I read a blog today on Scientific American titled “Finding good information on the internet” that makes an excellent follow up to my previous post. I highly encourage reading the post in its entirety. The main point that the post makes is that the best source of information on the internet (or anywhere) is directly from scientific journals. Everything else is just so much more prone to error. Journal articles aren’t really as hard to read as you might expect, especially if you just read the abstract and conclusion (what I usually do). If one does use non-journal information, a very critical eye must be used in evaluating the information contained therein. Some sites are better than others: companies, politician’s, activist websites, etc tend to be heavily biased towards their own point of view. News sites are more trustworthy, but tend to be written by non-experts. As it turns out, Wikipedia tends to be one of the best non-journal sources of information. (1) One of the greatest obstacles to properly educating oneself is the shear volume of misinformation on the internet. I would even go so far as to say that, for controversial topics such as vaccinations and Anthropogenic Climate Change, the only trustworthy sources of information are scientific journals.
(1) McCluney, Kevin. “Finding good information on the internet.” Scientific American. 16th Jul, 2011. Available: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=finding-good-information-on-the-int-2011-07-16