Many people quote a lot of research to back up their arguments (for which I’m not dissing you for).
Which is, actually, a good thing.
It’s what you should be doing – having an uninformed opinion is beyond ignorant.
However, the problem is that many people don’t research their argument properly (or, like Fox News, only select research and information that fits their point of view and refuse to listen to any other facts).
However, the problem is that many people don’t research their argument properly (or worse, only select research that fits their point of view).
As a teacher, I recommended that you should use the CARS system. I find it’s most effective in deciding whether or not what you’re reading is, actually, factual.
So what does CARS stand for? How does it help you decide whether or not what you’re reading is factual.
CARS stands for credibility, accuracy, reliability/reasonableness and sources.
Credibility: Firstly, is what you’re reading credible? Could it actually be true? Is it likely to have happened, or be currently happening? Do the statistics seem widely inflated to you? Does the information you’re reading seem like it is actually credible? Is it an accurate portrayal of what you’ve heard from different (and reliable) sites or texts?
Accuracy: Secondly, is the information accurate? Did you look at other sources that also support this article? If there is contradicting evidence to what you’re reading, what seems most reliable? For example, if you’re reading about how the Holocaust didn’t happen, how much evidence contradicts this asinine theory?
Reliability: Thirdly, where is your information coming from? Just because it’s on the internet (or even printed in a book – here’s looking at you Scientology), doesn’t mean it’s accurate. If you’re searching for reliable information on the internet, it’s best if your source comes from a .org, .edu, or .gov website. If it doesn’t, check the reference list at the end of the article (this includes books, too. Any factual text should provide sources).
Sources: Lastly, if your internet page or book doesn’t have a lot of up-to-date references, it’s quite possible that was has been printed is either a) someone’s opinion, which may be biased and not necessarily supported by facts (or the facts are manipulated in a way to make the person’s opinion look legitimate), or b) may be intentionally providing incorrect information (yes, some people DO do that). (Or, like anti-vaccination and tin-foil hat people, it’s also possible that the people providing said information may actually be crazy.) Regardless, it’s not only important to check the reference list, but to make sure that the references are provided by reputable and reliable sources. (I could shove a bunch of references at the end of the list – if you don’t check them, how do you know anything I’m saying is true? If you make the assumption that just because there’s a reference list, the source is reliable, then you’re assuming the person that created the said text actually provided you with actual real links. As a teacher, I often have kids just shoving references into the end of their assignment, in the hopes it means they pass and I don’t check that it isn’t a link to Taylor Swift’s latest song.)
So there you have it.
When you want to present your opinion, make sure you support it with facts. (I’m not talking in normal, everyday conversation. I’m talking about in an actual debate.)
Facts are actually essential.
What’s the point of having an opinion if it’s based on ignorance, misinformation and stupidity?
Originally published on The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise.
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