“I asked: ‘How do you know if this is true or not?’ ‘It looks like most everything on the Web,’ my daughter replied. ‘Look for an author,’ I prompted.” (Rheingold, Howard; Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, 2012)
After reading the quote above, I remembered one of many situations I’ve had directly related to the concept “crap detection” and the reliability of a source. -Charlee
So I love my mother-in-law. Sweetest. Lady. Ever. If you need something, she’ll be the first one to provide it. She’d bend over backwards for you in the blink of an eye. I consider her one of the most dependable people I am lucky enough to know. And as a very active in her community, she’s constantly posting and sharing freebies and helpful information via social media to her followers that may know people in need of assistance. However, sometimes I wonder how she gets by in the world without my husband and I pointing out the legitimacy of some of the “headlines” and Facebook posts she sends to us along with many others.
Earlier this year, I received a message from her warning about the dangers of Dasani water that was obtained from a shared post from someone else on Facebook. This one to be exact:
I’m sorry, what?
Instantly, my inner crap detector went off with alarm bells ringing at high alert. I was certain this was just a scare tactic by crazy health nuts on the web considering I’d never heard of the person who originally posted it. By the looks of it (and after doing a quick and easy search), I confirmed that they were not an expert in chemistry or food safety. Even someone who took basic chemistry in high school should realize that this was not a legitimate claim.
Instead of belittling her for believing this random post she found, I opted to find an article to disprove this claim that she’d easily believe over this “source.” I figured Time Magazine would do. Back in 2014, Time interviewed a professor at New York University who specializes in the fields of nutrition, food studies, and public health about the extra ingredients often placed in bottled water. In a nutshell, it’s to add flavor. Nothing scary about it.
After sending the link to my mother-in-law, she immediately messaged me back with the equivalent of a sigh of relief and thanked me for clearing up the misconception. I was happy to help her out and aid in disproving crazy speculations on the web. With so much floating around out there with people willing to hit the share button instantly without much thought, it’s tough to discern what’s real and what’s fake. Throughout my journeys as a proud skeptic, I’ve learned to stop right there, pick up my phone, and do a quick search online to see just how legitimate information given to me really is. Check the author. Check the publisher. Check the facts. I encourage her along with others to do the same. Break out the tinfoil hats, everyone!