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5 Tips to Identify False Information and Websites Online

5 Tips to Identify False Information and Websites Online

Are you internet-savvy? The internet is filled with false information, but often students and adults need to find accurate information and data online.

While finding trustworthy information online can sometimes be difficult, these five simple tips can help you verify if you have found trustworthy or false information.

1. Check if the article is biased

With all of the information available online, there can be problems with guaranteeing you have found unbiased content, rather than false information. Normally data is used in selective ways to show information, so it can often be used to showcase one point of view. For instance, a website supporting one political party are likely to only post articles showing them in a positive light, which could mean you have found biased or false information.

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The best way you can work out if the article is biased is to look at the author or company promoting the information; are they linked to the issue? Would it be beneficial for them to post this? Do you trust this person to speak on the area you are researching?

2. Check the author of the page

On any page you use, there should be a link to the author who wrote the piece.  If there isn’t a link, this normally means that the information on the website could be inaccurate. Be wary if there is only one form of identification that you’ve never heard of and no other information. Search the information; does it show up anywhere else online? If it does, see what people are saying.

If there are links, check out the author. Is there information about them and an email address? Are they referenced by others online? Are they mentioned on the web on other sites? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, it is likely you are on a trustworthy website. If it isn’t, you could be looking at false information.

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3. Check the content is verified

Websites can post information online, and often it helps to check and see if the information is correct. If the work is heavily referenced that often means the information is trustworthy, as other people and websites have verified the information.

It is also a good sign if the website shows you the method behind the work; check the site out and see if it mentions how it gathered the data. You can use the web or your local library to double-check whether the information is supported by others in the same field.

4. Check when the website was last updated

Often old articles containing false information will resurface and go viral online – mainly because many people didn’t check the date of the article. See how often the page is updated, or if it is a dead page (a page that is no longer updated or maintained by the author). If it is dead, it could mean the information is out-of-date and inaccurate, as well as hard to verify.

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If the site is easy to navigate and regularly updated, it means the information is more likely to be current and correct. If the site provides dates for the data it includes, as well as publication dates, the information is even more likely to be accurate.

5. Check the company behind the website

Even if the author is reputable, it is worth double checking the team behind the website. If the website is copyrighted, that tends to be a good sign. The site should show the name of the publishers, or a watermark for their company.

If there isn’t a company or publishing body behind the website, it could mean the content is the opinion of the author, rather than fact. Be wary if this is the case – most accurate research and data clearly references the publishing body behind it, so it could be false information.

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Check out these five things to figure out whether the information you’re looking at is valid or not!

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Amy Johnson

Freelance writer, editor and social media manager.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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