Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. -- Lorraine Hansberry

T is for Thinking: the ICYouSee Guide To Critical Thinking

Consider the source.

It is important to find out who created a Web page -- not just names, but something about the authors that might indicate they are "good sources." If you can, look for information about the authors. Often there are no authors listed, so instead you will need to determine who is responsible for the site: a commercial enterprise, a small business, a government body, an academic institution, a professional association, an advocacy group, or just an individual maintaining a blog under a disguised name.

It is easy to think that authors would not be writing unless they were some kind of expert, but that is not always true.

Consider this paper on the Bay of Pigs that is now being offered for sale on the web.
You cannot see the whole paper, but notice that at the bottom of the page there is only source is cited. That in itself should be a warning that the paper has not been well researched, but there is more. The source cited is Jared Weiner. I happen to know this "expert." Jared is currently is a Senior Digital Solutions Architect at ABC News, but I met him when he raised his hand during a class on critical thinking almost 20 years ago. He told me that a Bay of Pigs report he had posted online had over 100 links to it. Then he added that he had written the paper when he was in the EIGHTH GRADE.
Sometimes author information is easily found, but usually you will have to dig around. If you cannot find anything on the page itself, you can often find more by truncating the URL. For example, truncating this webpage's URL to will provide a little bit of information, but it won't make clear what actually is. Clues there, however, can help you track down the information that author was a librarian at the Ithaca College Library when he created this site.

Questions to think about:

  • Who is responsible for the site?
  • What is the author's background and expertise?
  • Is this a commercial, governmental, personal, or academic Web site?

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ICYouSee T is for Thinking
John R. Henderson
Last modified: September 29, 2023