You are your own gatekeeper (aka how to avoid GIGO)

So today a good friend of mine got the kind of news from her doctor that really puts things into perspective. It makes me feel like, what I have going on is pretty minor. Yeah, I can’t eat a normal sandwich, so what!? That’s nothing. I have to be extra careful when I eat and read a label. That is all things that are within my control. She’s seriously been kind of the best voice of reason over the last year, and made me laugh at myself more often than not, so I am going to give her exactly what she gave me when I got my life changing diagnosis, because right now the advice is all the same, “so now what?”

Literally, that’s what she said to me. “Okay, now we know what’s going on, so what’s next?” Well, whenever your doctor tells you anything there’s only ever one what’s next, and it’s a he exact opposite of what you feel should be the right answer. We live in a world where all the information that we ever want to know about is right at our fingers. We have Google and Wikipedia and Web MD. We have millions of people writing blogs about whatever they want. We have Food Babe and Jenny McCarthy and Goop. We have all of these things, but nothing takes the place of the best thing that we have. Our doctors.

Yup, when all is said and done, you can go out and read a million articles about whatever diagnosis you have. You can go to forums and message boards and discuss with people every nuance of everything. You can read testimonials and live chat with whomever you want, but do you really know where that information came from? That’s the thing about Dr. Google, he is open source. He pulls from everywhere and doesn’t really vet where his information comes from. Literally, Dr. Google is a GIGO (garbage in, garbage out.) He’s nothing more than a computer program who pulls from the most linked resources. If millions of news articles are linking to a Food Babe post, well Google is going to pull up that post from Food Babe and your number one search result, for the good or the bad.

GIGO is a computer programming term for what my Communication Study professors called Gate Keeping. If you’re only putting garbage information into a program, it’s only going to put garbage out. Since Google was still a computer program last time I checked, if everyone says the crap is the best links out there, Google is going to bring back the crap. It can’t differentiate the good from the bad. The best example of this is Dan Savage’s war against Rick Santorum. If you don’t know anything about it…Google it. You’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

So, how does one make this computer program give you the best information? Well, you don’t. Not unless you’re Stephen Colbert or Dan Savage and have an entire army of followers. No, us lowly peons cannot control the Google. We have to do it manually. Yup, I know effort. But that’s called Gate Keeping.

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The Oz Gatekeeper gets it.

See, you can watch Fox news and take all of those stories about Barack Obama being a secret Muslim as truth. But hopefully, if you’re reading this you’re not that stupid, you don’t believe that. You should be checking and seeing where that information comes from. If they’re a reputable source, they’ll tell you where they got their information from. And if that person is reputable, then you can trace the breadcrumbs back to an honest to goodness fact based study or credible source. If whatever you hear traces back to a non-credible source, or something that is opinion based, then move along. It’s not worth your time. But if there’s education behind it or something else that you can verify, you know that what you’re reading is the truth. That is what Gate Keeping is all about, and that is exactly why you can’t really trust Dr. Google.

If you want to do research, just make sure that you know where the facts came from. If you can search it out and find the study or the science behind it. Make sure that the science behind it is repeatable, and that is has been peer reviewed. Find out who is doing the study and how credible the group is. Check out the credentials of the person that you listening to. And above all else, make sure that you don’t have garbage going in. Garbage only makes you crazy.

So, friend, if you read this, take a piece of advice from me to you. What happens next is, you wait. Talk to your doctor. Do some research to know what questions to ask, but make sure you don’t read garbage. Garbage will only make you crazy. When you see your Doctor, ask questions. Find out where you get the best information, but trust in what they say.

Any why should you listen to me? Well,  I did go to school and study communication along with writing. I did go through all of this and make all of the mistakes that I’m saying not to. But mostly because, I’m going to give you all of the citations for my information!

Post Bibliography:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_in,_garbage_out

http://communicationtheory.org/gatekeeping-theory/

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/04/364745790/food-babe-or-fear-babe-as-activist-s-profile-grows-so-do-her-critics

http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/how-much-can-you-actually-7012479

Now, take your new found skills in Gate Keeping and seek knowledge knowing that the stuff that you find will be the good stuff.

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