It is critical in today's society to be well informed, to actively participate in the shaping of tomorrow. It is not enough to rely on merely what others tell us. Though we can certainly be positively influenced by others, we ought to act, rather than be acted upon. We have the blessing of modern technology. With increasing accessibility to information, especially by means of the internet, also in our laps lay the escalating weight of responsibility and accountability. To be informed, we must open our eyes and ears to continually fill ourselves with a reservoir of knowledge. To be well informed requires practiced discernment in assertively answering the question: 'What is truth?'
Research is one example of both the need and means to becoming well-informed. Did you know that 95% of all statistics are made up on the spot? My friend shared with me the funny thing about that question is every time someone tells him that, they quote a different percentage. It often is work to verify something as truth; however, President Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826] said it well when he proclaimed, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
The following are just a few of the many simple things to look for when identifying the validity of statistics:
-How recent was the study conducted? How was the data collected? We have greater need for quality research today kept up to date than ever before because times and trends are changing ever more rapidly than in times past.
-Does the source show the study to have been conducted scientifically? Was the study peer reviewed? Were the results repeated with multiple studies?
-What is the name of the URL? Ending in .gov or .edu is a good indication of valid data; still, be careful how the data is compared.
-Is the graph visually skewed to play with the mind, as to persuade viewers to believe their interpretive bias?
-(This is one of my favorites.) Did you know anyone who eats chocolate, their heart stops and they die?Well...eventually, because mortals are prone to die and usually they are not considered dead until after their hearts stops. Correlation does not necessarily indicate causation!
In doing a bit of my own research, I came across www.gapminder.org This website has peaked my interest in research. Filled with innumerable data, the site is set up for the user to compare worldwide trends in economy, society, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, population, and work.
Research can be fun and it is well worth the time. However you decide to inform your mind, we as a people need to be grounded in truth if we are to save ourselves, our neighbors, and unite to save our nations.