Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Information You Can't Trust

I couldn't resist this one.

According to news sources, army troops from Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica this week. Apparently that part is true. What is interesting, in terms of information literacy, is that they did so based on inaccurate information published by Google maps.

It's a challenge to find real-life examples of what happens when information is accepted at face value. I'd say this story qualifies. Would Nicaragua have crossed into Costa Rica had the map not been mis-drawn? Maybe not, although it sounds like Nicaragua took advantage of the situation, which they thought was in their best interest.

Other examples of information literacy faux pas are not impossible to find. I think a collection of such examples would help those who work with students to make the point that accepting information at face value can have ugly or embarrassing consequences: not always an international incident, but financial loss (recall the United stock debacle) or a missed assignment (see the story of Calamity Jane Austin).

I'd love to hear examples you've collected.


Anonymous said...

Ironically you haven't listed the references to your anecdote;so how can we trust you?!

Carl Heine said...

You have a point. In my blogs I tend to cite sources with links to the original rather than use MLA citation style (which seems un-blogger-like). The link to the original story is found in the first paragraph. Here's the url: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/google-maps-error-blamed-for-nicaraguan-invasion/