Philosophy, Religion, Catholic Studies, and Peace & Conflict Studies Librarian at the University of Manitoba
Religion and Social Work Librarian
November 28, 2017
Student Nights Against Procrastination series
Social media as evidence
Overview of our own biases
3 ways to filter out disinformation and bias
false information deliberately presented as true or real
false information unintentionally presented as true or real
Here is the link to a digitized version of the original transcripts from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
Even established newspapers now publish "advertorials"/sponsored content. It can sometimes be hard to spot. Look for clues in the header or the footer of the article. Find out who the author is.
The Syrian Archive preserves social media evidence of human rights violations for war crimes tribunals.
Humans have a tendency to believe or look for information that:
(1) confirms the beliefs they already believe
(2) makes them feel good about themselves
(3) makes people they care about look good
Humans have a tendency to discount information that:
(1) questions things they already believe
(2) makes them feel bad about themselves
(3) makes people they care about look or feel bad
Photo credit: FOTO:FORTEPAN / MHSZ (2016, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Source: Lenker, M. (2016). Motivated Reasoning, Political Information, and Information Literacy Education. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 16(3), 511-528. https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2016.0030
Takeaway: we sometimes believe things without good evidence and we sometimes believe things in spite of evidence.
Get some context: Look at the bigger picture
- How does the article/book/website relate to other information? How does it fit into the larger world?
- Rather than only analyzing an information source on its own merits (close reading), take a look at similar or related sources (e.g., this is a good time to use GoogleScholar or even just Google [especially if it's a website]).
- If you are reading a book, look at book reviews; these are available through our catalogue. If you are looking at an article look at who cited it and see if there are some differing views.
- Talk to your librarian. They can point you to other sources and/or help flesh out the context of a source.
Distinguish between POV and evidence
- Assuming that all research is trying to show and/or make a case something, it is important to see if the information an author uses:
- Counts as appropriate evidence (e.g.,is it anecdotal, is it based on a study? Is there a review of alternative and similar theories? Is there argumentation for the POV)
- Supports the author's POV (e.g., is the argumentation linked to the POV? Is the author provided related, but not supportive, information?)
- Having a POV is not problematic in and of itself, but it needs to be supported by appropriate evidence to be credible.
- Avoid cherry picking: Don't just look for information that supports your hypothesis/argument. Go broader and look at the context surrounding your POV.
- Strength in multiple perspectives: Even if you are sure your POV is right, think of plausible and credible counter-arguments or alternative perspectives. See if these alternative views have been written about. Addressing them usually makes the evidence supporting your POV stronger.
- Remember that we all have biases and that we tend to gravitate toward information that reflects those biases (this goes for accomplished scholars too).
Religion and Social Work Librarian
Elizabeth Dafoe Library
Monday: Search like a pro
Tuesday: Evaluating sources
Wednesday: When to cite
Thursday: How to cite
SNAP: Information Evaluation
By Dom Taylor