Fact or fiction: Hoax or not?

Learn to be a smart consumer when finding information on the internet.

We’ve all seen them, incredible stories passed through email that seem very believable; a recent email story appeared in my email a few days ago, citing how using raw egg whites on a burn was a miracle cure! However, a few minutes later, I received another email telling me to disregard the egg white story as putting raw egg whites on a burn could be dangerous because there could be salmonella in the egg whites. We see similar stories and information on Facebook, Pinterest, other social media channels and in emails from friends and family. It leaves you wondering what to believe.

Here are some suggestions for sorting out the facts from the fiction. In particular, if the information concerns foods, food safety or nutrition, look for the facts at reputable sources such as university websites, university Extension websites, U.S. government websites (such as the United State Department of Agriculture, USDA) or the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Other examples of reputable sources of information include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or Mayo Clinic or the Michigan State University Extension website.

Additional ways to sort the fact from the fiction or to determine when something is an internet hoax include: Has the information been verified by a number of scientific research studies? Are there large studies using scientific methods such as double blind studies to back up claims? Has the information been published in scientific journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association? Does the person or internet site stand to gain financially from consumers using a certain product or diet? Can you check with your doctor or a registered dietitian?

Be a skeptical consumer of information. It’s common sense to question the validity of some information you find on the internet. Find your favorite sources of reputable information and then use them when you come across information from unknown sources.

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