Check your sources.


I do a lot of reading. (Two words, you notice, not one.) Histories, satires, fanfiction, the news; if it piques (not peaks, not peeks) my interest, I'm likely to read it.

Every once in a while, I'll come across an article that's pretty much a rehash of somebody else's work, like a top ten list of antioxidant foods or best places to take a vacation. Mildly entertaining, relatively innocuous, even potentially useful. I'll come across those that are a copy of stuff from another site, typos and all. Slightly distasteful, but nothing to get my hackles up over. (Like reality TV celebrities before I learned about Typhoon Haiyan handbags. Dark hair. Long legs. Hollow souls.) Then there are those articles on some new discovery in the sciences, written in the prose equivalent of a retail smile.

Hey, guess what, you just might have X! Okay, what kind of studies back up that claim? Is the writer an expert in the related field, or is the article written by someone with a doctorate from a diploma mill? Does the writing reflect a concern for accuracy in its spelling, grammar, and source citations? Or is the author trying so hard to be inoffensive that the language becomes loosely structured and poorly defined? Is the article trying to be so inclusive that it ends up lumping the people who don't have X in with those who have a genuine concern, diminishing the struggles of those who do while stigmatizing those who don't deserve it? And what kind of organization allowed this stuff on its page? Does it offer commentary-free coverage of both sides of any issue, or does it bump aside a legislator for the arrest of some famous drunk driver? The effect of the popular saying 'don't judge' becomes dangerous once you're so used to not judging that you stop looking for the truth behind anything, so used to looking only at the shiny pretty things that you don't see past them to the rubbish, filth, slime, muck, boo.

Reader beware the new incarnation of the supermarket tabloid, with 'articles' that are little more than page-length paid advertisements alongside 'articles' that are no better than OMG alien probe.

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