When NOT to Trust Google

How much easier is it to just type a question in Google than it is to read an entire book, go to your professor’s office hours, or wait for your doctor’s appointment for answers? Google has recently become the authority on almost everything, and thanks to its convenience, is available to anyone with an internet connection.

Though Google is often one of the first places we tend to look for answers, should be always be satisfied with the results that pop up? The quick answer is no.

Even Google will admit that it shouldn’t be used for everything- Google it, I dare you!

Though you should always sift through answers you get from search engines for consistency and reliability, here are some cases in which you need to take extra precautions or stay away from Google altogether:

  1. Medicine & Health

There’s a reason for which doctors and other medical professionals spend years upon years in training- there’s a lot to know. Yes, there are rules, but there are also exceptions, something that only a team of experienced medical staff will be able to diagnose. They have access to a wealth of specialized tools, expertise, and laboratory tests that will help determine what it is that is bothering you as well as how to treat it. Though Google might give you an indication in which direction the entire process will go, Google can’t read your body temperature, analyze your blood work, or write out a prescription. Even if you are fairly sure the answer to your question is on Google, double check with your medical practitioner.

  1. Academic Research

All your university and college professors were right in saying that Google is not a “good enough ” resource for academic research. Why? Google mostly operates based on queries and sometimes you need some background knowledge to even know what you are looking for and would like to ask. Google also has its own way of organizing information, putting popular hits first. That’s why if you are looking for perspectives that might be less known or from a high-quality academic resource, Google might not be a good place to start looking. Many journal articles are not publicly accessible, just like many books are only in print, meaning they won’t be included in the results Google presents you with, even if they are a higher quality source than other things you will find with a simple Google query.

  1. Translations

If you are bilingual, you have probably experimented with the Google translate function. Though single word to word translations might be ok, once you start plugging in sentences, the fun begins. Most of the time, the gist of the message remains, however, there are often some crazy variations to what you initially wrote. Not only is the meaning often changed, it completely misses the mark on tone and “voice” that you were looking to communicate. If you are translating a document, manual, or other correspondence for your business, reach out to an ISO 17100 certified agency that offers professional translation services. This is the only way you are going to walk away with a usable translation unless you have the proficiency to do it yourself.

Google is a good place to look for answers like “what time is it in London, England right now?” or “what’s the difference between quinoa and couscous?”. However, if there is a lot at stake, you might want to look for a more comprehensive or personalized answer from a qualified source. Otherwise you risk compromising your health, your professional reputation, or sacrificing the quality of your academic research, potentially gaining you a lower grade. And though “Google knows everything”, remember that it a way it’s just a robot that presents both the correct and incorrect information.

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