Search Results: Fact or Fiction?

by | May 27, 2024 | Business, theMBAbrain


Caution: when you Click.

We desire our web, social media, and AI searches to serve up information to answer our questions. Have you noticed that all the “free” stuff you get lacks what you need? This is by design. Most online content is actually marketing. The content is generic, so it is free. Yes, it can be fun, interesting, and exciting all at once. This is in contrast to coaching and consulting, which takes time and requires a conversation tailored to the precise needs of the client and their problem. Just because it’s written doesn’t make it true.

“A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

I frequently hear from potential clients, “Why would I pay you for something I can find online?” Read on to find out.

The newest tools of AI and LLM (Large Language Models) can find and collate massive quantities of information on a topic in seconds. Finding information is not a challenge. Certainly, finding even more information on a topic is no longer helpful either. In today’s digital age, the internet provides advice on virtually any topic you can imagine. From health and finance to relationships and careers, it’s easy to find tips and tricks with just a few clicks. However, not all online advice is created equal. The challenge is transforming all this information into action. Action that helps you or your business answer a question or solve a problem.

“More is not better, better is better.”

Alex Steffen

A filter is needed.

Truth Be Told About Online Advice

Misinformation and Disinformation: Beware! Distortion through misinformation spreads false info without intent to harm, while disinformation is a deliberate lie. Both can lead to harmful outcomes.

Lack of Expertise: Many so-called “experts” online lack the chops. Especially in health and finance, following advice from unqualified folks can cause serious damage.

Confirmation Bias: Think you’re seeing the whole picture? Think again. Search algorithms trap you in echo chambers, showing you what you already believe and warping your view. This tunnel vision leaves blind spots that will eventually cause havoc.

Lack of Accountability: Anonymous advice givers can vanish when their bad tips backfire. Good luck finding and holding them accountable when things go wrong.

Social Media Goes Anti-Social: Algorithms often create echo chambers, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives and hindering new ideas and informed decision-making. Viral content tends to prioritize popularity over accuracy, which can lead to the spread of misleading or incorrect advice.

AI Sometimes Forgets the “I”: AI language models (LLMs) have limitations. AI-generated responses may lack the context and nuance needed for personalized advice, resulting in generic or misapplied recommendations. AI models are trained on vast datasets that may contain inherent biases, potentially leading to inappropriate or skewed advice. Over-reliance on AI can also undermine critical thinking and human judgment.

“LLMs are designed to produce helpful and convincing responses without any overriding guarantees regarding their accuracy or alignment with fact. One reason for this is the data the technology uses to answer questions does not always come from a factually correct source. LLMs are trained on large datasets of text, usually taken from online sources. These can contain false statements, opinions, and creative writing amongst other types of non-factual information.”

Professor Brent Mittelstadt

Building an Internet Search Advice Filter

Verify the Source: Check the credentials and expertise of the individuals or organizations providing the information. It’s essential to trust verified accounts, reputable institutions, and qualified professionals to ensure the advice you receive is reliable.

Cross-reference: Check information from multiple sources to ensure consistency and accuracy. Relying on a single source can be misleading, so look for authoritative and peer-reviewed references to confirm the validity of the advice.

Evaluate the Motive: Be cautious of potential biases or hidden agendas, such as sponsored content or advertisements masquerading as genuine recommendations. Understanding the intent of the information provider can help you assess the reliability of the advice.

Look for Evidence-Based Advice: Do scientific research and factual data back the recommendations? Avoid anecdotal evidence and unverified claims. Prioritizing well-supported information can lead to better decision-making.

When It’s Critical, Consult the Pros: It’s always best to consult professionals directly for critical matters. Certified experts can provide personalized and accurate information tailored to your specific needs, often more reliable than general advice found online.


While the internet offers a wealth of information, it’s essential to approach online advice with a critical eye. By understanding the risks and applying a robust filter to the advice you receive, you can make better, more informed decisions. Implement these guidelines in your online interactions to ensure you’re not just informed but well-informed.

Takeaway Points

  • Always verify the source of online advice.
  • Cross-reference information for consistency and accuracy.
  • Be aware of potential biases and hidden agendas.
  • Prioritize evidence-based advice over anecdotal claims.
  • For critical matters, consult certified professionals directly.


Large Language Models Pose Risk to Science with False Answers.






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