Critical Thinking & Information Literacy
Across the Curriculum
Web Searches & Evaluating Web Sources
Philosophy 115 Assignment 4:
Students choose one of the following claims:
The majority of complaints that have been filed with the WTO have been decided in favor
of countries with more economic clout (U.S., Canada, Japan, and the European Union).
The financial cost of the death penalty is greater than the financial cost of
keeping one person in a maximum security prison for 40 years.
A disproportionate number of people living below the poverty line in the U.S. are African
American or Latino.
The rate of HIV infection in U.S. women is declining.
Marijuana is not a physically addictive substance.
The student uses that claim to complete the following exercise:
1. Write down a list of search terms relevant to your topic.
(Come up with as many as you can, as you may need to try more than one term/phrase
in conducting your search).
2. Conduct a search on a Web search engine. Some search engines you can use are:
In general, Yahoo is a good place to start. If you do not get the results you want by
using one search engine, try another. Be sure to keep track of the terms and phrases
you try. You may need to use Boolean operators such as “AND” to narrow your search.
3. Find TWO different web sites that provide evidence for or against your chosen
claim. Write down the Web address for each site, and briefly describe the information you found
that either supports or undermines the claim.
4. Evaluate each of the web sources that you found according to the following criteria:
(Adapted from criteria suggested on the CTILAC Web Page)
Authority of Source:
Whose web page is this? Does the page belong to a an organization, business, university?
Or, is it a government or personal web page?
Do you have any reason to think that the author of this page has any special expertise
in this area? What credentials have been given to indicate this? If the page belongs to
a business or organization, does the organization have a reputation for reliability?
Are the sources for factual information documented fully?
How comprehensive is the coverage of the issue?
Are the goals of the person(s) or organization(s) presenting this material clearly stated?
Does the person(s) or organization(s) presenting this material have any obvious motive to mislead or deceive?
Does the information presented try to persuade your opinion in some way? If so, how?
Who is the intended audience for this page?
How recent is the Web page?
When has the page last been updated?
Does the page appear to contain any old or outdated information?
Overall: Do you think either of the two Web sites are sources of good and reliable information
about the claim?
5. The web sites you chose to use should have provided you with some evidence for or
against the claim. Pick one of these pieces of evidence and see if you can find some
other source (a non-Web source) to see if you can verify the accuracy of that
information. Are you able to easily find the same information in another source?