In The Joy of Search Daniel Russell reminds readers that sometimes you have to provide your own context for the information you find online. Additionally, he provides many reminders to question things that don’t seem congruent with what you already know about a topic. I implemented both of these ideas this morning when I read that former Major League Baseball player Derek Lowe writes a blog on Science.org. How I came across that tidbit is the result of going down a rabbit hole on Wikipedia.
This morning I was reading a thread about the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame selections on the Sons of Sam Horn message board (yes, there are some of us who still use message boards). Someone mentioned a retired pitcher, David Cone, which somehow reminded me of Derek Lowe who pitched for the Red Sox from 1997 through 2004. That prompted me to do a quick Google search to see what Derek Lowe is doing these days. As is often the case with retired professional athletes, a Wikipedia page was a top result.
As I got to the bottom of the Wikipedia page about Derek Lowe, the retired baseball player, I found an interesting sentence that didn’t seem like it could be accurate. It reads, Derek Lowe currently has a blog hosted under the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
My initial reaction to reading that was, “that can’t be true!” There were a few context clues that triggered that response from me. First, in my memory Derek Lowe, the baseball player, had a bit of a reputation in the media as a meathead when he played in Boston. Second, the beginning of the Wikipedia entry about him states that he skipped college to play baseball. Third, nothing in the Wikipedia entry mentions anything about science or Derek Lowe going back to school after retirement.
To fact-check the Wikipedia entry I turned to Google and searched “Derek Lowe blog.” Sure enough, I found the Science.org blog written by Derek Lowe. But it’s not the same Derek Lowe. The picture and the bio of Derek Lowe, the scientist, don’t match those of the baseball player at all. Oh, and the blog is not peer-reviewed, but it is interesting.
Applications for Education
Over the years I’ve had many students who love professional sports and will spout off any little “fun fact” about a favorite athlete no matter how ridiculous it seems to be. This example with the case of two Derek Lowes could be a good way to reach those students to help them understand how to use their own knowledge and context clues together to fact-check their “fun facts” about their favorite athletes.