The other day I came across a profile of Wayne Bartz, a professor of psychology who has offered the acronym CRITIC for undergraduates to use as a method to evaluate stuff they read. In brief:
C Claim? (What is the claim?)
R Role of the claimant? (Who is the claimant? Where are they from, and cui bono?)
I Information supporting the claim? (Does the claimant offer anecdotal evidence, or results of a peer-reviewed inquiry following the scientific method of evaluating empirical findings, or something in between?)
T Testable? (Can the claim be tested?)
I Independently repeated? (Has anyone else re-tested the claims and repeated the claimant's results?)
C Cause proposed? (What kind of mechanism does the claimant offer that causes the claim to occur -- is it something reasonable, or is it something that flies in the face of current scientific understanding?)
The full article (PDF) discusses the CRITIC steps from the perspective of teaching it to first-year college students. I think it's useful for evaluating blogs, informational websites, and YouTube videos offering information that an urban home economist may use. For Rowhouse Livin', purposes, we've been all about food preservation lately, as the farmers market season wraps up. For example, for my next trick I'll be pressure-canning some winter squash some forthcoming weekend. I figure it'll be nice to have on hand some quart portions of pre-cooked chunks of squash for quick soups and side dishes as the school year progresses. Some school nights we don't roll in until after 7:00 p.m., and if I don't have dinner on the table within about a half hour of coming home, I feel like a bad mom. Or very hungry, anyway. So we've been looking up and trying to evaluate canning recipes and methods. But what to do when a recipe says, "I've been water-bath canning my pumpkin puree for 50 years and haven't killed anyone yet," or a video shows someone inverting jars after taking them out of the canner? Run the suggestions through CRITIC.
I still have a few questions about canning winter squash. It's supposed to be a good source of Vitamin A, but how well does Vitamin A hold up to canning? I've wasted time, money, and jar lids if the squash loses all its nutritional value in processing. (Approximate answer is "go ahead and can it," from a source that home economists should bookmark)? I've found a helpful home video, but after he removes the canner lid, shouldn't the dude in the video let the jars sit in the pressure canner and cool a little bit more before removing them (not necessarily, but I do)?
I think I have a good handle on what I need to know for the project, but I'll poke around a few more resources before I get started. What kind of critical thinking checklist do you go through when you look on the Internet for answers to a question?