Bad information spreads on the internet like a virus. If you get incorrect information, you can easily find another source online that will confirm it. In fact, you can get any kind of information you want on the internet. If you want to say that 1+1 equals 11, there is most certainly a site that you could use as a source.

That’s why books from reputable publishers make the best references. They’ve been edited and fact-checked for accuracy.

When you have to use a website for a resource, it is especially important to verify its credibility. It is best to use academic resources and official agencies for specific information, and to double check them against other credible resources.

Common red flags on many websites include:

• Poor grammar and writing
• An obvious political bent
• Hyperbole (“Obvious or intentional exaggeration.” www.dictionary.com)
• Statements that just seem wrong

This is where your instincts come in. Watch out for confirmation bias. This is when you want to believe something is true, and you look for sources that back up your assumptions, rather than for ones that speak to the accuracy of your assumptions.

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