Prove it!

I, like all of my kind, am human.  I, like all of my kind (bloggers), think I know a lot about stuff that I should share with other people.  This is a powder keg situation.  Inevitably, I’m going to blow myself up on occasion.

One of the things I like about Wikipedia is that anything thrown out as fact calls for a citation.  You can’t just say stuff and not say how you know it to be true.  As a blogger, however, I can say any lame brain thing I want to say and call it facts.  In my mind, I don’t need to know something beyond a reasonable doubt–preponderance of evidence will do.  Consequently, if I heard it in passing and it sounds right, I just may run with it, without checking my sources.

A word about sources, though.  Sometimes what looks like a really good source isn’t so good after all.  People, including scientific people, tend to be a little biased at times.  Case in point comes from the Dairy vs. Soy feud.  A recent study [citation needed] by the Dairy Association revealed that eating dairy products resulted in less brain shrinkage than eating tofu.  Take that, soy!  While eating dairy may cause all kinds of digestive problems and make a lot of people obese, at least they will die with healthy brains.  Now, I’m not an expert (even though I play one on the internet), but perhaps there are other factors besides tofu and cheese that contribute to the outcome in question.  I will agree that the brain needs a lot of fat.  I know because I read it somewhere.

There are some sources that have the dubious distinction of being so polarizing that, if I quote from them, I’m sure to make half my audience give up on my sanity.  One such is the Bible.  There is a lot of really, really good stuff about ethics, psychology, history, family, ethnic relations, law, etc. in the Bible.  It’s a regular treasure trove of sound information for living.  But, because it’s “one of those evil religious hate speech books”, a lot of people tend to summarily write off anything that comes out of it.  For those people, citing the Bible is pointless, because they are never going to open one anyway.  For the others, who read one “religiously”,  they can probably find my citation, if they don’t already have it committed to memory.

I was born with the ability to remember almost anything–except where I got it from.   I have read the Bible, for instance, at least ten times from cover to cover, and even in several different languages.  I still can’t, for the life of me, remember where half of the verses I quote come from, even though I have the quotes down cold.  It’s the same with the volumes of internet article and books I read.  The source has just never been as important for me as the actual information.

As I get more into blogging, I’m learning to do a better job of crediting my sources.  It’s really hard for me, because having to stop to find the source usually leads my ADD mind into twenty different directions, resulting in the post being delayed a week to ten days.  But I am learning.  One nice feature on blogs is the inline links.  They allow me to cover a lot of ground without having to write in all the background information.  This alone has brought my average post down from 3000 words to 1500, which puts them inside the realm of possibility for the average three-minute attention span.  I also like that WordPress has a list of suggestions for related articles.  Both of these sources give at least some credence to what I am saying.  However, there is still the A to Z thing.

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I suddenly say things that seem entirely out of place in our conversation.  It’s because of what I call A to Z Syndrome.  You probably know others that have it.  It’s probably more common among ADD people.  My friend says something that gets me thinking about something else, which leads to thinking about another related topic.  In a matter of seconds, my mind has veered as far off the current topic as the distance from A to Z.  At point Z, I reach a conclusion that deserves sharing.  But, after it comes out of my mouth, it baffles the hearer.  Now that you know my affliction, you may have already guessed that I have thought up next week’s blogs and have them half written in my mind.  I still need the citations, though.

Long story short, don’t hate me because I’m careless with sources.  Help me.   Challenge me to prove myself.  Force me to hold myself to the same standards to which I hold other bloggers.  When I read long histories and political diatribes, what always amazes me is the number of pages in the back that I never read.  These are called end notes, and contain all the citations from the book.  I never read them, because I figure the guy didn’t just spew stuff out of thin air if he were going to spend that much time on the end notes.  And I don’t have time to spend tied down in a library reading all the source books and documents.  That’s why I’m reading his book, so I don’t have to read all the others.

I hope I provide you with useful information that’s timely and relevant.  I try to provide enough links for you to learn more and perhaps get a better understanding than I give you.  I’m trying my best.  When I make a mistake, feel free to tell me.  We are all learning every day.  And we are all human.

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