Volume 92, Issue 66

Tuesday, January 26, 1999


NEWS

Fees may climb even higher

Women hold USC election minority

Moran to face review

Millenial term start bugs Senate

Donations create two new heads

The search has begun

Botting sporting some reforms

Finding the truth on the net

Caught on campus

USC elections '99

Questions and answers

AGENT John Botting

AGENT Emily Chung

AGENT Joey Hammill

AGENT Perry Monaco

AGENT Nurup Naimji

AGENT Kalev Suurkask

AGENT SzeJack Tan

AGENT Stephen Zolis

Finding the truth on the net

This column could have been written by a monkey, perhaps one of those in the beer commercials.

Now, I know there are those out there who were absolutely convinced one of our simian cousins was behind this column, but I will address those who are capable of "absolute" conviction later and I'll thank you to stop snickering.

Now, as to why this column's authorship is in question. I typically submit the piece through email to The Gazette. In the world of the internet, authorship and anonymity go hand in hand. Thus, a monkey with a reliable email connection could be the mastermind behind Area 404. It's unlikely, but possible.

My point is that you can never trust what you read on the web or through email. Web pages are as uncontrolled as the libido of a 14-year-old male and often as uncensored. They contain reams of information, but most of it is unresearched, unverifiable and even unrealistic.

Take, for example, www.weberman.com. This site details A.J. Weberman's crusade against the United States Central Intelligence Agency and his extremely in-depth study of the Kennedy assassination. The site contains a lot of information which is hard to verify, but it is one of the better-researched sites available on the fringe of academia.

In sharp contrast we have www.subgenius.com, an openly pseudo-religion which claims we were lucky surviving the destruction of X Day, but won't get off so lightly come XX Day in July.

Further still, sites such as www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/spaithjc/topbooks.html can be problematic for novice researchers. The above site is entitled "Top 5 American Novels of the 20th Century" which implies some credibility and authority. Yet students of English will moan to discover T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," quite distinctly a poem and not a novel, in fifth place. You might suppose a student's page would be hard to find, but it was the number 2 result when I performed a Lycos search for "Eliot The Wasteland."

The problem faced by internet researchers lies in the accessibility of web space. There are people who can, eloquently and through rational argumentation in scholarly style, convince their readers the earth is, in fact, hollow and populated by aliens, survivors of Atlantis or both (www.onelight.com/thei/thei.html).

This situation presents something of a dilemma for the researcher, as one must not only find information, but filter it through the sieve of credibility. It may be best, unless some academically validated system is created, to restrict research to published works or at least university web sites (.edu instead of .com).

Speaking of which, I have to go pick up some more bananas for my research team.




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Copyright The Gazette 1999