY before I believe it - AND wanting to see not ONE STUDY - but HUNDREDS of them - slightly different methods, calculations, assumptions, ways of recruiting participants, ways of EXCLUDING DATA....(hint hint hint hint) that STILL lead them to the same inexorable, inescapable SAME conclusions.
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There are certain nutrition and diet sites that keep getting mentioned on this forum. I find for the most part, when I start looking at the people who run the sites, the research they cite and the overall information on the website, they come up short, at least for me. I don't really trust "scientific data" that is 40-50 years old and not published in a peer reviewed journal. This is particularly true, for me, on issues of diet and nutrition. Diet and nutrition have become the new religion, with anyone not following a particular orthodoxy is demonized. Eat carbs....obviously uninformed and ignorant, eat meat........cruel, unthinking murderer, eat fat.........poor unfortunate fool will die of stroke tomorrow.

I worked, ages ago, in a lab that was involved in hearing research. One of the labs in our building would publish studies, done on animals, with very low numbers sample numbers in their studies. The doctor, who's lab was doing the research, was very well respected in his field and fact had written a definitive textbook on the subject. However, I was always surprised when the articles didn't get bounced back simply because of the small sample size of 3-4 subjects. Another lab in this group did a lot of research on pharmaceuticals, and accepted funding from Big Pharm.

Welsummer, I think your approach to data mining and determining what information is good actually makes a lot of sense.
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