Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A new blog, some new fun!

No, not me. I've stumbled across Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life and am enjoying it. The post that got me today was How to Spot Myths or Old Wives Tales from a Distance. If you are like me, and since your reading this you probably are, you get your share of questions and forwards from folks that you know is complete trash, and yet, people forward to you as refined internet gold.

Normally I'll push back gently and teach folks how to use Snopes (and kudos to those of you reading who now use it as a litmus test before forwarding!). Normally though, it takes years to drive a good Snopes spike through the myth vampire. It hadn't occurred to me that people may be being misled because of a lack of information on how to spot these scams. With that in mind, a few snippets of wisdom from Dumb Little Men!
3. Is the source reliable? Who is telling you this information? Are they likely to know the truth about the subject? More importantly, if they are just passing on information, is their source reliable. A classic old wives tale will start with the phrase, "They say that...”. This is an attempt to sound authoritative without the onerous task of actually being authoritative.

When someone tells you "They say that 60% of businesses fail in their first year and 95% of online businesses don't make it past 6 months" your alarm bells should start to ring. Who are They? Why don't they have a name? Can I contact them or refer to their research to see if their claim is correct?

4. Does it match with reality?
Sometimes there are opportunities for us to test Old Wives Tales in the real world. This happens when we can compare the claim with what we observe for ourselves.
"If you let a baby cry itself to sleep, it will develop separation anxiety"
Look at a few cases of children that have been allowed to cry themselves to sleep and see how they have developed. If you see examples that have grown up into well adjusted children, then you know the Old Wives Tale isn't as water tight as it sounds. A dozen cases cannot conclusively prove an old wives tale correct, but just one or two might disprove it.
Check out the article for all 10....

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