Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SearchResearch Challenge (10/11/16): Who backs the site?

When I teach students..

... about doing online research, one of things I tell them is to figure out who's posting this article.  

In other words, find out who wrote it, and what their possible motivations for writing this particular article really are.  People rarely just write--they're usually trying to convince you, the reader, of something they believe.  

In a sense, this is just good old-fashioned research as it was done in days of yore.  But back then, life was simpler--it took a lot of work to publish an article or a book, and usually, there was a lot of fact-checking that went into the process. If it's hard or expensive to publish, then publishers tend to put a lot of time and energy into making sure that what got published was worth publishing.  

But since websites, blogs, online videos (etc etc) are now SO easy to publish, anyone who wants to can easily put out a video, article, or book.  When it's easy to publish, the publication world tends to fill up with content of questionable value.  

So, a really important skill is that of being able to figure out how likely it is for something you find to be accurate.  That leads to this week's Challenge--we'll look at a few questions and try to figure out whether the pages should be believed.  

P/C Google. The inside of a Google data center
(showing cooling lines to chill the data flowing through the internet)

1.  I keep hearing that the Internet is about to run out of addresses.  Is this true?  Here's one article that claims this it's about to happen  Will the Internet really come to a screaming halt sometime soon because it ran out of addresses?  (Important: How do you assess the quality of this article?  Believable, or not?)

2. Here's an article from the EPA claiming that the federal government is suing a farmer for simply plowing his field.  Is this for real?  How would you assess the truthiness (and credibility) of this article?  

3. A favorite topic in certain circles is the question of whether the USA has actually landed a person on the lunar surface.  Here's one YouTube video that makes a series of arguments to claim that it was all a fake.  How would you assess the credibility of this video?  

The important part of the Challenge this week is to develop the skills needed to answer questions of this type.  It's fairly common that people will look to a search engine to answer questions like this, and being able to dig a little more deeply is crucial. 

And that's what I'd like us to focus on this week. Not just whether or not you believe in the claim, but WHAT did you do to dig a little more deeply into the claims of the stories.  

Be sure to tell us what you did.  I'll come back next week with the tale of what I did.  

Show your work! 

Search on. 


  1. The easiest way would be looking at the footer of the page for those tell tale signs of spoofing someone else's credentials. What's more fun is scanning the About Us page for creative writing. :)

    1. Good point. This is often the fastest way to find bogus content. But you have to have some practice at reading these things to determine what constitutes "creative writing," especially when it's in a field in which you're not an expert.

  2. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    1. Read the article. Source is good one and mentions WSJ that is very trust worthy. Went there to read the linked article. Date is 2015 so that helps to find the "truth". Also noticed that articles mentions "this summer" and U.S.

    [run out of internet addresses] Probably not a good one because confirmation bias. I also added Search Tools custom range to this year.

    [IPv6 address example] to look how that looks.

    How to Tell If You’re Using IPv6 I still have IPv4

    [Internet addresses] same custom range

    Contract expiration to end U.S. authority over Internet IP addresses Mentions the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Sep 30, 2016

    ICANN There searched "run out internet addresses"

    IPv6 Fact Sheet

    [icann run out internet addresses] to verify data and thought looking an expert searching with him [IPV6 José Andrade


    I keep hearing that the Internet is about to run out of addresses. Is this true?

    No. IPv4 addresses are not longer available but we have IPv6. One year has gone after that article and Internet is and will be running.

  3. 2. Read the links you provided. The first one is from January 16 and links to another from May 27, 2015

    EPA Facts site mentions ERA in one paragraph instead of EPA that shows maybe not so reliable

    there are lots of things the rule doesn’t do

    The rule only protects waters historically covered under the Clean Water Act. It doesn’t interfere with private property rights, and it only covers water—not land use

    [epa Clean Water Act]

    [epa clean water act fine Wyoming]

    Wyoming rancher facing $20M in EPA fines claims victory, keeps cash, stock pond Mr. Johnson agreed to plant willow trees and temporarily limit livestock access on a portion of the pond.

    [waters of the United States WOTUS] to read more about the law


    Went to Whois nothing that provides this time credibility or lack of it.

    [epa wheat grower in Tehama California] in News. Many results

    A land-use case that's enough to furrow a farmer's brow


    Here's an article from the EPA claiming that the federal government is suing a farmer for simply plowing his field. Is this for real?

    A: Article is from a Environmental Policy Alliance. Not from Environmental Protection Agency’s. And yes, farmer is being sued for plowing. They said he is destroying "vernal pools" and these are considered wetlands. LATimes says: "The pools evaporate instead of drain, thus offering habitat to creatures like the fairy shrimp, a creature you may remember from your list of greatest childhood disappointments as sea monkeys."

    The name of the site can make people confused with the other EPA.

    At first article looks not credible. And, it shows some bias about environment. In my opinion credibility is good once you check the examples mentioned in it. But also at the end shows their point of view making in some degree generalizations.

    1. 3.

      Before searching 3, today Google announces Labeling fact-check articles in Google News

      To do this question 3:

      Saw the video and his thoughts are really good. So now is time to SearchReSearch to assess credibility. One important thing is that he claims it is a theory not a fact. That helps to his credibility (even if what he says is not true)

      My path is to investigate some of the things he says and look for the other side of the story. And then decide if it is credible or not.

      [flag waving moon]

      the longer we wait after the flag was planted in
      the lunar surface, the less "wind" there seems to be.

      Also mentions, there is a metal pole running along the top of the flag to keep it spread out.

      [no stars first time moon]

      Apollo 11 Moon landing: conspiracy theories debunked.The following reasons have all been offered as proof that the Moon landings which began with Apollo 11's touchdown on July 20 1969 were faked.

      Why do some people believe the moon landings were a hoax?

      Aldrin and Armstrong Q&A; no stars

      11 Proofs That The Apollo Moon Landings Were NOT Fake


      A favorite topic in certain circles is the question of whether the USA has actually landed a person on the lunar surface. Here's one YouTube video that makes a series of arguments to claim that it was all a fake. How would you assess the credibility of this video?

      A: I already told how evaluate credibility. I have to say that even reading both sides of the story some will believe Moon Landing was a hoax and others will believe it happened. In my opinion, of course this event happened and the best evidence is that no one else tried to go there. That means why spend money in something that somebody already did and had success. Plus, if it was fake, in Cold War, for example, could tell Moon was fake and credibility of The United States ended.

      One more evidence, to make a fake landing, the number of people involved is big and with more people more complex to keep a secret.

      I also need to say that the video is super interesting and watching it made me know some facts that were new for me. So not credible but at least is well made and helps to search for science,to verify and to learn.

    2. I forgot to mention the fact-checking in Google News. (I'll talk about that later.) It's worth knowing that the facts in Google News are human-checked.

      I also appreciate your comment about the number of people who were involved in the moon landing. It's hundreds of thousands of people... it's unlikely that ALL of them would keep a conspiracy like this to themselves for all these years...

  4. Deb and Anne here- This topic is so interesting for us because this is what we teach at our high school! But not everyone seems to get how important this is.
    Q1) Looked at the date of the article and it is a year old so not the most recent information for a topic like this. Looked up Darren Orf and found out via Linked In that he is a journalist with degrees in journalism. Doesn't mean that he couldn't be an expert in this topic but he doesn't appear to have a background in computer technology. Checked the link to the WSJ article. Also a year old. So we try to find more recent information. Did a search on google using terms suggested by google internet running out IP addresses. Checked out an article from Sept. 2015 from Wired magazine which confirmed that we did run out of IP addresses from version IPv4 but that IPv6 was added in the late 1990's. I would consider a source like Wired fairly reliable for tech information but scanned several other tech sites as well. They all confirmed the move to IPv6 and how problems with incompatibility between the 2 systems was being worked out.
    Will post other questions in new responses

  5. When Anne and I teach website evaluation one of the methods we use is the CRAP detection method (also use the 5 W's - when, who, what, why, where) and this site sends a red flag up when you get to the P for purpose in CRAP or the Why in 5's. Looking at who is responsible for the site it is very clear that the Environmental Policy Alliance while trying to make you think it is from the EPA is really an advocacy group which is trying to warn people about the high cost of environmental regulations. So while we haven't looked up the actual case we'd be very cautious with this information as it appears this group has a clear agenda. Did a search for "john Duarte" california EPA led to many hits including newspaper accounts of the case of farmer John Duarte vs. the EPA. So while I wouldn't vouch for the "truthiness" of the original article linked it does appear from reading various newspaper accounts that there is some truth to this story and that the govt. may have been overzealous in their charges against this farmer. This issue appears so charged that people will probably form opinions based on their views of strict adherence to environmental regulations vs. those who feel that people should be allowed to do what they want (within reason) on their own property.

  6. Q3)- USing our CRAP method - first thing that stands out is the name of the site - LOL Shane Dawson. That alone would be enough to cause us to doubt the veracity of this video. It did make us look into other sites that claimed that the moon landing was fake to see if there were any from more reputable sources. Doing a search on conspiracy theories moon landing led to some other sites with similar theories but again appeared to be from sources that didn't appear to have scientific backgrounds. National Geographic did a site on moon landing myths busted which went through all the conspiracy theories and disproved them. The responses come from people who are experts in various fields so this appears to be a much more credible response than any of the conspiracy theory sites.

    1. Nice job, Anne and Deb! Thanks for the 5W's and CRAP mentions. I give a link to the CRAP mnemonic in my answer. I'll write more about this topic in the future.

    2. Dan thanks! This is the link to our libguide page on information literacy -
      Students love the image of the man sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper. Seems to help them remember this acronym!

    3. I agree with you, Dr. Russell. Thanks for the mentions Deb and Anne. And thanks, Dr. Russell for your comment in my post. I didn't know this that you mention "It's worth knowing that the facts in Google News are human-checked." That is pretty cool. I still haven't found one even when checking News in English, maybe it is only for USA and not, as other products, to a language.