Archive for September, 2008

Finding gems in the sea of information

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Each day I receive email notifications of activity on the Internet that relate to birds and bird training. It is quite surprising how much information there is out there and how much more is being written every day. Now, you might think that this is a great thing that must be raising the bar in terms of the health and well-being of companion birds. However the truth is that as the volume of information grows so does the problem of separating the good information from the not-so-good.
In the scientific community there is a process called peer-review that is designed to filter the information; it allows new ideas and hypotheses to be reviewed and commented on by other experts in the field. Unfortunately there is no similar process filtering the flow of information onto the Internet. This means that anyone who wants can create an account at and start posting their care and training ideas for anyone to read.
So, how can someone searching for help with their companion bird select the most accurate information from this sea of articles and videos? There a few simple rules that one can apply that may help.
First I suggest that you check the profile or biography of the person writing a blog. Many blogs are written anonymously, if the only name given is a nickname like “birdlover32” or “admin” I am immediately suspicious. If the writer is being secretive about who they are can we really trust what they are writing?
Second, is there any third-party support for what they are writing? Does the writer acknowledge where they found the information they are presenting? Sometimes there is unique information that a writer may have gained from their own personal experience, however, it is highly unlikely that anyone writing about bird care or training is presenting information that 100% original and of their own creation. Be especially suspicious if the blog is anonymous and there are no references to third party support for the statements made. Even when sources are quoted search for the quoted material and read that too, many times a writer will “cherry-pick” just what supports their information from a much larger article, one that contains the full story.
Third, look for a second or even a third writer who is presenting the same or similar ideas. Apply the first two rules above to those writers as well. If you find the information being presented in multiple articles by writers who tell you who they are and what their experience is, plus they references their information sources then you are now getting close to finding good information.
The golden rule is to always have a healthy distrust of anything you read on the Internet until you have done your own research or at least asked a trusted source for their opinion on the material.
The Internet is a valuable resource; these days rather than ordering piles of books on various subjects I find myself staring at a Google page more and more often. Using Google and doing research are skills that each of us needs to develop if we are to find the gems of information that are being published for “free.” I placed the word free in quotation marks because this information is not truly free; it requires each of us to invest a large amount of time finding the good information.