Patch #318 Don't follow the herd
Back in the day when I was an elementary school librarian, one of my favorite lessons was about the Tree Octopus ...
I made worksheets with questions like "What is the habitat of the tree octopus?" and "What is their means of locomotion?"
I linked to this website on my SmartBoard
and pointed out how hard it was to read compared to books written for the students' age level.
Always there were one or two students who would raise their hands while saying, "But Mrs. Ackert ..." Knowing my students, I would gently reassure them, "Not yet ... I'll call on you later, I promise."
The final part of the worksheet was "How do you know this website is correct?" To which students would say "if it's on the internet it has to be true" or "check the encyclopedia." So I would hand a print encyclopedia to someone and ask them to look it up. While they flipped pages, I'd turn to one of my hand-raisers and ask, "You had something to say earlier?" At which point they would blurt out words to the effect of "Mrs. Ackert, there can't be any such thing as a tree octopus!"
I don't know how many kids "got" that lesson, but I'm hoping there are a few more skeptical information consumers in the world by virtue of my efforts. Judging from this article:
"We the People" need all the skepticism we can muster!
In response to Dana's comment, here's what I was seeing on Facebook and what I did about it ...