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All information is suspect

The big lesson of our wikipedia-era is not that amateur information is potentially false, but rather that all information must be questioned. The last week as produced one of those lessons that information literacy educators will be using a case studies for years: Elsevier admits to producing a fake journal that looked like it was peer reviewed, but was sponsored by Merck. And then, only a few days later, it’s revealed that Elsevier published at least six journals in a similar “sponsored by” method.
The somewhat arrogant attitudes of journal editors and publishers is called into question in media environments where transparency is sought. What happens to the authority of journals when everyone is (can be) an information producer? Is all information eventually equal? What/who will be the mediators of quality? Instead of hierarchy, in an ideal world, quality is determined (vetted) by a network of experts and amateurs alike. Journals will likely continue to exist for a while, at least. But fields like education, engineering, medicine, etc. no longer need their mediative role. We can mediate our own resources in our own networks.

One Comment

  1. biisuto wrote:

    this case highlights the often overlooked fact that anything you don’t witness yourself is hearsay anyway. The obvious corollary need to question everything is in fact a good thing: all so-called “facts” should be questioned- and rigorously.

    Will it create the most amazing bottlenecks in history? Absolutely. Will it stop people manufacturing BS? Not at all. Will it make us all accountable for anything we trot out as “fact” Yes, it will. And therein lies the hidden power of pulling the truth out from under the carpet, where it has laid conveniently buried for too long!

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink