I wondered today about the origin of the term, “fired” (a.k.a. laid off). So I looked it up, and according to an online eytmology dictionary , it is a play on the word “discharge” which means both to dismiss from a job and to fire a gun. In my brief search of the Internet, I found a number of other more colorful theories and was reminded that nonsense information and rampant speculation spread like wildfire, but facts — not so much. For example, no matter how many times it shows up on a little known facts list, it is NOT true that a duck’s quack does not echo.
However, it apparently is true that bats always turn left when exiting a cave. This is a useful bit of information, if you’re like me and want to know which way the bats are going – so you can run screaming in the other direction. It’s hard to find a legitimate source for why bats do this, but I’ll subscribe to the explanation that it’s just an evolved instinct to avoid the colony ending up in a concussed heap at the mouth of the cave. (Also, in defense of the creatures, I learned that vampire bats adopt orphans. That’s nice.)
Finding legitimate sources on the web seems to be getting harder and harder. (Yes, I know my mind is wandering today. But I did include a disclaimer in my very first post that there wasn’t always going to be a point…) The Georgetown University library has a useful checklist to help evaluate the fact-worthiness of an Internet source: http://library.georgetown.edu/internet/eval.htm.
I think it would be useful to have a checklist for evaluating the bias vs. news factor as well — for any news, online, televised, or print. I’d like to see a system that encouraged a return to basic, informative journalism. (See previous posts…) For example, if it starts with “so and so says…”, it’s likely full of cherry-picked quotes, so it would have high bias value. If the article contains more than 3 words with strong connotations and poetic value, it’s low news value as well. But if an article is old school and answers the questions of who, what, when and where in the first paragraph and leaves why for the editorial page, then it should get the highest rating for news content. Other suggestions?