A group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.
But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. More often than not, those kids went for the bait and also used the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Pan grimly concluded that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit—they’re putting too much trust in the machine.
This reminds me of my parents generation who - if another blatant generalization is allowed - might think everything that has been seen fit to print in a newspaper must be true. Thank goodness for the X-Files teaching me not to trust anything.