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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

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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