Please don’t trust me

… or anything else you read on the internet, too.

Forrester Research has a report today. They asked 5000 North American consumers “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you trust the following 18 information sources?” The lowest number of “generally trust” and “trust completely” votes went to “corporate blogs”, and the conclusion on Techmeme was “corporate blogs are not trusted”.

I don’t want you to take anything I write on trust. I try to lay out novel facts, interesting hypotheses, useful tests, unusual perspectives. News. If you believe something just because I say so, then you’re not reading hard enough. I suspect the world will be better off if you’re more skeptical.

I do agree that a lot of “corporate blogs” are not conversational, and that they echo unsubstantiated statements made by others. A lot of techblogs are the same way, as are news sources. Salinger Syndrome is a real problem.

If Forrester asked me “which websites do you trust?”, I’d have to ask them to clarify the question before I could answer. If a site provides links to source information, then there’s no trust required. If a site reprints rumors, or makes unsubstantiated assertions, then their claims are indeterminate without proof. A website isn’t some guru or messiah that you should follow with a papercup of Grape Flavorade in hand. A website is just someone talking, no more, no less.

Please, don’t issue blanket trust to “corporate bloggers”. Don’t blindly trust other types of bloggers or reporters either. No need to automatically disbelieve, and no need to automatically believe. Check to see whether what someone said can be verified and survives critical questioning, instead.