Whom to blame - the source of information or myself?. Personal epistemology and personal ability in dealing with medical information on the Internet
Wissensprozesse und digitale Medien, Bd. 15
233 pages, year of publication: 2010
price: 37.50 €
Modern information technologies, especially the Internet, offer convenient access to an unprecedented amount of science-based information. The information accessed on the Internet might be controversially discussed or conflicting. Such internal controversy and uncertainty is a normal feature of scientific knowledge, but is in sharp contrast to the public expectation of science. The exposure to controversial scientific evidence puts heavy demands on its recipients, as they have to find an explanation for the contradictions they experience. This book distinguishes and empirically investigates two key explanations for contradictions: information recipients can conclude from occurring inconsistencies that knowledge about the topic is in itself inconsistent, developing or uncertain (an aspect of personal epistemology), or the can assign such inconsistencies to their lack of ability to understand the information or to integrate the different information bits (an aspect of personal ability). The five empirical studies reported particularly address the question of whether dealing with information on the Internet influences aspects of personal epistemology and aspects of personal ability, and they especially consider whether the information dealt with is conflicting or not. The studies address the search for medical information on the treatment and causes of high cholesterol, a prototypical example for laypersons' problem-specific Internet search.