Free photograph courtesty of Pixabay. http://www.pixabay.com
The internet is an information jungle. It has no rules and no referees (except the Google Search Engine). Information on the internet could come from anywhere and for any purpose. The internet doesn’t recognize full disclosure. You have no obligation to tell the internet user why you’ve started the website or what your purpose might be.
“There are lies, damned lies, and the internet (statistics).” B. Disraeli
Disraeli used the word “statistics”. I added the word, “internet”. He warned about the misleading information which could be pulled out of statistics. Were he alive today, I’m sure that he would agree about the dangers of the internet.
Bad Apples Spoil the Barrel
Have you heard about the plight of the endangered tree octopus in the Pacific Northwest? Its tiny habitat is threatened by logging. Soon there’ll be no more tree octopi.
Did you bite on this bit of disinformation? Did you take even a tiny bite? If you did, you’re not alone. Kevin McCluney, a contributor to Scientific American, described the fake message which fooled many. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/finding-good-information-on-the-internet/
McCluney’s article starts this way. “Have you heard about the highly endangered tree octopus of the forests of the Pacific Northwest?” “Ridiculous,” you say?”
McCluney goes on to describe a webpage devoted to saving the mythical endangered tree octopus. What fooled readers? Nothing to it. All the authors had to do was set up a fund to save the tree octopus. When we, the reader, learn someone is devoted to saving the octopus tree, we start to believe the tree octopus must be real. The tree octopus must exist. Our logic tells us that no one would try to save a creature which does not exist.
Following this line of reasoning, we trot right down what my mother used to call the “garden path.” The website had been used to mislead students as an object lesson. McCluney concludes, “… anyone can put anything on the internet.”
The best hopes for transparency and accuracy of information are realized in scientific publications. If you read a scientific article in a peer-reviewed journal, the authors must disclose their conflicts of interests and who is paying for the research. Think of peer-reviewers as referees in an NBA game. What would the NBA look like if we didn’t have referees to call the game? What would the NBA look like if the rules for the game changed based on the floor upon which the game was played?
Refereeing has a similar purpose in science and all forms of knowledge. If, for example, an author publishes a study on the benefits of a Tutti Fruitti cereal on children’s dental health and that author’s work was funded by a large food processing company, the reader can balance the information within the article with who paid for the research. Did the corporate sponsorship change the value of the science? Should we believe the study’s results?
Battle to Achieve Full Disclosure Was Hard Fought
It’s important to know that the battle to get self-disclosure and referees in science was hard fought. It took generations of scandals for scholarly journals to come to grips with the need for self -disclosure and transparency. That battle to get information referees is still being fought on the internet and in our social media.
No Information Referees in the Internet Information Jungle
When we go in search of information on the internet, we go into something akin to an information jungle. Some of the what we see is misinformation. In the internet information jungle, we might find helpful natives who will guide us to King Solomon’s mine. We might also find cannibals who will cheerfully cook us up for dinner. We’ll discover medicinal plants in this jungle which will cure our ills. There are plants in this jungle which will poison us and our families.
Which plant should be add to our jungle salad? The rules for making a choice are simple.
Authority of the Authors
Check the authority of the person telling you to eat the plant. Is the person a botanist with a deep understanding of plants or is he or she a witch doctor who doesn’t want you to find King Solomon’s mine? Is the website author someone you’d pay for advice because of their training and credentials?
Support and Relationships
Can the information provider support his or her claims about the safety of the plant you’re about to toss into your salad? Can the information’s author point you toward other resources or does the author want to get your personal information and keep you tuned into their information channel. Does the provider describe supporting science? Does the provider tell you about other places you might go to find related information?
What Does the Website Owner Get Out of the Website?
Websites don’t just happen. There’s time and money involved. What does the website owner want? Why does the website exist? Does the website developer let you, the consumer of information, in on their secrets? Is the provider’s objective to gain an advantage, sell something, get advertising revenue, or gather support for an opinion or something else?
Bless Those Who Believe In the Rights of the Information Consumer
Unfortunately for the us as information consumers, there are no referees in the internet information game. Those behind the face of the website don’t have to tell us what the goal of the website is. A few websites will tell you what the purpose of the website is and what the developers hope to get out of the website, and we should bless these developers. Most internet providers, however, remain cloaked. Sometimes, you’ll find caveats to the information and support for the information provided at the end of the post in teeny weeny type.
Don’t get me wrong! I love the internet. I love being able to Google something and get a quick answer to a specific question. “Why isn’t the Magic’s power forward playing in the next game?”
Trying to find information on the internet about something complex or controversial is far more difficult. In my case, I wanted to learn about carbohydrate addiction, ketogenic diets, longevity, and health. Often what I find on the web suffers both in terms of quality and/or authority.
Our Goals and Objectives
Given our frustration with the quality of information to be found on websites providing information on ketogenic diets and diet, in general, we must make my own goals and objectives clear and transparent.
I, L. J. Gummow, entered the internet information jungle as a retired doctoral level clinical neuropsychologist with more than thirty years of experience. R. E. Conger is also a doctoral level clinical psychologist with a lifetime of experience. We both have extensive backgrounds in research as well.
The goal of my life has been helping people find their own formula for health and happiness. We can think of no better way to help than sharing our experiences with carbohydrate addiction. This website’s goal is to help make a dent in the obesity epidemic by providing the best of the best information we (L. J. and R. E.) can find on diet and health. For everything we write, we promise to provide links to other information and peer-reviewed supporting references. To read more about us, follow the link. https://carbohydrateconfessions.com/about/
We did write a book on L. J.’s experience with carbohydrate addiction, and you can buy the book through Amazon. If you buy our book and it helps you, pass it on. L. J. is responsible for the content on the website pages.
You may write to L. J. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Universities know that students rely on the internet as a source of information. Due to the hazards of internet research, universities are working to educate students on the use and misuse of information on the internet. Check out these suggestions.