Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is this true?

At the conference in Seattle, Carl Hasler suggested reading the book The Dumbest Generation, which I recently obtained through inter-library loan and skimmed.

One thing that caught my eye, though, was a comment on student use of the internet as a research tool. The researches conducting the test provided students with web sites, and apparently the students were supposed to identify which of the endings of web sites would provide you with better or more accurate resources. The correct answer was supposed to be .edus or .govs.

My "skept-o-meter" rang and I scoffed to myself. "Says who?" was my reaction.

But then I got to thinking. Should I really trust .edus and .govs more than .coms? Maybe at some level, I do give them higher credibility. I would still verify the information, however, and not trust them utterly, or completely. And I can't say that I personally would rate them higher than a .com address, because I would check and need to verify those, too.

What do you think? Are .edus and .gov web sites more trustworthy than .coms?


  1. Like you, I wouldn't place my trust in any dot-something. My method for research is to do a lot of looking around for opposing views and then sift through the "info" to get to the "truth". This, of course, is more time-consuming than the "cut-and-paste" tactics of students in a rush.

  2. that should read "COPY-and-paste"

  3. Heck, no!

    Always, always, ALWAYS-- "trust, but verify."

  4. Maolsheachlann, Ireland9/13/2009 11:37 AM

    I think maybe your skept-o-meter is overenthusiastic! I would say that I would trust a .gov or .edu site as far as INFORMATION is concerned, but once it passes over to the realm of ideology, I would cease to pay any attention. I've never come across a case of egregious government or educational propaganda on websites (maybe others have). I work in a university environment, and I'm well aware how the academy has become a propanda mill for the secularist, modernist worldview, but its ideology is rarely presented as concrete fact, either online or elsewhere.

    I don't think the internet generation is the "dumbest generation". I think the internet is really teaching people to follow up the sources of claims in a way that was really impossible with print culture. Not that I'm saying the internet is "better" than print. We all love a musty, well-thumbed book, the tactile and visual and even olfactory experience. But I think GK Chesterton was prescient in seeing that print and even writing was merely a phase; there's nothing sacred about them. Chesterton was always slaying idolatries, whether bardolatry or art-for-art's sake or racialism!

    Which strays considerably from your point...sorry!

  5. It's not so much that it's a deliberate attempt to be wrong, it's that the "better or more accurate" information is usually found on .com resources that have first-hand knowledge of the topic-- the information from those is then used to make .edu and .gov sites, which by necessity are not going to be as high of quality of information as the folks who make their livings by it.

    Some .edu and .gov will have trusted the wrong information sources, as well-- and not having fist-hand knowledge, won't be able to tell they've goofed. (For example, a family friend found a source that claimed cows have one stomach, and made a nice .edu web page with information from that site; he simply didn't know enough to know he was wrong.)

    All that said, while SOME .coms will be the utter best source for information, there's also some that are of far lower quality than the .edu and .gov; so, trust but verify. ^.^

  6. I think the statement really does hold if one considers all of the real resources the internet has to offer, and not just casual research. I mean, the majority of legitimate resource libraries are going to be listed under .gov domains associated with a particular city, or they will be listed under the university or college to which they are attached, .edu. But in this case, the information isn't really coming FROM that domain, just being hosted on it (such as peer-reviewed journals that have online records or full text articles). As far as the "facts" contained on the different types of websites, I think it would be hard to say what's more reliable. We would hope the .govs have useful and trustworthy information. Outside of secondary hosted knowledge, I haven't come across many .edus offering information of their own really, apart from advertisement for their institution. The useful info they do have is, once again, hosted material from other sources, and these are good.

    I think .com is too broad and general to critique as such, but I would be able to say in general that the "Wiki" knowledge-base is generally less trustworthy and I would certainly take other resources over this.


Join our FaceBook fan page today!