Cite Your Sources and Date Your Content: A Guide to Not Lying or Being Lied To


The internet is a great source of knowledge (and no it isn’t 90% porn). I’m amazed to see it continually evolve. The plethora of information right at your fingertips is truly astonishing. If this was a superhero movie the next line should be something like, “With great knowledge comes great responsibilities.” Unfortunately what actually has happened is with great knowledge comes greater inaccuracies. Because of the ease with which consumers can find information, and the ease of posting information, there is a substantial amount of misinformation. I think of myself as an informed, skeptical reader, but often times I have a difficult time telling which is pyrite. I recently was sent this article, Discover Why Avocados Should be Considered a Food of the Gods, due to my fondness for avocados. Case in point:

I started reading the article and found it very interesting until I got to these lines: “Thus the avocado provides all 18 essential amino acids needed by a body to create complete protein. Proteins represented by amino acids are easier to digest.”

Now it has been a while since I took biology but I was pretty sure amino acids were the building blocks of proteins and that there were approximately 10 amino acids that are essential to humans depending on how much stress the body is under. I then did a little bit of research to determine if I was at least in the ballpark. I mean there could have been a huge discovery that there are now 18 essential amino acids and all lizard people in government should get them through avocados.  You never know, things change. But as far as I can tell this one hasn’t. All proteins are groups of amino acids, so the statement “Proteins represented by amino acids are easier to digest,” is misleading at best. There are still approximately 10 essential amino acids, so this statement about avocados containing all 18 must be for a different species.

You see people doing or saying all kinds of crazy things because they read about them online, therefore they must be true.

Another big issue facing consumers is when the information was published. This may not matter as much in some cases, but often if it is too outdated it is all but useless. Putting a date on when the article was published sure seems like an easy thing to do, but you’d be surprised how often you read something and can’t find any dates. Keep an eye out as you troll the internet.

Falling into the trap of performing Hilarious exercises, practicing ridiculous diets, or attempting some other cockamamie scheme because you read an article by one of these people is dangerous and all too real. So if you’re going to write something do your best to cite credible sources, add a date, and hope your readers are smart enough to tell the difference between fact and fiction if you work with parodies. (#4 also looks for dates, they are important to establishing fact from fiction). If you are going to read something, ensure it is real and accurate before putting it into action.

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