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Are You Sure?

They say you can’t believe what you see and hear on the Internet. They (whoever “they” are?) may be right. At the end of the day, the savvy surfer should consider the source.

Who better to trust than academia? (Maybe, yes. Maybe, no.) Advice from Michigan State University reads, “The Internet is a valuable source of information, however caution must be taken to assure the information is correct.”

Caution indeed. Like this web page from the library at Georgetown University which offered considerable guidance on the reliability of web-based information which began with, “Unlike similar information found in newspapers or television broadcasts, information available on the Internet is not regulated for quality or accuracy.”

Really? Television (and radio) broadcasts come under the regulatory thumb of the Federal Communications Commission, so they are regulated. There is, however, some debate as to how far the federal arm extends into cable television, satellite and streaming. On the other hand, aside from copyright and libel laws, and the like, newspapers are generally unregulated.

The page goes on to say, “Ask yourself these three questions before using resources from the Internet.” What followed were sections labeled “Author” with nine questions; “Purpose” followed by seven questions; “Objectivity” followed by six questions; “Accuracy” followed by five questions; “Reliability and Credibility” followed by six questions; “Currency” followed by two questions; and “Links” followed by four questions. Apparently those “three questions” were hidden in the following seven sections sporting a total of 39 questions. Sounds like, “Physician, heal thyself.”

That section did conclude with some insightful advice: “Be very critical of any information you find on the Web and carefully examine each site.”

Ah, concurrence. Michigan State and Georgetown do seem to agree on something.

All of which leaves the basic question unanswered. How much information found on the internet is accurate? How about this? The website states that almost 62 percent of the internet is made up of unreliable information. This according to data they collected from Ireland’s Center Statistics Office (CSO).

One of the biggest developments in technology is the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). Interestingly, a considerable search of the internet (including AI prompts) yielded no hard numbers about the accuracy of AI. The closest thing to a definitive answer was “it varies.” 368

“Care more for the truth than what people think.”

– Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher

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