People often cite experts to add credibility to an idea they support. A bonafide expert is someone who knows a lot about one or more specific topics. When bonafide experts are asked for an opinion about something related to their fields of study, they will analyze the facts and most likely offer accurate information. But experts do sometimes make mistakes, especially when they offer opinions about topics outside their fields of study. How can we decide if someone is an expert in a field and if that person is making a statement based on an analysis of facts or personal opinion?
In this activity, you will work with one or two other students to determine if the expert opinions shared in various scenarios are, in fact offered by experts in the related field and reliable.
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- Rename it using the format provided by your teacher and Save it.
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- Record your work in this file.
Working with your partner or trio, review the three independent scenarios on the handout. Using the three steps listed below, identify the individual’s area of expertise in each scenario and decide if the opinion expressed by that person was reliable and correct.
Be sure to include evidence to support your answer. Use the space provided to document your work.
1. Consider the source: A link is provided for each scenario. Does the link lead to a reliable source? What can students do to determine reliability?
2. Check the facts: Search online or review print reference materials to verify that the event described in the scenario happened as described. Try to find three reliable sources that confirm or deny the facts as presented.
3. Learn about the expert: Search online or review print reference materials to learn more about the expert, including his/her areas of expertise and overall career.
Here is a list of a few online resources that might be helpful in your research.
- The Beatles audition for Decca Records
- Fred Thompson American Advisors Group (AAG) Commercial for Reverse Mortgage
- Galileo Biography
- Katherine Johnson biography
- Kathy Schrock’s 5 Ws of Website Evaluation