(image snapped from Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus)
While I knew many people had difficulty understanding and accepting scientific papers as a basis for discussion and argument (mostly because whenever facts contradict opinion, the people on the wrong side of the facts take issue with them,) I didn’t know that some people had difficulty telling solid facts from conjecture, and that people had that much difficulty actually finding studies pertinent to the things they’re researching or interested in.
To that end, this piece from Scientific American about how to find and tell good information from bad information on the Internet is one of those “bookmarkable” stories – the kind you send to people when you find that their entire argument rests on horribly outdated or disproven information. They start off with this gem, and move on to some tips on how to find good information, corroborate it, and interpret it:
The internet empowers us to educate ourselves and make more informed choices and decisions without leaving our couches. But if we believe everything we find on the internet, we are likely to wind up making some very poor decisions. In this new digital information age, how do we keep from being misinformed? As a skeptical environmental research scientist and educator I have picked up a few tricks that anyone can use to find and select high-quality information from the internet.
One of my favorites is how to find and use scientific papers (and not to be afraid of scientific papers when you find them) and of course, to be careful which web sites you trust. The whole piece is worth a read, but admittedly, many of us are already familiar with these tips: