Anyone can write a blog these days. Vegans about conspiracy theories and vegan architects about saving the world and doing good deeds. No one is an expert on all topics on this complex planet. And that's why it's so important to never take unchecked information from the Internet for granted.
Start with a proper search word
How does one start to gather information on one's own? Well, the first step is probably the search. If you are approaching a topic for the first time, it helps to start a search engine. There are sites like let-me-google-that-for-you for a reason, many questions can be answered with a short search. Often people use the net to ask a stranger and it is assumed that everyone knows what they are talking about and everyone is telling the truth. It is safer to get the information yourself.
Why is it not allowed to say ... anymore? Are people to blame for climate change? A targeted search for the terms "word origin ..." "insult .." "minority of .." or "current studies on climate change" "causes climate change" " actions against climate change" "man-made climate change" can help. The query should be as precise as possible. And suddenly you will find yourself in the middle of a multitude of further links.
Selection of sources
How do you filter out reputable sources? For example, you can start with the wikipedia article. What used to be known as the encyclopedia in 100 books in the cupboard can now be found digitally. Wikipedia is not completely free of misinformation, like anything written by human authors. But for those unfamiliar with research, it's a very good start. The article on " global warming", for example, contains 341 sources in the German version, numerous further links on the subject, literature references and similar articles, as well as editions in other languages. If you work your way through here, you already have a very good overview of the topic. Of course, there is nothing to be said against the aforementioned transcript in the cupboard, as long as it is available in an up-to-date issue. Digital articles should also have a publication date, which should be quite recent at best.
From these sources, select not just one, but several. Particularly valuable - the more complex the topic - are opposing views that clarify differences and reveal common ground. For many questions there is also a single right answer.
It is important to remember that anyone can spread information on the Internet. Instagram, YouTube, Telegram, and Facebook are full of fake news and hate, and it's becoming increasingly important to actively combat it. Bad news and hyped-up headlines always spread and sell a little better than factual reporting, and that is extremely dangerous.
Once information is posted on the web, it is difficult to delete it. When something spreads via social networks, this can create avalanches that were not necessarily intended by the original author and are difficult to control. So you should always think twice about anything you write and - especially when in doubt - better check twice whether it is true. Shady content can be checked, for example, via portals such as Mimikama (for Germany).
Before you spread insults, hatred and deliberate false reports, it's better to overthink it. The Internet is not a lawless space, and the people behind the profiles are (in the vast majority) real people with feelings and problems. What happens on the net can have horrible consequences in real life. Teenagers are killed because they want to protect siblings from cyberbullying, and doctors receive death threats from anti-vaccination activists. That's why you should always make sure you're sharing accurate information when you redistribute third-party articles. When in doubt, always leave it alone.
Independence and intent
Independent sources are very important for a review. Hundreds of sites write that climate change is man-made and you find the one site that sees it as a big conspiracy against the German car lobby? Then check who has written the article and why. It's not always easy to find out. Is the author paid by a offshore company set up by the stepbrother of a car company executive? That doesn't have to be the case, but it happens all the time. Advertising for cigarettes, sweets and bottled water is backed up by questionable studies. Studies that have been paid for by the manufacturers of these very products. Cigarettes are healthy, sugar doesn't make you fat and drinking water from Moonlight Mountain in Rainbow Land is much better than domestic tap water? Unfortunately, not everything is that obvious to see through and many topics are too complex to understand, requiring hours of research and possibly PhDs in nuclear physics and Danish literature at the same time.
Nor is it always just about the dear money. War reports are written down by the winners, and religious fanatics tend not to call people of other faiths neutral fellow human beings. Therefore the attitude and the intention of the creator is also to be questioned and classified.
By the way, a doctorate does not mean that one can claim to have the wisdom of the world. With a doctorate in urban planning, you know as little or as much about a virus as any other person in the non-virologist environment. And even among virologists there are experts on special topics. No one has exactly the same knowledge as anyone else. That's why the exchange is important.
Appropriate and comprehensible
When my colleagues ask me why I'm sighing instead of reaching for the birthday cake in the tea kitchen, I can send the link to the episode of a famous children science show about celiac disease. Or I can explain the nature of an autoimmune disease and how gluten, a glueing protein, damages the intestines of sufferers with every meal. But the most likely dialogue is this: "What happens when you eat gluten?" "A night in the bathroom." "Okay." Information should be appropriate to the individual and situation, even for adults.
Information offered in "easy language" can also reduce barriers and simplify complex content. It aims to be particularly easy to understand.
Suitable for children
The internet and children - there are probably enough parenting guides on the subject. It is important to tailor the information to the recipient. "Die Sendung mit der Maus" is a great example of child-friendly information transfer, even for scientific topics.
Conclusion for this blog
We have arrived in an era where mankind has access to so much knowledge than ever before in history. So many correlations have been elucidated and so much data has been collected as never before. You only have to get hold of it. You have access to almost infinite information, which you have to examine and understand and, if necessary, also need some background to be able to classify it. The foundation must be clear and those involved must be on a similar level, nothing must be withheld or misunderstood. Then you can work with it.
My claim is that I write about facts and real personal experiences and do not spread untruths. I will seek information from independent sources and consult experts when I write about topics in which I am not or not well enough versed. As far as possible, I provide sources and further links on which my articles are based.
If there is a mistake, I am always open to constructive criticism and open discussion. I am not omniscient and the blog is certainly not all-encompassing. I offer my humble contribution and hope that it inspires and motivates. And that everyone forms his or her own opinion.
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Find the English version at the bottom.