Removing bad information from the internet

handbook imageI know I will sound ridiculous saying this but I have come to understand that the internet is just infested with lies and that presenting facts in response works about as well as McBain’s goggles.

Here’s a link to a Debunking Handbook that explains how and why that happens.

The more I’ve learned about gardening (for example), the more I’ve come to understand just how pervasive some lies have become.

Just about all the advice I read when I first started gardening was dead wrong. And I can’t help but notice that those instructions so often seemed to be (and often still are) repeated almost verbatim — almost as if everyone was reading from an industry cue card. I guess there is a whole lot of cut and paste thinking going on in this world.

This misinformation wasn’t just from well intentioned but misinformed bloggers and forums — I kept running into the bad advice even from places with credentials like this one.

Telling people to dig deep into clay soil and apply herbicides isn’t harmless. Digging deep and applying herbicides to clay sub soil destroys its texture and kills soil organisms. Not to mention the harm it can bring to all the above ground life that may come in contact that soil. And it creates a situation that turns a new gardener into someone even more likely to continue to be a customer. When they find their plants fail, they have to buy more plants. And they might need to buy some soil and some more herbicide and some snake oil fertilizer … and well anyone can see the cycle that is created here and who actually benefits.

I wish places like the Aggie-Horticulture site would use more of their internet influence to teach people about soil horizons instead or permaculture principles like using small and slow solutions to build and nurture soil. That said, I am pleased to see that when new gardeners do a search today they are more likely to find sound advice but how on earth do we erase the lingering lies?

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15 thoughts on “Removing bad information from the internet

  1. Two or three years ago I had a senior moment and wrote down the wrong name for a white Japanese Anemone on one of the monthly articles I write for the website of my garden group. The name I gave the plant doesn’ t exist, it came from some weird cross -wiring in my brain and I didn’ t even realise I had made the mistake until reading it a year later. The worrying thing was that I came across several other pieces on the net, which talked with great authority about this Anemone, using the name that I had invented. I changed the name on the website and hoped that people would forget about it. But it shows how easy it is to spread false information without even meaning to.

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  2. Thank you Jim in IA for bringing up Snopes. Once upon a time (long long ago) I’d respond with Snopes links each time I got some urban nonsense forwarded email (those were pre-blogging and pre-facebook days).

    What was true then remains a fact: When it comes to many topics, the internet sheds a lot more heat than light.

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  3. I don’t like a lot of the info that state extension offices tend to promote. The info seems old-fashioned and not in a good way. There’s still a large group of people who make “gardening” more complicated than it really should be. And, more beholden to products that are completely unnecessary.

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