SAT范文 – Source of Information
Prompt: Do people need to know the source of any information before they can use it?
To answer whether people need to know the source of any information for it to be useful, it is worth considering what makes information useful. A key factor is that information must be correct to at least some extent, in that information proved to be correct becomes knowledge. We can, however, only know if something is correct if we trust the source or verify it ourselves. In this way, unverified information can be useful if we are prepared to verify it ourselves.
Certain ancient Greeks hypothesised that matter was made up of atoms, indivisible units, much like modern scientists do today. The ancient Greeks were thus ‘correct’ in their hypothesis, but it would of course be unreasonable to rely on their understanding of molecular structures without modern verification. Even though the information adduced by the ancients was in some ways similar to that of the moderns, we would not think to rely on it because the source of this information was one that operated without the benefit of advanced technology or the modern scientific method. Conversely, when theories of chemistry are found in a textbook, we rely on these because we know that they have been developed systematically and with the aid of modern technology.
However, information may be useful even if unverified insofar as it can act as a hypothesis that we may not have otherwise thought of and which we can verify. Using another historical and scientific example, we do not rely on Galileo’s rejection of Aristotle’s theory that heavy objects fall faster than light objects because of his possibly apocryphal experiment involving rocks being dropped out of the leaning tower of Pisa, but because modern science has taken Galileo’s useful hypothesis and since proven it. This does not mean his initial insight was not useful; we need hypotheses to prove or disprove for civilisation to advance.
Knowing the source of information is vital if it is to be completely relied upon. However, information for which we cannot verify the source is not useless, in that it can still help in the development of knowledge.