As a writer who lives on St. Croix, I must use the Internet for the background research on the stories I write. On the negative side, much of what is published on the Internet is simply unsubstantiated personal opinions. Fortunately, I am living and working more than 300 years in the past and people have taken the trouble to electronically archive original documents and books on line.
When I find a page about pirate activity without a source for the information, I usually ignore it unless I can find a 300 year old source book with eyewitness accounts that substantiates the information. Where I find most of the worst information is when I am searching for new recipes or trying to find the nutritional value of what I eat.
For instance, another of my very low calorie snacks is steamed broccoli which can be done in a steamer or even a colander above a boiling pot of water. The water should not contact the broccoli, only the steam.
While seeking the nutritional data, I stumbled upon the paragraph I quote below.
“You probably didn’t see what was so great about broccoli as a child, but the truth is that this vegetable is one of nature’s superfoods. From its stalk to its flowering head, broccoli is packed with nutrients and vitamins needed for your overall health and wellbeing. This vegetable has been around for centuries, and it has always been used and viewed as the perfect go-to food.”
There are many superlatives in that paragraph even though it doesn’t give any really factual knowledge. For instance; Who has always used and viewed broccoli as the perfect go-to food? What is a go-to food? And how long is always? I like to give credit to the original author no matter how bad the work to confirm this was not a plagiarized post. I used two search engines (here and here) to check on the source of the sentence highlighted in bold. I found eight posted sources word for word on various health and fitness blogs all with a different authors so I have no idea who the original author was.
Interestingly enough, nobody bothered to leave a comment at any of the sites I visited so I assume that nobody really thought about what they were reading. I guess we will now have another generation of mindless mothers who will be feeding their kids broccoli because it is the go-to food full of the nutriments and vitamins needed for overall health and well being. Their kids would have been better off if Mom spent the same amount of time that she wasted surfing the Internet on taking her kids for a walk in the great outdoors or learning Arduino programming to teach to her kids.
On the other hand, Broccoli is bad for you, like, really toxic bad was written by Tim Crowe is an Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia and an accredited dietitian. He started off with a clear warning that “An alternative title I had for this blog post was: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet to do with nutrition”, but I wager this one was more effective in getting your attention.” He than published an over the top rant about the evils of broccoli before telling people that this was pseudo science, exaggerations and corruptions of scientific studies.
Professor Crowe received 158 comments many of them angry and negative because people missed or ignored the subtle warning not to believe everything you read on the net. Commenters feared that careless or unscrupulous readers might quote out of context and spread false informational about broccoli.
I decided to check and see if there was any other reuse of his article. Naturally I took one of his more outrageous sentences and searched, here and here to find other sites that contain the phrase, “And remember those thiocyanates I mentioned earlier? Well those too can cause bladder cancer in rats. We have graphic warning signs about cancer on cigarette packets, so why do health authorities continue to sit on their hands and take no action against broccoli?”
On the positive side, I found his complete article was reposted in full at FitnessReloaded.com by editor Maria Brilaki, a Stanford Engineering grad with an MBA. She helps over 100,000 monthly readers make better, healthier choices. She has a personal trainer certification and spends over 15 hours researching each article people read on her site. It’s all because she doesn’t want to fall for fads or hype anymore so searches for the truth like Tim Crowe.
Unfortunately, we are discussing Internet publishing so there is always an offsetting negative and the prize for that is Ben J. Johnson, Staff Writer for Natural Newd, a site that publishes pseudo science, deceptive science and science fiction. Of course young Ben only published the negative and avoided the part about how to tell real science from junk science as that would allow evaluation of everything published at his site.
As near as I can tell he even drops so low as to violate the terms of a free Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. He does lead with a link to the original article but lists his title as Staff Writer and notes at the end that the source is Broccoli is bad for you, like, really toxic bad by Tim Crowe.
When reposting. you must give appropriate credit to the original author of the material and indicate if changes were made. Well guess Ben is one of those people who never follows the rules.
I like broccoli, it is low in calories and I am not dead yet. I am also down to 202. Guess I’ll just keep snacking on Rabbit food and eat portion controlled meals. I would drop weight much faster if I quit drinking, I am just not ready yet.