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ANTH 230 (Introduction to Economic Anthropology) Course Guide: Evaluating Sources

This guide is intended for students taking Anthropology 230 with Larry van der Est.

Fake Information, Real Consequence

False, fake or misleading information can have serious real-life consequences.

In November 2016, misleading news sites reported a conspiracy theory that Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington was operating a child sex ring in its basement with help from the Democratic Party. The conspiracy theory was false, and the pizza place did not even have a basement. Though many legitimate news sites reported that the story was false, some adhered to the conspiracy theory, including a gunman who entered and fired shots inside the restaurant claiming he wanted to "self-investigate" the story. 

Luckily, no one was hurt, but stories like these show the importance of thinking critically and evaluating sources of information. 

From Headline to Photograph, a Fake News Masterpiece that true?

Verifying information you find through social media or Google requires a bit of detective work, especially if you don't know much about the topic. The sites below can help you check the accuracy of the information you find online. 

Credible Sources

The table below is intended to help you determine whether the source you are using is appropriate to use for an assignment. The table is intended as a guide. There may be appropriate sources that do not fall under the "appropriate sources" category, and even sources written by experts are open to criticism. 

Appropriate Sources

Inappropriate Sources

Articles in academic journals by authors who are experts in their field

Posts by non-experts on Facebook, Twitter, yahoo! Answers, forum posts, and other self-authored sites

Books by authors with appropriate credentials, or that are published by academic presses (UBC Press) 

Articles that claim to be based on research but provide no citations

Websites from well-known institutions, education institutions and governments. Do a Google search or check Wikipedia to see if an author, publisher, website or institution is associated with controversies that would call their reputation into question.

Sources that use misleading headlines. Read beyond the headline to make sure content is represented accurately. 

Evaluating Sources

Once you've found books, articles and websites, you will need to make sure your sources are reliable and relevant to your topic.

You can do this by using the CRAAP test, described in the video below, to evaluate your sources.

Western University. (2012, Jan 13). Evaluating Sources. [Video file]. Retrieved from

How to Choose Your News

With so many news sources available today, it's hard to decide which news sources to trust. In the video below, Damon Brown explains how news is produced and how readers can tell opinions from facts and non-facts. 

Brown, D [TED-Ed]. (2014, June 5). How to choose your news - Damon Brown. [Video file]. Retrieved from