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How to Find Legitimate Sources

January 10, 2018

These days it can be hard to discern whether information online is legitimate, and learning how to find legitimate sources is a tool of ever-growing importance. Being in the online marketing world means that I, too, have to ensure that the information that I am receiving and the information that I am giving is correct and current yet, I know that the line can sometimes be hard to define. In this post I will be giving you some tips on how to discern if the information that you are receiving is legitimate and I will also share some verified sources with you so that you can ensure you are giving factual information in your content.

 

 

I can't tell you how much of a pet peeve it is to see misinformation spread on social media, I sometimes want to pull my hair out (and I wish I could pull theirs too) when I see people in the public arena share things that are so blatantly made up!! 

 

Of course... I then try to remember that when I first started out there were so many things that I didn't know and that I had to look up. Things that I know are wrong today, seemed legit when I first came upon them years ago. Maybe you have gone through this process as well? 

 


I have put a lot of time into learning about nutrition, marketing, and mental health; topics which I talk about often in my posts. These are topics that are also big fountains of ~WHOO~ filled with "gurus" sharing nonsensical information. 

 

While some of the information that is spread is innocent, some of it can actually be physically harmful and in the world of business ->>> career ending. 

 

    When I first started learning about coaching, the first thing I searched was the Ethics involved, I asked myself if this coaching thing itself was legit or if I was being reeled into a scam profession. I was glad to find out that there were real guidelines and processes set in place for this field. While anyone can call themselves a coach, the field of coaching has specific regulations and follows strict ethical rules. Learn what coaching really is here. 

 

So how can YOU, figure out if what you are learning is Whoo or Lies??? Try these techniques:

 

1. Search for Logical Fallacies

2. Search for Marketing Gimmicks

3. Search for the Real Source

4. Search for Intent

 

Logical Fallacies

 

You may or may not have learned these in highschool or in college. The use of them didn't seem as important back then because I was surrounded by pretty legitimate information sources and I gullibly beleived that people didn't intentionally try to misinform people in real life. As we may have learned from last year's "fake news" scandals, there are many people who purposefully distribute misinformation. It is important to learn how to recognize these arguments and to avoid using them in our own content. 

 

According to Purdue Fallacies are "common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim." There are 12 basic fallacies with the following names:

"Slippery Slope:

This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,..., X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z. So, if we don't want Z to occur, A must not be allowed to occur either. Example:

    If we ban Hummers because they are bad for the environment eventually the government will ban all cars, so we should not ban Hummers.

    In this example, the author is equating banning Hummers with banning all cars, which is not the same thing.

 

Hasty Generalization:

This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example:

    Even though it's only the first day, I can tell this is going to be a boring course.

    In this example, the author is basing his evaluation of the entire course on only the first day, which is notoriously boring and full of housekeeping tasks for most courses. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation the author must attend not one but several classes, and possibly even examine the textbook, talk to the professor, or talk to others who have previously finished the course in order to have sufficient evidence to base a conclusion on.

 

Post hoc ergo propter hoc:

This is a conclusion that assumes that if 'A' occurred after 'B' then 'B' must have caused 'A.' Example:

    I drank bottled water and now I am sick, so the water must have made me sick.

    In this example, the author assumes that if one event chronologically follows another the first event must have caused the second. But the illness could have been caused by the burrito the night before, a flu bug that had been working on the body for days, or a chemical spill across campus. There is no reason, without more evidence, to assume the water caused the person to be sick.

 

Genetic Fallacy:

This conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:

    The Volkswagen Beetle is an evil car because it was originally designed by Hitler's army.

    In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car. However, the two are not inherently related.

 

Begging the Claim:

The conclusion that the writer should prove is validated within the claim. Example:

    Filthy and polluting coal should be banned.

    Arguing that coal pollutes the earth and thus should be banned would be logical. But the very conclusion that should be proved, that coal causes enough pollution to warrant banning its use, is already assumed in the claim by referring to it as "filthy and polluting."

 

Circular Argument:

This restates the argument rather than actually proving it. Example:

    George Bush is a good communicator because he speaks effectively.

    In this example, the conclusion that Bush is a "good communicator" and the evidence used to prove it "he speaks effectively" are basically the same idea. Specific evidence such as using everyday language, breaking down complex problems, or illustrating his points with humorous stories would be needed to prove either half of the sentence.

 

Either/or:

This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. Example:

    We can either stop using cars or destroy the earth.

    In this example, the two choices are presented as the only options, yet the author ignores a range of choices in between such as developing cleaner technology, car-sharing systems for necessities and emergencies, or better community planning to discourage daily driving.

 

Ad hominem:

This is an attack on the character of a person rather than his or her opinions or arguments. Example:

    Green Peace's strategies aren't effective because they are all dirty, lazy hippies.

    In this example, the author doesn't even name particular strategies Green Peace has suggested, much less evaluate those strategies on their merits. Instead, the author attacks the characters of the individuals in the group.

 

Ad populum:

This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand. Example:

    If you were a true American you would support the rights of people to choose whatever vehicle they want.

    In this example, the author equates being a "true American," a concept that people want to be associated with, particularly in a time of war, with allowing people to buy any vehicle they want even though there is no inherent connection between the two.

 

Red Herring:

This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example:

    The level of mercury in seafood may be unsafe, but what will fishers do to support their families?

    In this example, the author switches the discussion away from the safety of the food and talks instead about an economic issue, the livelihood of those catching fish. While one issue may affect the other it does not mean we should ignore possible safety issues because of possible economic consequences to a few individuals.

 

Straw Man:

This move oversimplifies an opponent's viewpoint and then attacks that hollow argument.

    People who don't support the proposed state minimum wage increase hate the poor.

    In this example, the author attributes the worst possible motive to an opponent's position. In reality, however, the opposition probably has more complex and sympathetic arguments to support their point. By not addressing those arguments, the author is not treating the opposition with respect or refuting their position.

 

Moral Equivalence:

This fallacy compares minor misdeeds with major atrocities.

    That parking attendant who gave me a ticket is as bad as Hitler.

    In this example, the author is comparing the relatively harmless actions of a person doing their job with the horrific actions of Hitler. This comparison is unfair and inaccurate.

"  I didn't write these, i literally copied these from purdue, they're a good site.

 

 

Marketing Gimmicks

 

The marketing world gets a bad rep. Marketing is just the means of getting your product in front of people's eyes in order to sell it but some marketers have ruined the reputation of this field by intentionally misrepresenting products and making outrageous claims. You really have to ask yourself whether it sounds too good to be true because often it is! 


There are many ways that bad products get sold, one of them is by using Testimonials instead of peer reviewed studies in order to show that a product works. While testimonials offer an insight into what a product has done for a person, it does NOT prove that the product itself can do what it claims and that it will do so for everyone that buys it. One of the reasons testimonials are used is because there is no scientific basis to the claims that are being made. A lot of the time the product had no effect other than a Placebo effect or the person had made other changes while using the product that were the real reason that changed occur. If a study is brought up, make sure that they tell you the name of the study so that you can look it up and check it out. 

 

Another technique that is used it to claim Exclusivity. The person selling the product will claim that they, themselves, with no one's help figured out the cure for a disease or many diseases. They might even say that it is a secret or that it has been suppressed until "NOW and only YOU CAN ACCESS IT for $19.99". These claims prey on us our hopes for a magic cure or a fountain of youth being found and us being the first to find it. Most likely though, the product has no real science behind it.

 

Pseudoscience is used in many marketing claims. SInce pseudoscience terms are usually pretty common, it is easy to use them with the hopes that someone out there has heard the term but doesn't know enough to know it isn't real science. They may also add other science sounding words to try and make it sound reasonable. (No joke, look up Dihydrogen Monoxide) Always ask yourself if you know enough about a topic and be honest, if you don't look it up. Often, we are our own worst enemies and we don't like to admit that we don't know something but we will always end up knowing more if we are open to learning more. 

 

Oversimplification is another way to get people to buy things. The less you say, the less that can be considered a lie, right? 

 

Real Sources

 

Not all sources are equal. Not all sources are fake. 


The best source for what a person said... is the person themselves saying it. Next down the ladder would be a first hand witness to the person who said it. Once you get into "the 3rd cousin of his sister's best friend heard that her niece's boyfriend said ...." you start to question whether the information is true. Not all information surrounding a quote itself if meant to be taken as fact and just because a person is quoted, it does not mean that they themselves are experts. There are two basic types of sources: Primary and Secondary. 

 

Ittaca College Library defines them as:

" Primary Sources
A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups are also primary sources. In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies—research where an experiment was performed or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences.

 

    Secondary Sources
Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research.

" I didn't write this either, i got the definition from the ithaca college library.

 

So when in doubt, look for the primary source first so that you have the first hand information in order to understand why the second hand information is being placed there. Then pay attention to what is being said and how it is being used. 

 

Intent is all that matters!

 

Let's be real, a business wants to make money so you can't be flabbergasted by the idea that the reason they are putting information in front of you is because they want you to buy something. Some companies will do this by giving you factual information and make a great case for their product or service and some companies will lie and make false claims in the hope that you fall for it and buy their product or services. Same goes with news agencies, political campaigns, religious organizations, and even charities! Most people have an agenda and you may very well agree with it or disagree with it but when they are using information to back their claims, it is important that you do your due diligence and find out if it is correct. We need to put aside our own biases and look at just the claims being made. The truth is that not everyone is going to take the ethical approach so being prepared with the tools to decipher the deception will ensure that you make good decisions and that you share good information. 

 

So where can You find good sources?

 

 


Secondary sites I used for reference 
(https://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/false-advertising-online-reviews/
https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/05/503581220/fake-or-real-how-to-self-check-the-news-and-get-the-facts
https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2012/11/08/10-questions-to-distinguish-real-from-fake-science/#5c52b66a146c
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170210-how-to-avoid-falling-for-lies-and-fake-news)

 

 

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Like this article or feel like it can help someone you know? Make sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter :) 

 

 

 

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