Saturday, September 02, 2006

Not Worth its Salt

I think the information explosion has created noise to the extent that people get trigger-happy, which can be detrimental.

--Maria Bartiromo

Of of my ambitions is to provide the CF community at large with viable, accurate information. Whenever possible I consult print-media in the form of scientific journals and news articles. Like many others I also make use of online resources since those are readily available thanks to powerful search engines. However, not every source on the web is a credible one.

A recent search for the key words "cystic fibrosis" using Blogger's search tool pointed me toward the following website: You will note that I am not providing a hyperlink to this particular site. The site's disclaimer says that it does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained therein. The website contains links to information such as "cystic fibrosis", "cystic fibrosis symptoms", "causes of cystic fibrosis" and "cystic fibrosis treatments". Each of these pages regurgitates the same summary descriptions about CF, and those descriptions, although not wholly without merit, are sorely lacking. I was able to find contact information about the site, but no credentials that would lead me to believe that it is a credible source.

Sadly, sites that this are everywhere. In my opinion, such sites breed ignorance. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognizes the problem and has put out a consumer fact sheet outlining some basic principles that should be taken to heart when combing the internet looking for medical information. Here are the main points to consider according to the fact sheet:

Source : "Guide to 'Healthy' Web Surfing (c) 2005 CFF

What is the extent of my credibility with this site? I am a patient with CF, therefore I have a vested interest in obtaining accurate information about medical topics. I am also a member of the scientific community. I have a degree in environmental science and have been involved as a researcher in different types of air quality projects. This combination of education, professional and personal experience makes me uniquely qualified to address certain topics. As a scientist I am bound to uphold the principles of academic integrity. Finally, and here's my disclaimer, this site is mostly a personal one. My opinion, the information I link at this site, and any comments provided by others are in no way meant to substitute the advice of your own team of medical professionals.

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