I know, to most of you this is basic stuff. But sometimes it is good to revisit the basics. I like the part about confirmation bias, which I and my fellow enviros fall for all the time…
You know how to tell if something controversial is actually true, but what if you want to read up on something without stumbling into half-truths and pseudoscience? Here’s how to use the internet as a powerful research tool without being led astray.
Your two biggest enemies:
- Your own confirmation bias.Confirmation bias is your own natural tendency to find, believe, and source information that agrees with (or confirms) your already-held opinions about a topic. It’s a problem even for highly educated scientists and experts in their field, and it’s something you’ll need to be ready to battle when you’re looking into a topic that’s new to you. You may be presented with information that’ll challenge your preconceived notions and beliefs. Keep an open mind and seek to understand and find evidence to all sides of an argument (especially the ones you disagree with.) For more on confirmation bias, read this excellent article on the topic.
- Questionable sources of information. The only thing worse than confirmation bias are trapped in unsourced, poorly-cited articles that draw conclusions without backing them up. Even the best do this sometimes, like citing a study that doesn’t support their conclusions or reporting a study’s conclusions blindly. Keep an eye out though, even poorly-cited work can lead you to valuable reading, but unsourced conjecture should be treated as opinion.
Read the rest of the tips at LifeHacker.
It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation! For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit