Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teasing out the Truth

I got in a debate with someone over the safety of a particular medication used in goats. During the course of the discussion, the person quoted from a website that sells a homeopathic alternative remedy. The website had all sorts of information claiming that the chemical medication was bad news and that it can cause brain damage. Now, I am not saying that this information was wrong or that it wasn't the truth -- the problem I had with it was a) it came from a website that was trying to sell an alternative to the product in question, and b) the website contained no references, citations, or sources for their information. Nothing at all in the text of the website hinted in the least from where this information had come, or what date it was produced. When I questioned the person who I was debating on the accuracy of their choice of quotation, their rebuttal was that this was just a copy of the information that they had seen in multiple places on the internet -- thus it must be the TRUTH!

The problem I have with that logic is that just because it is copied on multiple websites all over the internet, that doesn't make it truthful or accurate information. Millions of people can "cut and paste" whatever they want from wherever they want. Copyright infringement means almost nothing in the land of the internet. The amount of times a particular piece of information is repeated does nothing to make it more correct. I urge everyone who is doing research on anything via the internet (or any other media form for that matter) to be sure to check references, look for citations, and go to the source of the information. If the theory in question does not have any substantiated scientific proof to back it up, then you should keep on moving. Of course, there are some ideas on the internet that aren't scientifically researched. Those ideas should be examined very carefully and numerous sources should be looked into.

It's incredibly easy for one piece of terrible information to be "THE TRUTH" and live a life of its own on the internet. Look at the whole idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea has be debunked so many times and the original creator of this massive falsehood actually had his medical license revoked and his journal publications rescinded due to the misleading nature of his research into the matter. There isn't one shred of scientifically-backed proof to lead to this idea and yet, it continues to live and breath to this day on the internet. It's taken on a life of its own to the point that parents actually refuse to get their children vaccinated for such horrible diseases as mumps, measles, polio, and hepatitis.

I behoove you to be skeptical when looking up stuff on the internet. I behoove you to look closely at your sources before you use them as proof of your argument.


* Crystal * said...

I've had those debates.

Friend of mine was dead set on strictly herbal dewormers, she read online that chemical wormers would KILL her goat.

I advised her to fecal & use a proper dewormer (in her case there was a heavy baberpole worm)....her doe was in sad shape, anemic, lethargic, underweight, pale eyelids.

Instead she tubed to doe with ACV as instructed from someone online & doubled the herbal dewormer dose.

Two days later, the doe died :-(

I've got to the point, I offer advice, try to help, but I won't fight over it anymore.

Any info I get online I double check it throughly.

Rose said...

I agree. Double check, triple check, quadruple check any information you get via the internet! Be sure to analyze where the information was posted, where it came from originally, and if it was skewed by the author. The internet is a great source of info, but it is up to the reader to analyze that info.

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