by Leon Pantenburg
Suppose you are looking for ways to educate yourself about survival or emergency preparedness. Maybe there isn’t a credible instructor available in your area.
You will have to read. Here’s some suggestions to tell if a publication is providing good info or BS.
Errors: As a working journalist, sentence structure, subject/verb agreement, grammar, and words are the tools of the trade. So I look upon many of the “survival” publications on the market with considerable skepticism, especially when I notice basic writing errors.
I feel like a writer that can’t pass a basic reporting 101 class won’t be able to communicate effectively with the reader.
Consider the source: A public relations company promotes a client or a product. If a PR firm puts out a publication for a company such as big oil, pesticide producers, food companies etc. then they have an agenda. Their purpose is to sway your opinion. Valid info may be there, but it will be slanted.
If a statement, presumed and put forth as fact, is made in any publication, it should also be sourced. (See verify credentials). Otherwise the writing is opinion.
Who wrote it? If someone is writing under a pen name or as an anonymous author, I don’t go past the cover. Legitimate writers have names, and ways the reader can contact them.
What is the topic? Survival/preparedness covers a huge topic base. A primitive firemaking expert, for example, may know nothing about long term food storage. A very-prepared survival mom may not be the best source for learning backcountry navigation. Make sure the author is within his/her field of expertise.
What is the writer’s reputation? Everybody has a track record somewhere. Check them out. For example, my go-to guy in all matters of wilderness survival is Peter Kummerfeldt. His record and expertise are easily verified. Check out anyone who claims to be credible source.
Should you read fiction? Sure, entertainment is a valid reason for reading something. I enjoy fiction from the early 800s through 1200s, because so much of that world history doesn’t exist. I also like fiction from the colonial period of American history.
Fiction can educate while entertaining. “The Road,” for example, gives a realistic view of post-apocalyptic America.
Shy away from the stories that devolve into senseless violence, seem overly concerned about graphic scenes of mayhem, or that seem to promote a particular political agenda. Generally, any info from these sources will be skewed.
Pay attention to reviewers you trust. Everyone has an opinion. It’s up to you to decide if a reviewer’s opinion is worth anything. I have quite a few books that I’ve reviewed myself: Worth Reading).
For some suggestions on what to read, check out this post from the excellent Survival Cache website.