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ASTR 203 - Stars (Fall 2018)

Evaluating websites

You'll use several different information sources to write your star report. You can find your information in the library and you will also find excellent sources on the internet. These could be online books or journal articles the library subscribes to, databases the library pays for that you access through the internet, and scholarly databases or websites (such as SIMBAD). Websites listed in this guide have been vetted as credible, authoritative sources of information.

You may also find other websites during your search. Make sure to think critically about whether or not the website is an authoritative and credible source of information. For example, a website hosted by a university astronomy department can be a reliable source.


Look at who is producing the information. Who is publishing / maintaining the website? Is it an astronomer? How can you tell? Can you verify their credentials?

Evaluating Web Resources
Learn how to evaluate information found on the internet.


Dr. Fleming will not accept Wikipedia as a reference in your star reports.

Is it science?

This video (14 min, 40 sec) was inspired by Carl Sagan's "Baloney Detection Kit" idea. It is hosted by Michael Shermer (Skeptic Magazine).

The video outlines 10 points to think about when evaluating "scientific" claims:

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does the source make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?