Categories
Health Trends

Fake News: How to Navigate Information

There is a lot of trash on the internet. This is some of my advice on finding what is useful to you.

Wow, look at this!  Mr. Blogman is back at it again.  Maybe this term will be kinder to me by actually allowing me to have freetime.

Fake news is one of those terms that people throw around like crazy.  Something for your point is valid, whereas if something goes against it, it becomes the increasingly cliched term “fake news.”  However, within the realm of food and nutrition, there is a lot of fake news.  I jokingly tell many people in my dietetics cohort “anyone online who is writing about nutrition either knows jack-shit, or is a dietitian.”  While this is a hyperbolized statement, it highlights the fact that there are many blogs out there from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  This post (which may or may not be fake news) is going to help you navigate the confusion.

Who wrote the article?:  This can show a lot about how reliable the article is.  Moms are fantastic people.  In fact, one helped to make me the sarcastic asshole  intelligent young man I am today.  However, a good portion of them are not educated in nutrition or medicine.  A mommy blog arguing against vaccines and promoting homeopathy is not reliable, because they are going against the vast amounts of research done showing the contrary.  Same goes for scientists as well.  Science is attacked by everyone, including other scientists.  When I research a topic, I look where there are more voices, rather than the loudest.  If 99 published articles say something (like fruits and vegetables are healthy), and one opposes it (if they say that fruits and vegetables are actually going to give you cancer because of some compound in all plants), then we need to examine the one that’s against.  Sometimes, this is can find something new that we did not know yet, and warrants further education.  Other times, they are full of shit.

What do they have to gain from writing the article?:  Nobody does anything for nothing.  Hell, I write this blog because I want to get my nutritional foot in the door.  Most times, articles are written for money.  Most of the times, money comes from ads, and advertisers want view and engagement.  This means articles get trashy and worthless.  Sometimes these articles will use catchy titles to bait you into clicking on them (for example, THIS one Food in Your Kitchen is DEADLY, and You are EATING It.  The answer is water, because it can be dangerous when super heated, and can cause electrolyte imbalances if too much is drunk).  Emotional trickery, especially anger, can lead you to share the article with people, leading to more views.  Sometimes, health professionals and amateurs can be paid to sponsor a product.  This does not mean it’s a healthy product, but that someone paid someone to say something valuable about it.

How reputable is the source?:  Sometimes the platform can make or break a source.  Several media outlets have shown themselves to not be reputable with their reporting, and this is used against one side or another (be it politics, health, or current events).  I can assure you, whether you are for or against a topic, there are good and bad sources on either side.  On social media, I’ve seen so many image macros (or memes) about bashing one side or the other.  There are valid points to both sides, yet it gets lost with who you are talking to.  I can even praise homeopathy for a component that modern medicine lacks:  empathy.  Some sources have tarnished their credibility to Hell.

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.