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How to Think Straight, Get Duped Less, and Make Better Decisions about What to Believe Online


How to Think Straight, Get Duped Less, and Make Better Decisions about What to Believe Online

An indispensable guide for telling fact from fiction on the internet—often in less than 30 seconds.

The internet brings information to our fingertips almost instantly. The result is that we often jump to thinking too fast, without taking a few moments to verify the source before engaging with a claim or viral piece of media. Information literacy expert Mike Caulfield and educational researcher Sam Wineburg are here to enable us to take a moment for due diligence with this informative, approachable guide to the internet. With this illustrated tool kit, you will learn to identify red flags, get quick context, and make better use of common websites like Google and Wikipedia that can help and hinder in equal measure.
This how-to guide will teach you how to use the web to verify the web, quickly and efficiently, including how to
•     Verify news stories and other events in as little as thirty seconds (seriously)
•     Determine if the article you’re citing is by a reputable scholar or a quack
•     Detect the slippery tactics scammers use to make their sites look credible
•     Decide in a minute if that shocking video is truly shocking
•     Deduce who’s behind a site—even when its ownership is cleverly disguised
•     Uncover if that feature story is actually a piece planted by a foreign government
•     Use Wikipedia wisely to gain a foothold on new topics and leads for digging deeper

And so much more. Building on techniques like SIFT and lateral reading, Verified will help students and anyone else looking to get a handle on the internet’s endless flood of information through quick, practical, and accessible steps. 

240 pages | 100 color plates | 6 x 8

Education: Education--General Studies, Psychology and Learning

Library Science and Publishing: Library Science

Reference and Bibliography


"Countless books explain how the digital age warps our ability to know which claims are true--only Verified solves the problem. This book offers the sharpest, most practical advice I have seen on reclaiming your ability to read Internet content with confidence."

Dan Willingham, University of Virginia

Table of Contents

1 Get Quick Context: It Can Take as Little as Thirty Seconds—Seriously!
   The Three Contexts
   “Do I Know What I’m Looking At?”
   Introducing SIFT
   Stop! (Or, How to Fail at Source-Checking Even If You’re the New York Times)
   Investigate the Source
   Find Better Coverage
   Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to Their Original Context
2 Cheap Signals: Or, How Not to Get Duped
   Easily Fakeable Questions
   Gameable Signals of Credibility
   First Impressions Matter . . . Except When They Don’t
   URLs Matter . . . Except When They Don’t
   What about Dot-Coms?
      Going Deeper: The “Org” of Dot-Org Is Big Business
   Nonprofit Status: “Nearly Anything Goes”
   Numbers That Bamboozle
   Links That Lead Astray
3 Google: The Bestie You Thought You Knew
   Interpreting and Mining Search Results
   Why Seeing on the Internet Isn’t Believing
   Decoding Google’s Knowledge Panel
   Different Sources, Different Purposes
      Going Deeper: What Arsonist Birds Teach Us about Different Sources
   When Featured Snippets Get It Wrong
      Going Deeper: Google’s Three Vertical Dots Are a Great Hack for Lateral Reading
   Keywords and Inferred Intent: How to Think like Your Search Engine
   Keywords: The Underlying Architecture of Search
   Inferred Intent: Providing Google with a “Tell”
   Google Is a Mirror Reflecting Back What You Give It
   A Search Engine, Not a “Truth Engine”
4 Lateral Reading: Using the Web to Read the Web
   Get off the Page!
   Lateral Reading: Checking Information like a Fact-Checker
   Why Lateral Reading Works
   Little Shift, Big Payoff
   Lateral Reading Puts You in Control
   Avoid Promiscuous Clicking: Practice Click Restraint
   The “Vibe” of the Search Engine Results Page
5 Reading the Room: Benefiting from Expertise When You Have Only a Bit Yourself
   Why You Can’t “Just Do the Math”
   Reading the Room: Quick Assessment of a Range of Expert Views
      Going Deeper: Why We Call This “Reading the Room”
   Trust Compression, or How to Avoid Info-Cynicism
   Reading the Room on the Mask Issue
   The Perils of the Single Academic Contrarian
      Going Deeper: What Makes a Good Summary Source?
6 Show Me the Evidence: Why Scholarly Sources Are Better than Promotional Materials, Newsletters, and Random Tweets
   What’s Peer Review?
   Peer Review: “The Worst Way to Judge Research, Except for All the Others”
   The Problem of the Single Study
   Literature Reviews: A Bird’s-Eye View of Multiple Studies
      Going Deeper: Journals That Prey on Unsuspecting Victims
   Real History, Fake History: How to Tell the Difference
   Using Google Scholar to Find Scholarly Sources
   The Vibe of Google Scholar’s Results Page
   Using Google Scholar as a Quick Reputation Check
7 Wikipedia: Not What Your Middle School Teacher Told You
   What about the Mistakes?
      Going Deeper: Wikipedia to Britannica: “He That Is without Sin . . .”
   Anyone Can Change Wikipedia, Can’t They?
   Isn’t Wikipedia Biased?
   Wikipedia as a Tool for Research
   Using Wikipedia to Validate Sources
      Going Deeper: Quickly Validating a Reference from a Book
   Using Wikipedia for Quick Checks of Unfamiliar Websites
   Quick Investigation of a Claim
   Quick Checks of an Unfamiliar Academic Source
   Using Wikipedia to “Read the Scholarly Room”
   Using Wikipedia to Jump-Start Your Research
      Going Deeper: Deciphering the Hieroglyphics of a Bibliographical Reference
   The Messiness of Making Knowledge
8 Video Games: The Dirty Tricks of Deceptive Video
   False Context
   Exploiting “Seeing Is Believing”
      Going Deeper: Online News Is Often More Credible Than You Think
   Falsely Implied Date
   Connect My Dots, or Creating a False Sense of “Research”
   Deceptively Cropped Video
9 Stealth Advertising: When Ads Masquerade as News
   The Problem: Stealth Advertising Works
   A Con Is Born
   Newspapers Become Ad Agencies
   The Problem in Three Words: Conflict of Interest
   Disappearing Warning Labels
   Sponsored Propaganda
   Half Truths Are Not Whole Truths
   When Stealth Ads Move to Social Media
      Going Deeper: How Stealth Ads Lose Their Warning Labels
   Protecting Yourself in an Age of Slimy Advertising
10 Once More with Feeling: Using Your Emotions to Find the Truth
   Emotion Doesn’t Know the Truth, But It Knows What You Care About
      Going Deeper: Man versus Machine
   “Compellingness” Tells Us What’s Important to Check
   Surprise Is a Sign Our Assumptions Might Be Wrong
   Why Compellingness and Surprise Beat the Checklist
      Going Deeper: Mutant Flowers
   Feeling Overwhelmed? Rethink Your Approach
11 Conclusion: Critical Ignoring
Postscript: Large Language Models, ChatGPT, and the Future of Verification

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