To quote from the spider-man movie, "With great power comes great responsibility". And as the saying goes, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Hence, Alex Halavais asks how far bloggers move from opinion leaders to shillers. Kevin picks up the conversation by expanding on how the "Blogosphere Shill" works. Near the end of his post, he tips:
Finally, never ever trust just one review or reference. Make it a habit to check a few sources so you can make the better judgement of what’s out there.
I commented that this was what many librarians, during Information Literacy classes, have been saying -- that web-based information should be verified and checked against other sources (because anyone can just post anything on the web and appear as if they are an authority on the subject).
However, my observation is that people still inherently take what they read from websites and blogs at face value.
I attribute this to our ingrained habit of reading.
Generally speaking, whether we recognise it or not, we inherently trust what we read in books because we've been indoctrinated that what you read can only be good and true. After all, we read the books teachers make us read, and then we pass our exams (generally speaking of course).
We can trust books because published books have gone through editorial rigour (i.e. before something is deemed worthy to be printed and sold, there are many layers that edits and checks for facts etc).
Many generations later, along comes the Internet. It changes the nature in which information is published. Anyone with the equipment (which is inexpensive compared to printing presses and distribution networks) and know-how could publish. And people would read it.
But what has not changed is our unconscious mindset towards the act of reading. Just like how Pavlov's dogs have been conditioned to respond to a bell, we respond to reading by thinking "if it's published, it must be true". Unconsciously.
Wasn't it Yoda who said something like "You must unlearn what you have learned"? But how do we unlearn something we don't consciously know that we've learnt?
Maybe this: Rational Distrust by Default (as opposed to paranoia, or "extreme irrational distrust"). Meaning, we first entertain the notion that everything we read is false. Then we verify and countercheck.
Our levels of Rational Distrust would be proportionate to the importance of the information which we seek (e.g. I will check more times if I stand to lose $1,000 as opposed to $1).