Contributors

Sunday, August 23, 2020

How to Make Sense of Information That You Are Not an Expert In

 Evaluation of Information

One of the first things to consider when it comes to evaluating information is the source, as I've outlined before. However, if you're not an expert in the information that you're looking at, one of the things you must consider is the author. In particular the author that is writing the piece or presenting the information to you. One of the biggest aspects of this consideration is, is the presenter or the author an expert in the field? For example, if you're taking information about nuclear physics from an English Literature author, claiming that nuclear physics will solve the world's energy problems without harmful effects, would you consider this statement from this person credible? A statement is more credible coming from a person with a background in nuclear physics. They could potentially provide you with detailed arguments about their position. This is one of the major problems in my view when it comes to dealing with information that is being presented to the average citizen or person. There is no clear way for an individual to determine the person's credibility on the topic. If we were going to further discuss this topic, evaluation of information from the author, I would consider also your ability to contact the person and their ability to respond to challenging questions. Also, research the topic from other perspectives that question their work. Questioning is not an issue for a person that is well-versed in the topic, they should be comfortable with presenting their topics and arguments.

Another aspect to consider of the information being presented is of the quality of the underlying information. How was the information taken, how has it been presented, and what type of framework is used. This can lead to skewed results of impressions. For example, you can say, "please get out of the car," which sounds more like a request, but is still something you must do. Or somebody can say it this way "I order you to get out of the car or you will be arrested." Again, same action will occur, you getting out of the car. However, one is much pleasant and may get you to be more cooperative later on. Then there are statements that can be factually wrong and misleading, just by using the same technique as I demonstrated above. Furthermore, if you're going to continue to evaluate a piece of information to see if it is determinative as good, how would you critique your own position if it agrees with the sources that you're reading?

Critiques of Information

The critique of information being presented is very important. One's ability to self assess and critique their own arguments provides insight into how other information they may be consuming could be evaluated. Critiques are very important to determining the credibility of the source. If the author or presenter acknowledges the flaws of their argument and provides information against those generic type arguments on their positions, that would be providing some more credibility to their arguments. However, I would caution that sometimes a falsity may be setup on purpose to make their arguments appear more effective. I would also go on to say, this is a classic literary technique that is used by other authors even in nonfiction and fiction settings. 

This post would be an example of this. An argument could be had, evaluating information in this way is inherently flawed because it distracts the reader from the absolute truth that the author is trying to present. The argument against us is that it does not provide a stimulation to challenge your own belief system. If you do not challenge your own belief systems, then you are inherently flawed. A flawed approach to a view is actually worse, because you're blinded from the truth or the position that you're supporting. Therefore, I always recommend constructing an argument against your position in order to be able to verbally and radiantly defend your position.



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