There is no shortage of information today. Everywhere you turn. Much of it free.
Open up your browser, and you’ll find a wealth of:
- Articles across blogs
- Special reports
- Social media posts
- Presentations on slide share
- Audio Books
- Kindle books
- And much more
And it shouldn’t surprise us…
Today, virtually everyone has the means to publish information online. People are free to write, express their ideas, and share information.
According to “Tek Eye” there were 1,805,260,010 websites in the world as of January 2018. That is a staggering 1.8 billion websites!
Publishing information, while easy today, was much more difficult in the past.
It took a long time, deep pockets, and going through established channels to get information published, mostly in the form of a book.
Not today! You can write or record something, hit “Enter,” and you’re published!
How Do You Know?
While that’s all fine and good, there is a fundamental problem here. You see, there is a fair amount of misleading and outright false information published online today!
So how do you know if the information you come across is correct and can be trusted?
And I’m not talking about politics here; that’s another story for another time!
I’m referring to information like:
- How to grow tomatoes
- How to reverse diabetes naturally
- How to lower blood pressure
- How to learn Spanish
- How to start a business
In some cases, following online information is inconsequential… for the most part.
Let’s say you decide to grow tomatoes following someone’s advice. After it’s all said and done, you end up with a miserable crop, hardly any tomatoes at all.
While you’re out a small investment of time and money for plants, dirt, and other necessary items, you didn’t sustain damage to your health, finances, or wellbeing. Rather inconsequential!
Now let’s compare that to lowering blood pressure. You follow someone’s advice, but it’s not working for you. Your blood pressure is higher now than it was before, which has consequences.
Now in all fairness, the reason it didn’t work for you might be the result of:
- Not following the advice
- Following the advice only partially
- Following information inappropriate for you
- Following explicit wrong advice
Not Without Consequences
While some advice may be inconsequential, when it comes to health, finance, and topics like business, there are consequences when following misleading or wrong information.
Let me give you an example…
Imagine you’re on social media. You come across a post from an NP asking “What legal structure would be best for my new practice?”
Because deciding on the best legal structure for your practice is a complex subject; with many considerations to be taken into account.
But someone replies to the NPs questions with a simple: “Don’t worry about that when you get started, you can always do that later.”
While the response may have been made with the best of intentions, it’s bad advice!
Why? The person giving the advice has no idea about the particular situation of the NP who asked the question:
- What type of practice is she planning to start?
- How much money will she need to start the practice?
- Will she apply for a loan or self-fund?
- Is she planning to start the practice by herself or with a business partner?
- Will there be employees?
- What is her overall financial situation?
- Are there assets that need to be protected?
These are just some of the considerations to be addressed when choosing a legal structure for your practice.
Not everything you find online is accurate, factual, or trustworthy. So be careful who you listen to!
How To Spot Bad Advice?
The challenge is knowing if the information you come across is correct and can be trusted. And depending on your topic this could be of great importance.
Here are three tips to use when evaluating online information:
- Check more than one source, always. When you look at multiple sources, you’ll be able to spot intentionally wrong or outdated information. Additionally, you’ll gain a broader understanding of your topic.
- Take a closer look at the author and the site; are they legit? How long has the site been online? What are the author’s background and experience with the topic?
- Use common sense. If it sounds too outlandish, easy, or simplistic, it probably is. Use your common sense and filter the information online, just as you would do with any information you find offline.
It’s easy to forget…
Not everything published is true or accurate. There is misinformation published across many channels, including books, magazines, and newspapers.
Today, an additional source of misinformation is information published online. Unfortunately, online information may also contain outdated, wrong, or misleading information.
That’s why it’s essential to verify the information and advice you find online. Taking this extra step is even more critical if the opinion has the potential to affect your health, finances, or well being.
We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think by leaving your comment below.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“