Where did you get that?

Posted on April 28, 2010

It isn’t enough nowadays to spout a statistic and think you’ve contributed to the conversation.  Sometimes it’s more important to know where that statistic was generated.

A friend of mine forwarded  me an article that looked like it came directly from the New York Times.  This article had “all the facts” on the healthcare reform legislation debate. While it had excellent information, it seemed a bit one-sided as I agreed with everything it said. Being the skeptical researcher that I am, I found the titled article in the NYT website archives and compared versions. Lo and behold, there were contrary facts in the archived article that happened to be missing from the circulating one.

This is when you need to be careful. Nothing in the forwarded article was false. All of it had been published in the NYT. However, if I had been relying on the emailed article for all of the facts, I would have been projecting only half the story, and a false interpretation of the  NYT information.  

In another example, I had a “medical” survey cross my inbox touting the exceptional health benefits of a certain herbal remedy. Nothing in the survey remotely suggested any negative consequences.  When I brought the survey facts up in a dinner conversation, I was told of several studies refuting them. In doing a little checking afterwards,  I found the institute that conducted my survey research just happened to be wholly funded by the company that sells the product. Interesting how that works.  

So, in this day and age of information overload and ‘anything goes’ on the Web, be a little skeptical and put your research hat on. Digging a little deeper will get you to the real story based on substantiated facts. And that makes you a real treasure in this information-skewed world.

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