“I Saw It on the Internet, So It Must Be True”

— Written By and last updated by

Fifty years ago, we got news once, maybe twice a day on local TV stations and radio broadcasts. Today, the news cycle changes every few minutes. Via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media, there is a mountain of information available to us at any given time. Most newspapers and news channels have websites, there are websites for just about any cause or concern, and we can access all of this from our laptop or smartphone.

The problem with this age of information on demand is some of it is fact and some is not. So, how do you know the difference? When it comes to something like politics, it’s not a fact or fiction question as much as it is a philosophical belief which we are all entitled to have. So, it has more to do with opinion and we all know about opinions. However, when it comes to science, there generally is the proven and the unproven (or yet to be proven).

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service presents science-based, factual, information to all our consumers. The recommendations and information disseminated from N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center are based on the most current, science-based information available to us.

So, what does “science-based” mean? It means that the information has been derived from controlled studies that provided the data, that it was done using accepted experimental practices and that the conclusions were reviewed by leading unbiased scientists in the field for their legitimacy, methodology, and accuracy and that the results are repeatable.

Usually, this does not present a problem. How much fertilizer do I use? What is the best variety of Crepe Myrtle to grow in my yard? When do I prune my blackberry plants? These are recommendations that we provide that often people want to know. The subjects are not controversial and so our answers are readily accepted without question. (Note: These answers are based on scientific studies conducted to provide the proper answers to these questions for this area.)

However, there are topics that we address that sometimes raise questions with people based on their personal viewpoint. This is always fine and appropriate. However, our recommendations will always be based on the best science available. We don’t rely on internet posts that are unsubstantiated or promoted by people or organizations with an agenda.

This most often arises when the topic is the use of pesticides. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service works to promote a sustainable environment and minimize risks to human health. Many of our programs promote healthy eating and lifestyle habits. We also offer alternatives for those interested in organic production of fruits and vegetables.

We always encourage the use of Integrated Pest Management practices, using all tactics including cultural, mechanical and biological to control pests whether they be insects, weeds or diseases. We generally save pesticides as a last resort and often talk people out of chemical treatments.

When recommending pesticides, we do offer the best, science-based recommendations that are available. We also only recommend those pesticides that are labeled for the intended use and at the labeled rates. The NC Ag Chemicals Manual is updated yearly with current recommendations for all labeled uses. Any new information is utilized to alter recommendations to meet currently accepted protocols. The most current NC Agriculture Chemicals Manual is online and available for purchase.