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Evaluating What You Find

Google's web-page-ranking system, PageRank, tends to give priority to better respected and trusted information. Well-respected sites link to other well-respected sites. This linking boosts the PageRank of high-quality sites. Consequently, more accurate pages are typically listed before sites that include unreliable and erroneous material. (The various browser toolbars can show you the PageRank of the page you're currently browsing.) Nevertheless, evaluate carefully whatever you find on the web since anyone can

Many people publish pages to get you to buy something or accept a point of view. Google makes no effort to discover or eliminate unreliable and erroneous material. It's up to you to cultivate the habit of healthy skepticism. When evaluating the credibility of a page, consider the following AAOCC (Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency, Coverage) criteria and questions, which are adapted from www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENGI/eval_criteria.html.

Authority

Accuracy

Objectivity

Currency

Coverage

Search for [ evaluate web pages ] or [ hints evaluate credibility web pages ] to find resources on how to evaluate the veracity of pages you view.

For a printable form with most of the questions that you will probably want to ask, visit www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/EvalForm.pdf. If you're unable to view PDF files, you can get a free PDF viewer from Adobe by visiting www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.
For more information on evaluating what you find, visit www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html.

Exercises

Find documents on the web that provide the answers to the following questions. What's your level of comfort with the referring site(s) and why? For hints and answers to selected problems, see the Solutions page in the Appendix.

  1. Is it true that if you touch a cold halogen light bulb with clean fingers, you will shorten its lifespan?

  2. Are 75% of Americans chronically dehydrated? Find opposing points of view.

  3. Are you less likely to get dental cavities if you drink fluoridated water?

  4. Is clumping kitty litter a major health hazard to cats?

  5. What are the benefits and drawbacks of a flu (influenza) shot?

  6. Does microwaving food in plastic containers or plastic cling wrap release harmful chemicals into the food? Check whether this is an urban legend.

Want more experience assessing the authenticity and integrity of some websites? Try the exercises listed on www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/EvaluateWhy.html.

This page was last modified on Monday January 02, 2006.


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