Internet Sources

James McGrath mentions students who use unreliable sources on the internet. Tom Verenna complains about students who copy straight from wikipedia, links and all.

Sounds like some of the commentors we’ve seen here.

The problem is, as the web expands and fragments into scenes and factions, it gets harder to tell who is reliable and who isn’t. If you’re new to a debate, which side do you trust? If you even know there are sides?

There’s a case now in Virgina where a textbook about the American Civil War claimed that thousands of blacks had served as soldiers in the Confederate army. This goes completely against our understanding of the Confederacy; most Confederate leaders were hell-bent on keeping the guns out the the hands of slaves.

When pressed for her sources, the author mentioned primarily internet sites, including research done by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group dedicated to the myth of the lost cause. There is no accusation of bias against the author, it seems that she was merely guilty of trusting a source that shouldn’t have been trusted.

Keith Olbermann has the story (this was before his suspension [edit: and reinstatement. Was that an indefinite suspension or a long weekend?]):

Carol Sheriff wants to use this as an example of what to look out for when you’re doing research. Via blogger Greenflame, I see that the Wabash Center has produced a number of study guides on how to evaluate web content.

The Dome Overhead
Being Agent Scully
Martyrs for Science
The Great Commoner