Today we are talking about going upstream on news items that cite scholarly sources and figuring out how to read them laterally.
Filter bubble follow up
I was feeling irresponsible since last class when I claimed that Facebook could determine the amount of time you spend reading posts and factored that into their News Feed algorithm; I didn’t cite any sources and so I worried that I too was a victim of #fakenews. So I tracked down a source:
Two software engineers at Facebook wrote this piece in 2015, telling the public that the company “…discovered that if people spend significantly more time on a particular story in News Feed than the majority of other stories they look at, this is a good sign that content was relevant to them.” As a result, if you are on Facebook and a post “was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, [Facebook’s algorithms] infer that it was something you found interesting and [it] may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.” So again, you do not have to like, comment, share, or otherwise engage with the news item in order for it to be factored into your future News Feed results.
Relatedly, Wired ran a story on Tuesday about Facebook’s history of control with its algorithm when the stakes involved jeopardizing its $470+ billion market value. Hopefully we will talk more about algorithms in the upcoming second unit.
According to a Recent Study…
For your 5th blog post I asked you to go upstream on a news report that cites a recent study. There were a number of news stories to choose from in the headlines yesterday, including:
- “CTE breakthrough: Biomarker may indicate disease in living patients” from Fox News
- “Playing Tackle Football Before 12 Is Tied to Brain Problems Later” from the New York Times
- “Why Lack of Sleep Might Be Good and Bad for You” from Newsweek
- “Pregnant Women Should Still Get The Flu Vaccine, Doctors Advise” from NPR
- “Study: Pennsylvania, New Jersey Rank Top 5 Best States For Teachers” from CBS Philly
These were just a few. Did anyone choose these news sources or follow up on a similar study?
- How did your searches go? Did anyone find an impact factor? Did you use Google Scholar?
- Did you “accurately summarize the state of research and the consensus of experts in a given area, taking into account majority and significant minority views” as Caulfield suggests? How hard was this, being an outsider? What does Caulfield say about this? Hint:
Often you are not in a position to critically read original scholarly research because it take many years to develop the knowledge and literacies required to become an expert. This expertise can be observed if you try to pick up a journal from any given field. What makes these journals really credible, however, is the process of peer review. What is peer-review? The library at NC State explains it quite succinctly in this YT video:
Yet, for all of the credibility peer-reviewed journals muster, sometimes these journals are not even immune to the effects of the web. Consider this article, “The Case for Colonialism,” which was published in Third World Quarterly last month.
Do some quick Google searching to find out about how this was received by the wider academic community, and what other sources say about this journal and the author. Are they the same? Although this is a rare case, why is it important to read laterally? What else might we find when we read laterally?
Homework for Tuesday, 10/3
- Browse the “Fieldguide” section of Caulfield (look in the Table of Contents from the main page) and skim sections that interest you.
- In your 6th WordPress post, briefly propose 3 different possible claims to fact-check for your final Truth-o-meter post. This is the post that is worth 50% of your unit grade — re-read the assignment page for details and look at my example. Use a numbered list format in WordPress to separate these 3 claims and write a paragraph (¶) for each that makes a case for why it would be a good choice for a longer, ~1,000-word post. You might consider re-reading the first row of the rubric, as well as conduct some preliminary fact-checking to find out if your claim will be a good choice for this assignment. In other words, this is your chance to do the preliminary research that will help you be successful. We’ll share these with each other in class on Tuesday. Does everyone feel like they have good places to look for potential claims?