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Which sources of knowledge-books, websites, the media, personal experience, authorities or some other- do you most consider trustworthy, and why? Every day we process new pieces of information, and from this new information we try to find the truth, to do this we need trustworthy information. We get information from everywhere, we’re constantly being buffered by new knowledge, but what do we choose to be true and trustworthy? In the world today it is hard to be certain on anything, even own experiences, without having to rely on what you’ve read, seen, felt, been told etc.

One of our main sources of knowledge historically are books, without them how could we know about the past, the world, different languages, practically everything, even what we learn in this course is in a book. Without them we would only be able to learn from word of mouth, our own experiences and the Internet, but this itself has only been around about 20 years. Books have been around for hundreds of years, but this does not make them trustworthy.

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Books can often be biased, if you were to compare an American history book to an English one they would surely tell different stories of the war, an author can only write from their own perspective, from what they’ve seen, heard, read and this could give them a completely different spin on something compared to you. And yet even though we know these things one of the main ways we are taught is from books, we base a lot of our knowledge on the secondary knowledge we get from them.

We just have to trust them because unless our logic tells us otherwise how can we disprove the knowledge in a book. We trust books because we don’t have the time to experience all the things ourselves, we trust that the author of the book was an expert in the particular field, for example if we read a book on the structure of DNA, we must accept it because we have no easy way to find out for ourselves what this structure is and we assume that it was based on research and take it to be a fact that DNA is a double helix.

We tend to think of books as having a higher validity than the internet, this is probably because most factual books contain research and have probably been peer accessed so we agree with what the crowd says. We base a lot of our validity and trust on names, reputations and appearance, if a book looks professional, was written by someone with a doctors and has one awards we trust it almost without question, but if a book looks shabby, was written by a UFO fanatic and has been ridiculed in the media we disbelieve it.

As well as bias, appearance and credibility the age of a book also needs to be considered when looking to books for knowledge, older books could contain information that has been updated and is wrong. I consider books to be quite trustworthy but that depends upon the point above. Another source for our knowledge is the internet and websites, this is one of the fastest ways for us to find knowledge but it also the one to be most wary with.

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Kylie Garcia

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