1.5 Fact or Myth

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Often you hear or read ideas about poverty, some of them are fact and some of them are just myth.  The only way you can tell the difference is by checking to see if your source is reliable³. A reliable source will be written by someone who has the experience and the degrees.

As you read about poverty and look at the information, ask yourself the questions, how much of it is fact? And how much is just a myth. Often when something is common knowledge, we accept it as fact, when in reality, it is just a myth.

Questions are not always easy to answer, but good research demands our time.

Look at the sentences below and decide if they are fact or myth.  

In the United States, children in poverty do not receive as much care as children in other developed countries.

FACT – “The U.S. ranks near the bottom of the world’s wealthiest countries in how well it cares for its children in poverty.”

Everyone in America has enough food.

MYTH – “One in six Americans lives in a household that is “food insecure,” meaning that in any given month, they will be out of money, out of food, and forced to miss meals or seek assistance to feed themselves.”

Children are not affected by poverty.

MYTH – “Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being.”

All children have equal opportunity to succeed in America.

MYTH – “22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared with six percent of those who have never been poor.”

People that are poor are just lazy.

MYTH – “More than 10.5 million people in poverty formed the “working poor” in the U.S. in 2010, meaning they were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks.”


  • ¹fact: something true without question
  • ²myth: a story from the past, usually not true
  • ³reliable: always good, can be trusted
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Using the Internet for Research

Finding Sources

Probably one of the most popular sources for information today is the Internet.  If we type in a few key words, we have instant access to almost anything on a given topic.  But as accessible as it is, we need to use it wisely as we research for information.

When determining whether a web site is reliable, there are four questions we need to ask.

  1. What is the purpose of the site?  Some sites are for-profit and their intent is to convince the viewer to buy their product.  Other sites offer a service and their intent is to inform the viewer to make the best decisions.
  2. Is the content relevant and clearly written? Content should be well organized and clearly written.  It should be relatively free from spelling and grammar errors.  It also should be up-to-date and accurate.
  3. Who are the writers of the website?  Writers should be qualified to write on the subjects they are presenting.  You should be able to access information about the writers and determine what their education and experience is in their field.
  4. Is the content biased, or is it objective? Some writers purposely slate their articles to persuade readers to their point of view. There is a place for persuasive writing, but generally speaking, academic writers should present their findings as objectively as they can allowing readers to form their own conclusions.

Just a word about Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is an open source for information on just about any subject. It is easy to access and many students use Wikipedia for their projects.  However, there is a downside.  The way the program is set up anyone can edit and add to almost any page.  Because of this there is no way to check the accuracy or reliability of the information. If you choose to use Wikipedias, make sure to compare the information to reliable sources.


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