Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 15, 2010

What a Field Day for the Heat

Every once in a while somebody dusts me down either because I'm not perceived to be an 'authority' about something or other or because I suggest accessing a source that is not perceived to be 'authoritative'—such as Wikipedia. I think that people who make these criticisms want to find that their questions have been answered by someone in a tenured faculty position. In spite of these (continual) criticisms I'm more or less aligned with the two guys you see on this chunk of video, which is from the first episode of Dr Aleks Krotoski's television series "Virtual Revolution".

The excerpt ends by blending into the signature notes from the slightly anti-authoritarian little Buffalo Springfield number from forty years ago, "For What It's Worth." That's me, I'm afraid. From where I sit there's no such thing as authorised truth. Even when you read research papers written by university researchers that have studied something up and down the proverbial Wazoo you still have to make sense of what is being offered for yourself—if indeed you can. And beyond that you need to consider applicability to your own situation and various other factors. The principle holds for everything you hear or read: in my opinion, you will need to develop your own truth-testing skills and make up your own mind.

Yet, it is worth looking for guidelines about how assessing the trustworthiness of web sources. I finally happened upon some today as part of a tutorial for mathematics students, on one of those sites that provide "deep" searches of the web: intute. If you know of better or more thorough ways guides for assessing quality please let us all know in the comments.

Incidentally, Krotoski's television series is in three parts. I enjoy listening to podcasts in which she participates too.


Job Descriptions said...

I'd like to start listening to podcast because of this post. Keep it up and thanks!