Information Fluency Group
Understanding how technology can be used, and misused, is key to being a literate person. With the flood of information that washes over us each day, a literate person must have the skills necessary to recognize falsehoods and truth manipulation, corroborate information to confirm validity, seek primary and secondary sources of valid information, and general exercise good critical thinking, reading and listening.
Project: Applications of Science Satire
Purpose: Explore the use of science satire as a technology for teaching information fluency skills
Researchers: Tom Way
Applications: General information literacy and fluency, understanding the Internet, science education, science entertainment
This research focuses on the various truth manipulation techniques used by information providers in all realms of communication. The nightly news, religious extremists, politicians, radio talk-show hosts, and "experts" in all fields routinely manipulate the facts to prove their own point. It is quite clear that a person can prove just about anything by carefully crafted use of cherry-picked pieces of the truth. Without ever "lying," a particular point can be proven!
We are conducting on ongoing study, started in 1997, which explores the various techniques for manipulating facts, using a science satire web site, and using the resulting satire as an educational tool to teach critical thinking and reading skills. The web site for the Dihydrogen Monoxide Organization, located at www.dhmo.org, is used internationally by teachers, librarians and others to teach critical reading and thinking skills. The goal of the research is to provide a resource that fosters such learning, and do so in a way that demystifies science in some way, entertains the reader, and serves as a reminder of how important it is to be a cautious information consumer, particularly on the Internet. As media critic and thinker Marshall McLuhan wisely observed, "The medium is the message." Never before in the history of civilization has it been more important to fundamental literacy than it is now to understand the technology of information delivery. Armed with this understanding, only then is a person fully equipped to sort fact from fiction, truth from falsehood.
This research involves continued management of the DHMO.org web site, and development of an information literacy outreach program involving speaking engagements on DHMO and information literacy to groups and schools, creation of teaching materials for teachers and librarian, and extension of the approaches used in the DHMO.org web site into other related web sites.