HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 5, 2007, Herald Journal

Determining fact from fiction

By JENNIFER GALLUS

This may date me, but when I was in college, the Internet didn’t have all that large of a presence when it came to researching papers.

Scientific research required a trip to the good, old library and walking up and down floors of books after books to find just the right index number.

All papers had to have at least five sources in which to base any conclusions and an Internet web site was not widely accepted.

I would assume that today’s college students are less likely to be combing the halls of libraries and more likely to base their research on Internet data.

I’m not so sure that this practice is more beneficial than looking up hard data that has been published.

Internet data may be more timely and easier to access, but it can also be more confusing because it’s harder to distinguish solid research from some yahoo who created his or her own web site as a forum for a belief that may or may not have solid footing.

Bound materials always list its references of where it got its information and by looking at those sources, a person can make a reasonable assumption as to whether the conclusions are just.

I have run across some web sites that list sources as well, but it seems like too many web sites do not back up their claims with this courtesy.

For example, I like to buy organic foods, especially dairy. I’ve been thinking of taking the organic milk a step further and have considered buying raw organic milk.

People seem to have a strong opinion of raw milk, either for or against, and I wanted to investigate the real dangers, if any, in raw milk.

Some people I know drink raw, unpasteurized milk without ill effects. In fact, some say that pasteurized milk is stripped of many beneficial nutrients, organic or not.

So, I tried researching the subject online. Well, I found about the same percentage of web sites that warned against drinking the product as those sites that promoted it.

After a considerable amount of time invested in the topic, I really felt uninformed. Weird, huh?

I wasn’t a nerd in college, but I must admit I kind of miss those long days spent roaming those huge libraries and I always felt that the topics I researched and wrote about had solid facts behind them.

I also felt a bit smarter each time I left the library. I can’t say the same after roaming the Internet.

Kid-isms

Our boys have a strange habit of sleeping on the floor. They have really cool bunk beds with even a rock wall type ladder to get up and down from. It doesn’t matter, they prefer the floor.

Last weekend, after snowmobiling my 7-year-old said his back hurt. I suggested that he should consider sleeping in his bed for once and he replied, “Hey, I make a living sleeping on that floor.”