Is it Legit Activity – Paleo Diet Directions: A goal of this course is learn how to evaluate a scientific paper or web site without extensive training in the relevant scientific field(s). In this activity, you will be examining a source and deciding where it fits in the following six categories: Valid: Most scientists would agree with the thesis, data, and conclusions drawn in the paper or website. Speculation: Most scientists would agree with the paper’s or website’s thesis, but the thesis statement lacks strong experimental evidence. An example of this would be wormholes in spacetime: they are predicted by well established theory, but have never been experimentally observed. Controversial: This category refers to scientific, not social controversy. More than one scientific theory exists to explain the evidence. There is usually a lack of consensus within the scientific community on the subject. Uninformed: The author or website creator is often not an expert in the field and is reporting only part of a larger story. The omissions in the information provided are usually due to ignorance, rather than malicious intent. Many student research papers posted on the Internet fall under this category. Misrepresentation: The author may present a correct statement, but it is either taken out of context or misapplied. The author is often deliberately trying to mislead the reader by ignoring other important evidence not presented in the paper but well known in the field. Invalid: Most scientists would disagree with the paper’s thesis. Example: The Paleo Diet http://thepaleodiet.com/ THESIS (according to Loren Cordain PhD): The Paleo Diet is based upon every day, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. The following seven fundamental characteristics of hunter-gatherer diets will help to optimize your health, minimize your risk of chronic disease, and lose weight. Higher protein intake Lower carbohydrate intake and lower glycemic index Higher fiber intake Moderate to higher fat intake dominated by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats Higher potassium and lower sodium intake Net dietary alkaline load that balances dietary acid Higher intake of, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals Overall Assessment Evaluate information sources and credentials Identify who created the source, including their name and affiliations with any universities, companies, websites, etc. Determine any credentials held by the person(s) creating the source. Remember, just because someone has credentials doesn’t mean they’re using them! Determine which of the six classes (from the “Is it Legit” info sheet) this thesis belongs in (this may be your final step, but please list it first on your assignment). Describe how you made your overall evaluation of the thesis. Internet Searching Identify two or three keywords (or key phrases) from the thesis. You want the keywords to represent the major concept or main ideas. If there are several major concepts you should need evaluate each concept separately. Search for each keyword or key phrase individually, using a search engine such as Google Scholar. Note the number of results for each. You can also search on websites where peer-review is one of the criteria for publishing a paper. If applicable or relevant, combine the keywords and see how many results your search returns. If they never or rarely appear together, the concept is unlikely to be one accepted by most scientists in the discipline. If most scientists agree about the concept then the keywords should appear together frequently. They will also appear together frequently if the concept has been evaluated and the concept is invalid. So you’ll have to do further evaluation if you generate a decent sized list. Provide the links you used to evaluate the thesis. Give a one sentence summary of the key info from the site. Identify whether it is a site that uses peer review, or any information that you feel is relevant to its credibility. Perform an overall evaluation-does the site seem legitimate? Illegitimate? Not sure You will need to evaluate a minimum of five sites. Evaluate the general quality/relevance of the results returned by the search. Do the identified sites simply lead back to one source? This means the original source is likely one of the few supporting the thesis. Do the search results support or negate the original source? You will likely need to look through several pages of search results to determine the answer to these questions.
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