Critical thinking is the investigator’s greatest tool. You might have developed a good way of evaluating sources such as my 13-point check list for evaluating information, but you must apply it with intellectual rigor.
The authority of the source and the accuracy of the information are key issues to examine.
- What is the reputation of the data, and the data-provider? Has this source of data been cited elsewhere?
- What is the reliability of the source?
- How can you document or qualify the source of the information?
- Are the complex issues of data integrity and validity oversimplified?
With regard to authority and accuracy, I suggest you read the interview with Cody Lundin who is a professional survival instructor with over 25 years of experience. Read this to learn more about Survival TV from his perspective as an expert. He calls this stuff, Survival Entertainment with good reason and says, “…anyone who would trust their life to what they see on reality television shouldn’t breed.”