The Truth is Out There!

30 11 2012

Searching for Facts vs. Fiction - Magnifying Glass

After weeks of searching online for evidence of whether people are more themselves online, I’ve learnt that people do open up and be themselves online BUT only in a safe environment. Online communities, where like-minded people can find each other, are more conducive to this than social media.  Here, a certain level of promoting the positive and concealing the negative goes on.

And what have I discovered about how to search for good, valid, concrete evidence?  I have tried a number of methods and sources.

  • News sites often take one small element of published research and focus a story on it.  That said, they can be a useful source if they quote Doctor X or Professor Y (which they love to do to give the article some validity!)  However, always check out the source material rather than taking the journalist’s interpretation of it!
  • Blogs are a good source of opinion but are only that – one person’s opinion.
  • Forums and online communities are invaluable for finding out first hand what people think and do, but care must be taken to act ethically.
  • Published papers are robust, systematic and peer reviewed, so a good source of information.  However, if subjects are interviewed, ecological validity may be lacking and their answers may not be a true reflection of what they do online.  That was why I quoted the paper I did, because they analysed the actual, ‘live’ activity on forums and communities.

bart-simpson-generator

Finally, I’ll leave the last word to Bart Simpson.  This advice can help us whether we’re undertaking an online search for information, or interpreting what other people are presenting as the truth.

Till next time!

Doctor de Bee

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