Atlas Thesis Project: Blatant Lies
by Lauren Monitz
Have you ever wondered how much information on the internet is actually legitimate, well- researched news or knowledge? More often than not, people assume a site's credibility if it looks even remotely professional, as opposed to just some average Joe posting crap he heard from the bum across the street. I know I'm guilty of it, and I'm sure most of my classmates are, as well. We want to trust what we read and hear as opposed to not trusting anyone or anything. I think this is mostly because the internet was created to be a tool as opposed to a research hindrance. And let's face it, we're lazy. We often just trust the first answer to a question we find because verifying the information would take that much more effort.
But in reality, anyone can claim whatever they want on the web about any subject- academic or personal just to share information or express a point of view. People should be much more critical and skeptical of things they read on the internet and take everything with a grain of salt. There are plenty of sites denying the Holocaust happened, denying man landed on the moon, Ward Churchill-like ramblings, and basic logical fallacies that are "supported" with numerous facts, pictures and statistics claimed as evidence. Let's explore just how naïve people can be about things they read on the internet.
For my thesis project, I created a fake liquor and spirits consumer report blog. It is 100% fabricated by me with loosely related sources, completely made-up content, and a makeshift professional design look. Let this serve as a warning to you- don't believe everything you read.
View the Blog Here
Audience reaction: 100% positive. Not a single person left any comments that there's no way this can be true or sounded rediculous. People were even really excited about it. Maybe they really do just want to believe that alcohol is good for you... who knows?
Random responses to discussion board postings from Google Groups and Digg.com:
Hurray for beer! They should do an article on drunken blogging! interesting articles, but layout needs to be a bit more colourful i think.
That is great news for me : ) Interesting articles on booze, not too shabby.
Re: Drunk Dialling
Did you know that Virgin Mobile Australia has a facility on their phones so that you can key in the numbers you simply must NOT call BEFORE you go out drinking and this blocks them for 24 hours - mainly to stop you calling your ex or your boss or somebody else who would be inappropriate?
They also have another great facility that you can surreptiously dial a number they call "Dr Date" who will call you back in a few mins and talk you through getting out of an awkward date.
I hear they are both used a lot!!
Email conversation as to why I got kicked off myhub.com:
(*Basically, I got careless and accidently used my real email address which didn't match my username. I do find it funny that fake names are unacceptable, but fake information is legit. And they never gave me a straight answer as to why the name even mattered).
Lauren, several entries have been made on Boulder site of YourHub.com from a "Dr. Robert Miller" that list your email address. Do these stories come from you? Do you know who they come from, if not?
Thank you for your concern, but yes I did write those. I needed a pen name for a research project I'm doing about journalism on the web and how people inherently trust stories based on the look of the person that wrote them.
Lauren, I cannot accept entries written by a false name, especially one that preposes to be a medical doctor.
I understand your concern, but can i just ask why you feel that way? you never would have known had i used a more generic email address. Thanks. Lauren
YourHub.com is not intended to be an anonymous site or to have users using false names. While some users using false names will succeed, we do our best to weed them out. We contact all users prior to printing them in our print publication to verify who the author is. While it isn't a perfect system, it has been pretty successful in identifying users posting under false pretenses. Thanks, and I encourage you to post using your real name.
Research question #1: So, what exactly makes a website look credible or believable?
Research quesion #2: How did you promote this blog so people would actually read it?