/ online

Online Crap Detection

Yep, there's a lot of crap online. Yep, many people have listed stuff to look out for. Doesn't hurt to put some stuff together and underline them. How to tell stuff you read/watch online is crap?

  1. All caps titles that don't say anything.
    good: "Cricket Australia admit players cheated", clearly describes the main point of the article as a matter of fact. You're going in to get the details on an admission of guilt, but you already have the topic.
    bad: "CRICKET SCANDAL: Cricked Australia in shame", passes a judgment on the situation, on one party and labels everything without any meaningful insight into what the article is about. Clearly setup to draw attention as well as send the reader in with a predetermined mindset.
    undetermined: question mark titles. A significant majority come from tabloids which try to pass as quality press. Under the umbrella of asking a question rests an opinion piece predetermined on arguing the "YES" answer. On the other hand sometimes titles like these are genuinely about getting an aswer. You can tell them apart by the fact that genuine articles usually feature other people giving their answer and the author stops short of a conclusion while simply underlining possibilities.

  2. Quoting "studies"
    good: "A study from 1983 by a team at Cambridge Labs supports the idea that the human ear is limited in picking up frequencies. The study performed on two groups compose of XY people has seen one group being exposed to sounds created by ... etc" - quoting a study should be accompanied by a minimum of information regarding when the study was conducted, where (which team, university, company). In addition, award points are granted if the article also provides links to the published results and reviews as well as the methodology used (chosen groups, diversity, control, etc)
    bad: "A study (or studies, scientists) have demonstrated that the human ear is basically pointless" - there's nothing meaningful here to allow the reader to judge the information. A conclusion is presented as absolute truth without any background information. Premise, methodology, review and so on are left out and the argument only rests on the author's desire to further a point at any cost.

  3. Preseting a single party involved in the story
    good: "The White House has gathered UN support by asserting that Iran's nuclear enrichment operations are aimed at building a nuclear warhead. On the other hand Tehran maintains that its enrichment facilities are calibrated for producing fuel for civil nuclear power plants" - the main argument and news are presented through a conclusion that's not necessarily supported by detailed evidence (which may or may not be available to the public), but also the opposing view is mentioned.
    bad: "As Iran is getting closer to building a nuclear warhead, the White House is making a last ditch attempt at solving the situation via economic sanctions" - there's one point of view and a single possible conclusion that's underlined here. Lack of evidence is covered up by presenting assumptions as statements of fact.