As a blog writer, I take the responsibility of testing veracity seriously; but there are others who simply pass along content gleaned elsewhere. And, to be perfectly honest, we all have bias and prejudice in our vocabulary and have to be aware of writing content that is misleading or downright wrong.
But, there are occasions where it may be difficult to tell if the writer is being an advocate of a particular position or trying to hide an intention to influence. I have written reviews on these pages in the form of buyer protection. As an example, I reviewed two “glow in the dark phosphorescent paints” and panned them both. It was not that I did not like the manufacturers; it was because I tried the products and they failed to work as advertised. And, I made it clear why they failed and what I had expected. I also faulted the shoddy and misleading advertising of laundry detergent products and how much to use. But, I supported my conclusions with experiments. But, we are all human and can make mistakes. That is why we have the comment section. I have been corrected before and will be again and I appreciate reader’s thoughts and opinions.
So, how can we increase the odds that the information we are reading is accurate, timely, and relevant? Please notice that I said increase the odds and not “be certain”. First, consider the source and the relative weight that the source has. Despite the fact that Wikipedia has become a trusted heavyweight in providing information, I have found many mistakes. Some are trivial but others are significant. But, the contributors to the site often have to provide references or citations backing up their writing. It is somewhat like providing footnotes to a paper before we all trusted the internet. Follow the links and then check other sites for the same subject. (For a link to the reliability of Wikipedia, see the discussion here). Does the site have advertising and if so, does it relate to the content? Read the comments section and watch for “plants” that are designed to support the claims of the post or information.
Second, check the author and look for qualifications. Some are valid, and some are not. This is called the confirmation bias or acceptance of authority argument. Some may actually be Ph D’s and some are just added fluff. Also, see when the article was written to test relevance. Many writers fail to date the information hoping to make it appear relevant.
Third, be reasonable in reading information. While it may be good information, it may also be an opinion wrapped in pretty paper. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is not. As has been said before, trust, then verify…