Information on the Internet Often Bears a Double Check

July 1997
by Reid Goldsborough

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Did you know that the commercial airliner that tragically crashed last summer off Long Island during TWA Flight 800 was actually accidentally shot down by a US Navy missile?

OK, this was just a rumor that was circulating on the Internet last year, but some people believed it, including such respected authorities as Pierre Salinger, former ABC News correspondent and one-time press secretary to John F. Kennedy. Salinger embarrassed himself by announcing to the world that he had “indisputable” proof, only to have his proof quickly debunked.

The fact is that the Internet is chock-full of rumors, gossip, hoaxes, exaggerations, falsehoods, ruses, and scams. Though the Net can reveal useful, factual information that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, it can also appear to be a gigantic electronic tabloid.

“Information on the Net has an aura of credibility that it may not warrant,” says Joyce Flory, Ph.D., a Chicago-based co-author of five books about the Internet.

Can you ever trust the Internet? Sure you can. You just need to apply critical thinking in evaluating the information and advice you come across.

Here’s a six-step approach to doing this:

Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a Web site by its appearance. Sure, if a Web site looks professional rather than slopped together, chances are greater that the information within it will be accurate and reliable.

But looks can and do deceive, frequently. A flashy site c…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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