Thursday, December 01, 2011

Places Where Bigfoot Might be Hiding: The Internet

Because apparently it is a poorly explored place.

Bigfoot blog finds amazing article on translation of ancient texts discussing 10th century communication between Chinese Imperial scholars and Yeti.

Blog post actually links to the original source

But apparently, this, and the name of the author (Tim Pulju) was not sufficient to show that the source is in fact, a satirical publication, a The Onion for linguistics.

I mean, that would require looking to the fourth-down return if you google "Tim Pulju"

To be fair, many of the comments on that blog post guess that it is likely satire but others suggested it could be a real journal article,or some sort of misunderstanding. While I approve that some were able to recognize the satire, that no one even bothered to take 15 seconds and actually find out, is the real problem. You don't even need to type if that is too much effort, just copy and paste and click.

I have heard professors say they don't like their students to use internet sources for their work. I think this is an excellent example of why they should be using the internet, under the guidance and training of a professional researcher (as any professor is).

In my classes, especially my introductory classes, I have decided to do two things in addition to the standard curriculum of whatever the class is.

1.) If at all applicable, address pseudoscience and mysticism that routinely gets associated with anthropology and archaeology (the subjects I teach). They are so intertwined in the popular imagination, it seems like we have a professional obligation to hit this stuff head-on, not ignore it and hope it goes away. That didn't work for evolutionary biology, it won't work for us.

2.) Have my students use the internet to look things up, especially early on in the class, and to critique how they found information, identify warning signs a site is not reliable, and suggest productive alternative strategies and practices.