In a time when evidence based information is questioned, it is imperative that we teach our students how to recognize whether a source is valid or not. The STINK Test gives them the tools to do just that.
The world is full of information, but not all of it is accurate, useful or valid. It’s important to know that people want to convince you, get you to agree with their opinions, rely on their data, and accept them as experts. By practicing the elements of the STINK Test, students will build both background knowledge as well as the skills necessary to be a discerning consumer of information.
When scientists write papers based on their research, they work hard to present evidence without personal bias. They do this by focusing on measureable results and where that evidence leads them. Critical readers need to be able to recognize an author’s bias, prejudice and purpose. Some obvious examples might be:
- use of inflammatory language
- an author that consistently makes claims not supported by the evidence
- an author who consciously ignores information that might suggest a different conclusion
- an author who manufactures or dishonestly cites evidence to shed a more positive light
It is tempting to accept whatever information is found, especially if it agrees with pre-conceived ideas, but learning to evaluate sources is an important skill both for school projects and for life-long learning.