AI: Following Up?


I sometimes read a news report about a science story, and find myself suspecting that there are either inaccuracies in it, or at least a gap in the story – some important piece of information seems to be missing. Sometimes I follow up by checking to see if my favorite skeptical bloggers have blogged about it, and once in a rare while I will look up the original source if I can get access to it. But often I’m too busy (or lazy) to actually do that follow up, and this makes me feel like a bad skeptic.

Do you look for more information when a news story sounds fishy to you? Do you ever seek out the original source? If you don’t do that, do you feel guilty too, or is that just me?

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  1. I do this frequently, especially when it both sounds fishy AND is being spread around by people on social media.

    Of course, being a good skeptic would really mean investigating when it doesn’t sound fishy (since it jives with my per-conceived notions), but who has the time for that?

    • You are absolutely right – checking out even the plausible sounding (perhaps especially those) reports would be ideal… but I admit I’m sort of exhausted even thinking about that!

  2. I’ve certainly done that, particularly when the story references a scientific article. From talking to other scientists, I’ve come to the understanding that journalistic misinterpretation is inevitable, so it almost always pays to go to the source on those (unless the article is written by a professional in the field, usually).

  3. Honestly, I don’t trust most of what I see/hear in the media. Any time I see reporting on a new study or something–especially in the social sciences–I go pull the study and at least skim it. 9/10 times the report is off on details or is sensationalizing it. Most journalists are not trained to read academic literature, so they easily get confused/mistaken and report that instead of being critical in their engagement of the research/literature.

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