Navigating through the facts and fictions of the internet is not always easy; however, it is a positive thinker’s responsibility to take on the endeavor before making use of or passing on information.
Here are some basic google tips and simple fact checking skills that will help you better understand the issues and information you care about.
1. Search Google using boolean expressions
Boolean expressions are basically symbols that you can add to your searches in google. They are super simple to use! Google is pretty amazing at returning results that answer our questions but sometimes, especially when dealing with tough questions, you need to hone things in a bit.
By adding a minus sign right before a word, Google will perform the search and EXCLUDE any results that contain that word.
Another boolean expression example is to enclose parts of the search phrase in double quotations. When you do this, Google will only include results that contain that exact phrase; rather than results containing any of the words in any order not next to each other.
There are other boolean statements. And keep in mind you can use them on most search platforms including for files in your own computer. Looking for a photo and getting a bunch of other file types in the results? Add a minus before the file extension type in your search: -.txt
Here is the full list of available commands you can make use of to improve your search results on Google: Google Search Operators
2. Set the time frame
You can narrow down results by limiting the results to specific times they were posted to the internet. Run a search and then click the “Search Tools” button to the right of the menu above the search results.
3. Check your sources
One important key to a good investigation is qualifying your witnesses. Not everything on the internet deserves equal weight of validity.
The government has lots of useful public records information that spans decades. Adding “.gov” to your search will return government websites.
Universities also offer a wealth of quality information including a lot of fascinating studies. Adding “.edu” will return higher education institutions.
While any piece of information may be a good clue, actually following the lead fully is part of a positive thinker’s responsibility. A quality website will provide sources for their statements that you can investigate or at least terms that you can google for your self.
Someone talks about a study; find the study for yourself. Google any names mentioned (or ideally the study name if offered) and any key words relevant to the study. The abstract including results and conclusions are usually available for free with a simple search or two.
Someone is quoted as saying something crazy? Go find the quote or bill or whatever for yourself and the context it was said in. It’s probably on the internet somewhere. Whenever possible, and it usually is, get to the original source of the topic at hand.
4. Ask the right questions and believe you will find the answers
Searching for answers is often a multistep process where one question leads to just enough information to know what the next question to ask is. Adding complexity to your search and honing the results is a continuous process until the answer is found. The hardest part is knowing what question to ask.
A positive thinker has faith that the answer is findable. Every query is another step closer. There is no giving up when the answer is just a matter of asking the right question. There is only trying different searches based on the new information you find from more searches!
5. Not much in life is black & white
Life is complex. Issues that divide humanity are complex. Everything comes in shades of grey when you really get into it. To paraphrase Socrates: wisdom is knowing we know nothing; even with the limitless wealth of information that is the internet.
A positive thinker is a detective simply looking for the most likely answers but open to all possibilities. When we are more interested in finding truth than being right we are letting go of the ego and that is really what all the researching (experiencing) is about in a way, right?
“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
What are your Google search tips and fact checking tactics advice? Leave a comment below and let us know!