These two little words can be found all around right now. For me, besides just being over-used, the phrase is slightly taunting, laughing at my profession. You see, librarians and educators have dedicated themselves to something we call Information Literacy. One of my favorite classes when I was getting my Masters in Library Science was an Information Literacy course. I talk with people about Information Literacy on a daily basis whenever they ask me for research help. When I buy items for our various non-fiction collections, I use what I know about Information Literacy to buy things that can be trusted to contain good information. I also plan the Learn It @ Your Library programs, which means I try to find experienced presenters with the proper Information Literacy credentials to teach classes at the library on a variety of subjects.
While Information Literacy sounds stuffy, it is the parent of a very non-stuffy acronym meant to help people separate the Fake News from the Real News. We call it the C.R.A.P. test. Here’s how it works. Whenever you wonder if something you read can be trusted, ask yourself:
How recent is this information?
If found on a website, when was the last time this website was updated?
Where does the information come from?
Is it a first-hand account? Or based on hear-say?
Are references provided?
Is the information balanced? Or biased?
Who published the information?
Who wrote this information?
What are their credentials?
Are they generally considered experts on this topic?
Purpose/Point of View
Who is the intended audience?
How is the author connected to the information?
Is the information intended to inform, persuade, sell, entertain, etc.?
By giving everything you hear or read the C.R.A.P. test, you can learn to spot Fake News from a mile away. And when your friends and neighbors ask you how you got so smart, you can tell them you are an expert in Information Literacy.