Text for "Q" of CLEVER QUICK

Appendix ‘B’: Text information for QUICK

B.1: “Q” Questioning Sources



Use all available techniques to determine the best factual resources.

When you approach any subject in this digital age, there is an enormous amount of material at your fingertips for any topic imaginable. The problem lies not in finding enough information. It lies in determining how likely it is that the information you locate is true! Through the use of assorted social media sites, with information shared by pseudo-news organizations, there can be an ‘echo chamber’ effect where the repetition of misleading information is misinterpreted by many to be confirmation of truthfulness. The material may not actually have any basis in fact. Be particularly wary of situations where you are advised to only consider the current source and not to follow up by checking with alternative sources of information. You also need to watch for something called ‘bias’. Facts can be presented, or omitted, in ways to guide your thinking to a particular point of view. ‘Bias’ exists in most information sharing situations, even from otherwise reliable sources. Always be aware of this potential for material to be biased and guard against making your mind up too quickly before checking multiple sources. Truth is not always easy to determine when reviewing resources. That is why it is very dangerous to only rely on a limited set of information sources.

If possible, your first source should be something that has a high probability of truth and accuracy. If you have a text for a course, that is a good starting point. From there your next best bets are reputable encyclopedia sources, either printed or on-line. Many schools have preselected websites that have been given some form of endorsement - these are the best sites to begin your searches with. Once you have an overall understanding of a topic, you will be able to do wider searches. At that point you will be better able to recognize accurate information as well as manipulated information that is a result of false statements, bias and people’s opinions.

You will require some special techniques and questions to determine the usefulness and truthfulness of materials you come across in your research on any given topic. Based on your findings when you apply various filtering techniques and probing questions, you will be in a much better position to determine if you are dealing with information which is “likely true” or “likely false.” Do not use any materials or resources that are not at least “likely true.” You need to be aware that spreading misinformation can have extremely negative consequences to the physical and mental well-being of individuals and society.

Before we embark on our procedures to ensure truthfulness in our resources, we wish to insert a disclaimer. The procedures we suggest here are a starting point. We make no claim to being the definitive choice for critical reading. Any text that would claim that, in our opinion, would be suspect! As this resource is being revised, the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is expanding at an incredible rate. In the months and years after the publication of this material, you would be wise to check supplemental sources in how to determine accuracy and truthfulness of the information you use. We can predict with certainty that it will be more and more difficult to tell the difference between truth and fiction in the years ahead.


Take full advantage of the features of the materials.

The first set of filters to use when you look at a text or any material that is new to you relates to the set of standard features which are often found in books, but which can also be present in some form or other connected to other types of written documents and on-line material. It is to your advantage to find out what features there are which will help you learn as well as verify the validity of the material. The first thing to do is to SCAN through the material looking for the standard features. As you find and consider each one, your comprehension will be enhanced, and you will have found some clues to the overall validity of the information.

You should begin with the Title & Copyright Pages/Information. These pages often contain a lot of clues to get you started. Check out the author. Other publications are often listed here, on an accompanying page, or possibly in an attached paragraph for an on-line article. This allows you to determine if the author may be more or less of an expert in an area than another author. Check what company is listed as publisher. This is useful in assessing validity and how likely the material is to be the truth. For example, you might lean toward National Geographic, a trusted scientific journal, and away from The National Enquirer, a sensationalist publication with a questionable track record for full truth. The copyright date and place of publication are also useful to compare with other sources for seeing how up to date the source is, and whether it was published in a country that had severe restrictions on the information that could be printed. The latter issue may point to some built in bias depending on the type of material presented. If you are on-line and some or all this information is missing, be skeptical about the validity of the information. A reputable source will almost always give full source information as noted.

Turning to the Table of Contents will help you to locate appropriate general sections quickly. It will also tell you a little about the main points and how they are related. Does the information seem to be in line with your early research, or does it seem to present different types of information? If different, proceed with caution. Everything may be fine and the material factual, or it could be based just on someone’s opinion.

If there is a Preface and/or Introduction, you can actually save time by starting your reading with those parts. They will often describe the purpose of the book according to the author and outline what is covered. If the author has a particular bias, it may become obvious right away. This will save you time in analyzing the information later.

There are often many features found at the end of a book or on-line article. It’s wise to check those out even before you begin reading the main parts of information. You will discover important resources that will assist you in your learning as well as help you be selective with the parts of the article or book that would be most relevant to your purposes. If present, appendices are found in the back of a publication and usually contain helpful extra information such as detailed notes on some of the more important learnings, excerpts from referenced resources, charts and tables, as well as questions and activities intended to increase the reader’s understanding. If present, the Glossary can also be very useful with helping you understand the material you are reading. Found at the back of the book as well, it works like a small dictionary, giving the meaning of words and explaining specifics about how the words are used in the context of the text. Next, if you are looking for specific facts and information, the Index is another useful feature found at the end of many books and large articles. Topics that are found in the text are often listed in an index in alphabetical order. If you want to find the page for a specific topic, look here first. If your purpose is only to get certain specific facts from a source, then there is no need to read through large sections of material.

One final feature found at the end of most books is the Bibliography or Reference section. These features will likely have a list of books or articles which let you know where the information contained in the book was found. While these sections will give you clues about the validity of the material, they will also provide good sources for further reading that are helpful if you need additional information for your report or presentation. By checking the dates on reference materials, you also have further clues as to how up to date the information is.

As mentioned earlier, when using print or on-line texts or encyclopedias, be prepared to start with a general search, then narrow it as you locate information in and around your topic. Once you have a firm grasp of the topic, you are free to expand your search in other media and other sources. Always be aware that the material you encounter may not be accurate. Sometimes it may even be purposely presented to mislead the reader! Also recognize that much of what is passed off as fact is actually opinion. As already pointed out, it is useful for you to know that in all non-fiction materials, even seemingly reputable sources such as your textbook, there may be elements of bias introduced by the manner of how some facts are presented, and the way other facts are left out. Bias is an intentional or unintentional presentation of facts and opinions that favour one point of view over another. Be a “critical reader” and always watch for evidence of bias. Follow the suggestions here and be wary of all information you encounter. Proceed in your research with thoughtful caution!


Only use true information to expand your learning.

This process involves using some probing questions as filters when conducting ‘background checks’ on information encountered. Make an effort to determine how likely it is that the information is true. Check by seeking answers to the following questions: 1.Where did the information originate? Does the source seem reliable, or are there some “alarm bells” that go off, indicating potential concerns? Be especially wary if there is no reference at all to where the information originated. That may be an indication that it is only someone’s opinion, and not based in fact at all. 2.What type of analysis or research methods have been used to reach the conclusions expressed? Does it “make sense” and appear logical, or does it appear to use some faulty logic? 3.How is the information shared? Is the material shared in a format and via a source that you recognize as reliable because of your past experience, or is it presented in a way that causes you to question its truthfulness? 4.What is the credibility and bias of the writer/speaker/organization delivering the message? Do they have a track record of being truthful, or have there been incidents where they have relayed false information and unsupported opinions in the past? 5.What is the credibility and bias of the people/organizations that express support for the message? Similar to the last question, do these people have a track record of supporting truth, or have there been incidents where they have supported and passed on false information and unsupported opinions in the past?

The purpose of your information analysis is to arrive at one of five numbers, or a likely range, on the true/false scale. By considering the answers to the above questions, you can choose one of the following numbers from the True/False (Believability) Scale: 5 - Probably True; 4 - Possibly True; 3 - Unable to Determine; 2 - Possibly False; 1 - Probably False.

The use of a scale like this allows you to be a little more exacting as you decide whether you would ‘believe’ the information presented, or not. The scale numbers can also be useful when comparing information from different sources. A key factor in believing information presented is the completeness of facts and data that are provided. If there are no verifiable facts supplied, recognize that the information may just be an opinion expressed and not be based in fact at all. Be aware that it can be extremely difficult to say that something is either completely true, or completely false, with absolute certainty. For that reason, the most extreme rating on this scale is “probably”, for true and for false! It should also be noted that there will likely be several determinations made for the same article. One would be for the work the authors did on delivering the information. The other(s) would be for the validity of the actual information dealt with. If the results are in the “False” range, it is not recommended that you use the source for your projects. You should also not share articles with this rating on social media or elsewhere on the internet. Doing this just spreads the misinformation more widely. People without the knowledge and strategies to determine how accurate a piece of information is, may assume it is true because many people have shared it!


Let’s assume that you are doing an assignment on this topic: “Do Extraterrestrials Exist?” You do a search and end up with a list comprising dozens of articles. Skimming through them you begin to wonder how likely it is that certain pieces of information are true. You decide to analyze a few using the questions and scale that have been set up in part 3 of this “Q” section. You start with the following article. Please note that the comments and analysis are provided in italics. The link supplied will take you to the internet copy of the story.


“Former Israeli space security chief says extraterrestrials exist, and Trump knows about it.” Suliman, Adela and Paul Goldman. NBCNews.com, Dec 8, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weird-news/former-israeli-space-security-chief-says-extraterrestrials-exist-trump-knows-n1250333

• Author and organization credits, along with the date of posting lend credibility to the reporting.

A “galactic federation” has been waiting for humans to “reach a stage where we will understand... what space and spaceships are,” Haim Eshed said. A former Israeli space security chief has sent eyebrows shooting heavenward by saying that earthlings have been in contact with extraterrestrials from a “galactic federation.”“The Unidentified Flying Objects have asked not to publish that they are here, humanity is not ready yet,” Haim Eshed, former head of Israel's Defense Ministry's space directorate, told Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper. The interview in Hebrew ran on Friday, and gained traction after parts were published in English by the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

• The origin of the story is explained for us. A hugely spectacular claim made in an interview with one newspaper, then picked up by another, before finally being reported by NBC. This certainly gets our attention! It should be noted that the original interview was in Hebrew, so it is possible that there were some misinterpretations made when the language was translated to English.

A respected professor and retired general, Eshed said the aliens were equally curious about humanity and were seeking to understand “the fabric of the universe.” Eshed said cooperation agreements had been signed between species, including an “underground base in the depths of Mars” where there are American astronauts and alien representatives.

• Wow, spectacular! Are there any facts to prove this?

“There is an agreement between the U.S. government and the aliens. They signed a contract with us to do experiments here,” he said. Eshed added that President Donald Trump was aware of the extraterrestrials’ existence and had been “on the verge of revealing” information but was asked not to in order to prevent “mass hysteria.” “They have been waiting until today for humanity to develop and reach a stage where we will understand, in general, what space and spaceships are,” Eshed said, referring to the galactic federation. The White House and Israeli officials did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Sue Gough, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, declined to comment.

• The journalists are being responsible here in reaching out for comments. It is an alarm bell that those folks contacted did not get back with comments. It signals that there “may” be problems with the accuracy of the information presented. While this could be just a time factor, it could also be that the organizations are trying to figure out a way of choosing their words carefully… either not wanting to lend credibility to an outlandish story, or not wanting to call the professor crazy. There is still the possibility that what he is saying is true and they are not sure how to respond now that the information has come out! As we continue to read, we are on the lookout for facts to back up the claims made.

A spokesperson for NASA said one of the agency's key goals was the search for life in the universe but that it had yet to find signs of extraterrestrial life. “Although we have yet to find signs of extraterrestrial life, NASA is exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

• Here we have a credible source that appears to dispute the ideas presented.

Eshed's ideas are spelled out in more detail in “The Universe Beyond the Horizon — conversations with Professor Haim Eshed” by Hagar Yanai published in November.

• Hints at a possible motive for giving such a startling interview… he has books to sell!

Eshed, who oversaw the launch of numerous Israeli satellites into space, said he was only speaking out now because attitudes were changing, and people seemed more receptive. “If I had come up with what I'm saying today five years ago, I would have been hospitalized,” he told Yediot. “Today, they're already talking differently. I have nothing to lose. I've received my degrees and awards; I am respected in universities abroad.”

• He is predicting that some will think him crazy. He says he has nothing to lose. He says that he is respected… should that now read “was respected?”

In May, Trump said, “Space is going to be the future, both in terms of defense and offense ... we're now the leader on space,” as he was presented with the official flag of a newly created military branch, Space Force. Its focus, along with a Space Command, is on space as a military domain for the U.S., preserving satellites and communications and a focus on geo-politics in new terrain. Eshed's comments immediately spawned jokes and theories online. At least half-a-dozen accounts have been created on Twitter claiming to be representatives to earth from the “Galactic Federation.” Other users have asked for preferential treatment and meetings with the other-worldly group.

• When you see many people responding to an announcement by treating it as a joke, you would be wise to question its credibility. It could still be true, but it is getting less likely in the face of contrary comments and the lack of supporting facts.

Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFOs for the British Ministry of Defense, described Eshed’s remarks as “extraordinary.” “Either this is some sort of practical joke or publicity stunt to help sell his book, perhaps with something having been lost in translation, or someone in the know is breaking ranks,” he said.

• Pope confirms some of our thoughts so far. He also points us in the direction of the book, offering an economic motive for Eshed to make the claims he did. Pope does leave a slight opening for the comments to be actually true with his reference to Eshed as someone in the know.

Pope said the UFO and conspiracy theory community was excited but that questions remained including whether or not Eshed was speaking from direct personal knowledge and experience or whether he is repeating something he has been told. “There are still some missing pieces of the puzzle here,” he said.

• Hmm, still no facts presented… Highlights that this is just a passing on of information. Interesting to note that the authors and NBC don’t offer any evaluation or opinion of how accurate the information is.

Further Analysis/Comments Regarding the Example

• The reader is reminded that there are two separate issues when assessing an article where an author is sharing the views of one or more people. One is the credibility of the reporting and the second is the credibility of the person or persons quoted or interviewed.

• Adela Suliman and Paul Goldman, the authors, appear to have done an acceptable job of a balanced report. We consider the question of whether they did a truthful job of reporting what was said, not whether the subject contained true information. Their reporting of the information would likely be considered a “5”, Probably True.

• As for the information provided by Eshed, there are issues. He provides no supporting information or facts for some incredibly spectacular claims, and no one backs him up. There are no other sources that can be found to verify anything that Eshed is saying. The actual information would have to be rated a “1”, for Probably False.

• Overall, then, the information provided in this article should not be used in your research, unless your purpose is to document people’s opinions and unsupported beliefs.


Now for a second article that could shed a little more light on the information that was presented in the last article. This material refers to the same set of initial facts but then goes on to analyze and comment much more than the first article. Check out the article and try determining truthfulness as you read through it. Are there facts that you can use in your research, or is it mainly opinions? Some excerpts are provided. The entire article can be found with the following link.

“Why do smart people lie about alien encounters?” Rozsa, Matthew and Keith A. Spencer. Salon.com, Dec 10, 2020. https://www.salon.com/2020/12/10/why-do-smart-people-lie-about-alien-encounters/

Some excerpts are provided here:

Every year, thousands of stories of supposed alien abduction or interstellar communication emerge from citizens around the world, though just about all of them are dismissed by the scientific community outright for lack of evidence. Yet while most stories of alien abduction emerge from those who are either mentally ill or desirous of attention in some regard, occasionally someone with political clout makes such claims — as the former head of an Israeli space agency did last week when he announced that human beings have made direct contact with extraterrestrials.

An attention-hungry loner or a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic person reporting alien sightings is common enough as to not be newsworthy. That is because the public does not expect this type of person to be credible, and such people generally don't provide evidence that would make their claims so.

But what about when someone with political power, influence and credibility makes such obviously bogus claims? “Without further information, it is impossible to know what psychological factors might underlie these claims from Haim Eshed,” Christopher C. French, a British psychologist who specializes in the psychology behind people claiming to believe in or have experienced the paranormal, wrote to Salon. French noted that he could be telling the truth, although “given the outlandish nature of his claims and the lack of any direct evidence to support them” French agreed it was “extremely unlikely.”

A more likely possibility is that Eshed genuinely believes what he is saying despite it being false, in which case French says he would want to know the reasons. “Has he seen any actual evidence or is he basing his claims on reports from others? If the former, is the evidence convincing? If the latter, are these others credible? What are they basing their claims upon? Is it possible that Eshed is delusional? This is certainly a possibility.”

Finally, it is possible that Eshed and his ilk are deliberately lying; certainly, he has a financial incentive to do so, as he is promoting a book about UFOs. “He has already garnered much attention by his claims,” French mused.

“Mr. Eshed's background as a space security official serves as a reminder that outlandish views are not limited to uneducated people,” Glenn C. Altschuler, a historian at Cornell University who regularly contributes to Psychology Today, told Salon by email. Altschuler also argued that belief in UFOs can be viewed in the broader context of people interpreting reality in different ways based on influences including those of parents, peers, and charismatic figures. He added, “We know as well that when presented with evidence that seems to debunk their beliefs or conspiracy theories, they often hug them ever more tightly, exhibiting what psychologists call cognitive dissonance.”

French made a similar point, noting that Eshed's unsubstantiated claims are part of a larger phenomenon that can lead to misinformation being taken seriously by large sections of the public. He added, “If Eshed has any solid proof to support his claims, he should tell the world what it is. Until he does so, we should feel no more obliged to believe him than we would any other conspiracy theorist.”

• You can see from the title that the authors appear to have made up their minds about the information provided by people in the article. It may also be serving the purpose of getting attention, in the hopes that people will take the time to read the article. The experts referenced offer what appears to be a balanced and comprehensive list of reasons to explain why a person would promote an unsubstantiated claim. The question remains as to whether we will be directed to actual facts to support the claims.

Analysis/Comments Regarding the Second Example:

There is no confirmation provided for Eshed’s original claim. So, the likelihood of Eshed’s claims being true remains a “1”, likely false. The article goes on to list the possible motives for providing this type of information. The authors point out that most stories of this type are provided by “those who are either mentally ill or desirous of attention in some way,” They note that there are further issues when it is someone with political clout or a background that would give them some credibility. It’s that category that the authors address. Many possibilities are provided, including deliberate attempts to deceive or actual states of mind where people are convinced that they are speaking something that is true. If your purpose is in outlining general categories of opinions and reasons why certain claims are made, the authors do a reasonable job of exploring that. Their presentation could be rated a “5” for Probably True.


Finally, here is another article on the same general topic. You may wish to check this one out, and practice making some determinations regarding truth. Some excerpts are provided, and the entire article can be found at the following link.

“Have We Already Been Visited by Aliens?”Kolbert, Elizabeth. NewYorker.com, Jan 18, 2021.https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/have-we-already-been-visited-by-aliens/amp

Some excerpts are provided here:

On October 19, 2017, a Canadian astronomer named Robert Weryk was reviewing images captured by a telescope known as Pan-starrs1 when he noticed something strange. The telescope is situated atop Haleakalā, a ten-thousand-foot volcanic peak on the island of Maui, and it scans the sky each night, recording the results with the world’s highest-definition camera. It’s designed to hunt for “near-Earth objects,” which are mostly asteroids whose paths bring them into our planet’s astronomical neighborhood, and which travel at an average velocity of some forty thousand miles an hour. The dot of light that caught Weryk’s attention was moving more than four times that speed, at almost two hundred thousand miles per hour.

It was dubbed ‘Oumuamua’ (pronounced ‘oh-mooah-mooah’), from the Hawaiian, meaning, roughly, ‘scout.’ As astronomers pored over the data, they excluded one theory after another. By far the most spectacular account of 1I/2017 U1 came from Avi Loeb, a Harvard astrophysicist. ‘Oumuamua’ didn’t behave as an interstellar object would be expected to, Loeb argued, because it wasn’t one. It was the handiwork of an alien civilization. “In contemplating the possibility of an artificial origin, we should keep in mind what Sherlock Holmes said: ‘when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,’” Loeb wrote in a blog post for Scientific American.

“No, ‘Oumuamua’ is not an alien spaceship, and the authors of the paper insult honest scientific inquiry to even suggest it,” Paul M. Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, wrote. Loeb has now dispensed with the scientific notation and has written “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The astronomical establishment may wish to silence him, but it can’t explain why ‘Oumuamua’ strayed from the expected path. Thus, Loeb writes, “Oumuamua’ must have been designed, built, and launched by an extraterrestrial intelligence.”

Ellen Stofan, who at the time was NASA’s chief scientist and is now the director of the National Air and Space Museum, said that she believed “definitive evidence” of “life beyond earth” would be found sometime in the next two decades. “It’s definitely not an if, it’s a when,” Jeffrey Newmark, a NASA astrophysicist said. “If we acknowledge that ‘Oumuamua’ is plausibly of extraterrestrial-technology origin,” Laub writes, “whole new vistas of exploration for evidence and discovery open before us.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for “The Sixth Extinction.” Her latest book is “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.”

• The reporting of these claims appears to be quite balanced and believable. Evidence is provided for the claims and there are experts who agree and experts who don’t agree. Credibility of the article is helped by the credentials of the author, Elizabeth Kolbert, who is an award-winning journalist.

Analysis/Comments regarding the Example:

The information as a whole appears able to be relied on. The reporting by the author could be considered a “5” for Probably True. The claims themselves about the object observed would range from “3” Unable to Determine, towards “4” possibly true, depending on further research.

For each of the individual parts of QUICK, there will be checklists provided. They can be skimmed immediately to determine how complete your understanding is of the concepts and strategies proposed. They can also be revisited periodically to determine progress made in your understanding and use of all strategies. All the checklists for QUICK are also reprinted in section B.6 of these appendices, for your convenience.

There are 13 items for Q: QUESTION SOURCES. Make notes as you respond to the checklist items in the following way: “Y” for Yes, fully in place; “S” for Somewhat on track, with some room still for improvement; and “N” for No, not yet. This is something that still needs to be accomplished. If you are not responding on a paper checklist, you will only need to make notes for the items you would respond to with an “S” or “N”.

(1) ___ I always consider how accurate and truthful my information sources are. (2) ___ When researching a topic, I always begin with information that is more likely to be true, like a textbook. (3) ___I usually use encyclopedia sources that have a good reputation for accuracy, either printed, or on-line. (4) ___After I have an overall understanding of my topic, I do a wider search for other information sources. (5) ___ I use all "text" features (pictures, italicized words, headings, etc.) to help me understand the information. (6) ___ I locate and use the "Title Page" and "Copyright Page" in my materials, checking when the information was written and by who. (7) ___ I locate and use the "Table of Contents" in my book materials. (8) ___ I locate and use the "Preface" and/or the "Introduction" in my book materials. (9) ___ I locate and use the "Appendices" in my book materials. (10) ___ I locate and use the "Glossary" in my book materials. (11) ___ I locate and use the "Bibliography or Reference Sections" in my book materials. (12) ___ I locate and use the "Index" in my book materials. (13) ___ I am always aware that the material I encounter may not be truthful and may indeed be purposely presented to mislead me.