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Validity Wizard
The words valor, valiant, and valid all come from the same Latin root, valere, meaning "strong" or "worthy." Whenever we write or speak to express an opinion or build an argument, we want to be sure that what we are communicating is valid - that is to say, "strong and worthy." This is a matter of professional and personal ethics as well as individual pride. One way to assure that our writing and speaking is valid is to use valid sources.

Validity assessment is always a difficult task. Determining the strength, worth, or truthfulness of information is a challenging and time consuming chore. Frequently we rely on others to make this determination of validity for us. For example, articles that appear in academic journals are subject to an extensive peer review process where they are carefully examined by well-reputed and established experts in a given field. Similarly, textbooks are reviewed, revised, and reviewed again by individuals who are demonstrated experts in their fields.

In the case of attempting to assess information on the Internet we are not so lucky. The information explosion, and the geometric growth of the Internet, means that we have more and more facts, figures, opinions, and thoughts at our fingertips by the moment. On one extreme, almost all unclassified US Government documents (including pending state and federal legislation) can be found on the Internet. On the other extreme, any individual, informed or not, well-balanced or not, well-meaning or not, can build and post a Web site for free utilizing a service such as Geocities, Homestead, or Angelfire. Some information on the Internet is good, some is bad, and some is very bad. Validity assessment, in such a scenario, requires asking and answering a variety of questions utilizing elements of critical thinking, investigating, and digging (leg-work).

This page is designed to aid you in assessing the validity of information you will find on the World Wide Web through the use of the Web Validity Wizard (VWiz). The VWiz will walk you through a variety of steps. You will be asked a series of questions, all of which you must respond to, even if the answer is "I don't know." There are a wide variety of questions, and sometimes the answers will require some effort. You might want to print out a copy of the questionnaire to consider before actually proceeding.


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