In our last posting we talked about six techniques to make our questions more precise so as to get the best answers from the Web. In this blog, we look at the other side of the equation: how can we be reasonably confident that the answers we get from an online resource are correct? How can we know that the web has given us the right answer when we do not have the subject matter expertise ourselves?
Path to “Confucian” wisdom
How to know what you don’t know
The adage “True wisdom is knowing what you don't know” has been attributed to Confucius. While addressing this philosophical statement is beyond the scope of this blog, it is appropriate to title a pragmatic article borrowing from ancient wisdom. Knowing what you do not know is the essential problem of learning in the modern era. Legacy learning depends on teachers and textbooks who you can rely on to be correct. However, for contemporary learning - how can you tell the correct from the incorrect if you don’t have sufficient knowledge of a domain?
We describe a four step process one can use to eliminate the really bad answers and get a decent idea of which ones are very good.
The process may not be able guarantee the answers we got are absolutely correct, but the level of accuracy of the answers we will get by following the process will be useful in most cases.