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Encouraging Critical Thinking Online Unit 1 Checking Facts and Gathering Opinions How many countries are there in the world today? Find three websites that provide an answer Fill in the boxes on the worksheet for each of them

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Encouraging critical thinking online l.jpg
Encouraging Critical Thinking Online

Unit 1

Checking Facts and

Gathering Opinions


How many countries are there in the world today l.jpg
How many countries are there in the world today?

  • Find three websites that provide an answer

  • Fill in the boxes on the worksheet for each of them

  • Comment on any notable features of the sites or answers you discover


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • The United Nations has 192 members, plus one permanent observer state, making 193

  • However, other possible answers vary from around 189 to over 260

    • For example, 204 of the 205 National Olympic Committees were represented at the 2008 Games in Beijing


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • ‘Country’ has multiple definitions

    • Infoplease.com suggests countries are “self-governing political entities”

    • But constituent countries and dependent territories complicate the issue


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • For example, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are frequently described as countries

    • The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names supports this

    • But DirectGov views the UK as one country made up of these four


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Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names entry for England

http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=England&place=&nation=&prev_page=1&english=Y&subjectid=7002445 Retrieved 11 August 2008


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Extract from DirectGov website

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/LivingintheUK/DG_10012517 Retrieved 11 August 2008


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • Even with an agreed definition of country, the situation isn’t clear cut

  • Some regions have declared independence, but this has not been universally recognised – for example Kosovo, Taiwan, and Tibet


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • Various websites give an overview of the situation

    • WorldAtlas.com

    • The Geography Site

    • About.com: Geography


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Extract from WorldAtlas.com

http://www.worldatlas.com/nations.htmRetrieved 6 June 2008


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Extract from The Geography Site

http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/countries/howmany.html Retrieved 11 August 2008


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How many countries are there in the world today?

  • The answer changes as the political situation does – but old sources may not be updated

    • This Ask Yahoo answer is from 2001, but is still on the first page of results for the Google search “How many countries?”


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Ask Yahoo’s answer – from 2001, but still on the first page of Google results

http://ask.yahoo.com/20010105.html Retrieved 6 June 2008


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Summary - key things to note page of Google results

  • Definitions of central terms may affect the answer

  • Even assuming a common definition, opinions may vary

  • Answers may change over time – but sources may not be updated


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Why might we find conflicting answers to a question? page of Google results

  • There may be real uncertainty about the answer

  • Authorities may disagree

  • There may be multiple ways of interpreting a question


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Why might we find conflicting answers to a question? page of Google results

  • Some sources may be more up to date than others

  • Answers may vary in precision

  • Some sources may simply be wrong


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Questions to ask when assessing sources page of Google results

  • Who is the author?

    • An individual or an institution?

    • What are the author’s credentials?

  • Is this a scholarly resource, or a more informal one?

  • How up to date is this source?


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Questions to ask when assessing sources page of Google results

  • Are there reasons to doubt the reliability of this source?

    • Does it include information I know to be false?

    • Does it contradict itself or use poor reasoning?

    • Is it biased towards a particular view?


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Questions to ask when assessing sources page of Google results

  • Is the information provided confirmed by other sources?

    • Are references provided?

    • Do other websites agree? (A major advantage of the Web is that many sources can be compared quickly and easily.)


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Remember the three Ws page of Google results

  • WHO wrote this site?

    • Is the author a trustworthy source?

  • WHEN was it written?

    • Is it up to date?

  • WHY was it written?

    • Does the author have an axe to grind?


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This slideshow is part of page of Google results

Encouraging Critical Thinking Online,

a set of free teaching resources designed to develop students’ analytic abilities, using the Web as source material.

For the full set, please visit Intute Training:http://www.intute.ac.uk/training/


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