We live in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with information. Access to information of all types is more accessible than ever and the amount of data out there is increasing exponentially as we speak. According to the latest estimates, we’ve created more information in the last 10 years than in all of human history before that. Amazing!
This is, of course, due to the omnipresence of the internet, social media, and smartphones. In this cauldron of information, how do we know what is true? When it comes to news and information about our health, how can we know what to believe? How do we separate what is fact from fiction?
Here are 5 things to look for when reading information or news about your health:
- Look at the quotes in a story (or, rather, look for the lack of quotes): Legitimate journalists will use multiple sources from people who are considered experts and professionals in their fields. Most often, the article will include direct quotes from these sources.
- Google it!: Do a little digging online to see if the sources or citations within an article are correct and true. If it is citation, you will most likely find it used in other articles as well. If it’s a source, a professional or expert, then you should be able to access their work or credentials online.
- Pay attention to the domain and URL:For instance, there is a website URL: www.abcnews.com.co that is a fake website that looks very similar to the legitimate website www.abcnews.com.
- Does it contain any citations?:Most health articles have citations, usually to other articles or published research, that support the claims being made in the article. If it doesn’t, that’s a major red flag. Most scientific work will have a lot of references and is published in peer reviewed journals. Also, make sure the work that the article cites supports the original author’s findings. Often, they are hoping you won’t take a closer look for data being used out of context.
- Does the article make outrageous claims?:“The cure for _______” or “ _______ definitively proves X” are major red flags. If it’s too good to be true, most of the time it is. This is a circumstance where Google is your best friend. If a cure or breakthrough is found, EVERYONE will be talking about it. It would be in every major news outlet and publication.
Can there be differing opinions about your health? Of course! Most doctors don’t agree about everything. But, it’s important that when you are reading an article about the latest health news or doing research to help you make a decision about your healthcare that you get the most reliable and truthful information available.