A Self Improvement Technique I Employ Almost Every Day

The self improvement technique discussed in this article is most likely not what you'll expect, because it's not something you'd commonly find filed away in any 'self improvement technique vault'.

It's to do with the topic of Reliable Sources.

In other words: the Internet abounds with educational information, but not all of these facts are actually facts. In fact, a great number of these facts are actually opinions with an identity crisis.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

That said, let me begin with the SPECIFIC instance that inspired me to write this article.

Web Surfing Is By Far My Favorite Sport

It was 1984.

Not the book, the year.

And how I had been transported back in time to this date was via that wonderful highway: the World Wide Web.

And the digital time machine I took to get there was one called thepeoplehistory.com.

As a vehicle, this website proved to be a bit of a problem, however, as it did indeed take me back in time, but to an alternate universe of the past where things were apparently slightly different.

It informed me that in 1984 the AIDS virus was identified.

Not true.

Granted this seemed to be the only 'poor fact' on the site, it unfortunately meant that everything else should then be questionable about this little corner of the Web also. First off, there was no obvious link to where the data in question had been obtained, which isn’t to say the resource list wasn’t available on thepeoplehistory.com, but it should have been displayed more clearly if it did exist. Secondly, the information was spoken about so simply that it seemed not as though it were intended to teach at all, but rather merely to entertain, as a sort of Trivial Pursuit quiz show might.

So I perused another link in regards to the year 1984 (as I was, for some unfathomable reason, keenly interested to see how different the real world of 1984 had been in contrast to the science-fiction world of the classic book with the same name) and I found another site (askville.amazon.com) where the information was ALSO incorrect in regards to the AIDS virus 'being discovered on this date'. This site, it would seem, is similar to Yahoo Answers, wherein Internet users post factual answers (or sometimes disguised guesses) to questions, so certain information is absolutely correct and thus useful, while other information is more than suspicious and perhaps even potentially detrimental to the very fabric of reality itself. Although now I may be exaggerating. The user who posted the incorrect information on askville.amazon.com said it came from the website inthe80s.com. I didn’t go back to verify if this incorrect information did come from this site though for now I was becoming frustrated as this entire debacle reminded me of what I so intensely dislike about the web.

As a tool, I believe the Internet is the most wonderful and advanced piece of technology we have today.

That said, I feel it’s a pity that because it is so easy to upload information online, you don’t JUST, quite frequently, have incorrect information ‘out there’ as a result; you additionally, quite frequently, have the same incorrect information ‘out there’ many many many times over because people often simply repost false information from one site to another, where other people reposted it from another site, and so on and so forth.

Now I don’t believe the solution to a problem like this involves there being more stringent control over the Internet, let me just get that out of the way.

That the Internet is such a free-to-use tool makes it vastly appealing - and successful - which means more people use it, which means it becomes a more valuable digital realm to be a part of. But I believe people should be taught HOW to use it properly; for one thing, sourcing information from the most REPUTABLE websites they can find, but still checking even their most trusted sources ‘just in case’.

I eventually found that it was on June 1981 that the first recognized case of AIDS was made. To quote directly from Wikipedia: ‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 5 homosexual men in Los Angeles, California have a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems’. From this point on, I furthermore discovered a number of other interesting facts concerning the virus. For instance: two men (an American and French scientist) both squabbled over who isolated HIV first, and this matter, apparently, is dealt quite accurately with in a movie that was made, in part, concerning the ordeal. The film, should you wish to locate and watch it, is called And The Band Played On.

Wikipedia though?

How much more reliable are ‘they’ when you are wishing to source accurate information relative to so many other, sometimes painfully obvious, unreliable websites?

I firmly believe that Wikipedia is, far more often than not, a hugely reliable online encyclopedia to gather information from for a number of reasons, a few being...

* their information often seems to have been obtained from a WIDE VARIETY of different websites, which are usually also RELIABLE websites, listed CLEARLY at the bottom of ALL of their pages. A high standard is followed and maintained, in short.

* if certain topics dealt with need ‘cleaning up’, they speak OPENLY about this, never pretending all of their knowledge is totally ‘on the ball’. So they CONSTANTLY do their all to improve the content of their website.

* MANY minds work TOGETHER to make sure Wikipedia is as reliable as possible. And based on how so much of Wikipedia’s information is conveyed, many of these many minds are thoroughly INTELLIGENT, CLEAR in their written articulation, and WELL-INFORMED or well-learned.

Wikipedia, furthermore, is not shy about catering LARGE VOLUMES of information in their articles (which also makes their data seem more legitimately reliable), but you can also, quite often, revert to Simple English when you want your facts to be 'dumbed down'. This is a feature of Wikipedia that not many people know of, and I implore you to use it occasionally, because sometimes you just need 'a grasping' of a subject, not every little detail concerning it. To find if a Wikipedia entry has the Simple English feature (because not all entries do), just scroll down the list of languages (on the left side of the screen) that the entry can be converted into (if it can be converted into any languages at all, that is) and one of the listed languages might be Simple English.

Yes, anybody can post new information on Wikipedia, and anyone can edit content already on the website, but this activity is always CAREFULLY monitored, especially when it is a new user (or a relatively new user) uploading new information or editing old information. In the past, when I have seen moderately incorrect (or downright false) information on Wikipedia, it has NEVER stayed up for too long a period of time. That is not to say that in the rare cases of false information appearing on Wikipedia, which does occasionally slip through the cracks, that it is always dealt with; it is simply that, in my own experience, it always has been dealt with.

I could waffle on and on in lieu of this all; however, if you would prefer to see for yourself why I’m personally certain Wikipedia very often holds a library of exceptionally reliable information, especially when pitted against most other similar encyclopedia websites online, then watch this TED talk given by Jimmy Wales (the founder of Wikipedia) where he speaks intelligently about the matter himself.

Or perhaps you'd prefer to watch (or additionally watch) this short, but well presented and easy-to-understand, self improvement technique video concerning the topic at hand - 'how to find reliable research on the Internet'.

All that aside, in the year 1984 (according to Wikipedia) the following interesting events (according to me) that really did occur were...

* January 24
- The Apple Macintosh is introduced to the world.

* February 3
- Dr. John Buster and the research team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center announce history's first embryo transfer, from one woman to another resulting in a live birth.

* April 15
- British comedian Tommy Cooper suffers a massive heart attack and dies while live on TV.

* May 14
- The one dollar coin is introduced in Australia.
- Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, is born.

* May 31
- Mecklenburg Correctional Center - 6 inmates - including James and Linwood Briley escape from a death row facility, the first and only occasion this has ever happened in the US.

* June 22
- Virgin Atlantic Airways makes its inaugural flight.

* July 23
- Vanessa Lynn Williams becomes the first Miss America to resign when she surrenders her crown, after nude photos of her appear in Penthouse magazine.

* July 25
- Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a space walk.

* October 23
- The world learns from moving BBC News TV reports that a famine is plaguing Ethiopia, where thousands of people have already died of starvation due to a famine and as many as 10,000,000 more lives are at risk.

* November 25
- Band Aid records the charity single 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' to raise money to combat the famine in Ethiopia.

* November 28
- Over 250 years after their deaths, William Penn and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn are made Honorary Citizens of the United States.

Lastly, again concerning reliable sources of information, I must make mention of one website, called Snopes, that debunks myths extremely well, and is usually hugely factual too.

When somebody now sends you one of those forwarded emails concerning a matter that is ‘totally true’ (but quite often, I think, seems downright suspicious), check to see if there is anything apropos the topic at Snopes, and if there is, find out whether the information can be trusted or not.

When Snopes can’t validate a piece of information either way, it is to their credit that they always also admit this.

One word of warning though: quite often a forwarded email about an issue which is ‘less than likely to be true’ will now conclude in declaring something in the vein of ‘the aforementioned information has been validated by Snopes’, which is often a downright lie.

The only way to truly ascertain if a piece of data has been verified by a respectable website, like Snopes, is by visiting the website YOURSELF to find out if this is the case.

And now - so as to avoid being a hypocrite - herewith follows my list of references (which I normally place at the very bottom of my articles)...


- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luc_Montagnier#History_of_the_discovery_of_HIV
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gallo#HIV.2FAIDS_research
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_the_Band_Played_On_(film)
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources

- http://www.inthe80s.com/time1984.shtml.

- http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1984.html
- http://askville.amazon.com/historic-thing-happened-1984/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=12541555


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