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Adult Basic Education: Lateral Reading Example

Example from Piedmont Virginia Community College

The Heartland Institute article

The article's title: "Research & Commentary: U.S. Transition to 100 Percent Renewable Energy ‘Would Lead to Catastrophe’"

Google search results for The Heartland Institute

Step One: Google The Heartland Institute

Googling the Heartland Institute will help you find what others have written about this organization so you don't rely only on what the organization says about itself. Notice the difference between the Heartland Institute's About Us page and the Wikipedia entry.

Wikipedia summary of the Heartland Institute

Step Two: What does Wikipedia say about the organization?

According to Wikipedia, The Heartland Institute "is an American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank," and "rejects the scientific consensus on climate change..." It also states that, "Heartland has long questioned the links between tobacco smoking, secondhand smoke, and lung cancer and the social costs imposed by smokers."

 

Guardian article: Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science

Step Three: Reading more about the source

Our results also include this article from a daily British newspaper, The Guardian. The Heartland Institute is owned by billionaire, Charles Koch. It just may be a biased organization and its claims may be false.

Is This a Reliable Article?

So, what did we find out? We found out this think tank actively discredits climate change, and in fact, they have a record of discrediting scientifically proven claims such as secondhand smoke. In under a minute, we learned that The Heartland Institute is not worth using for our paper. Would you have come up with the same conclusion by ONLY looking at The Heartland Institute's site? It's possible, but it's much more efficient to read laterally!