No doubt about it: The Internet is an amazing place. It wasn’t that long ago that learning about parrot care and training meant you had to find someone who knew someone with parrot experience. And if you couldn’t find a live human being to coach you, the only other choice was to raid the library for every book you could find. Chances were that most of the information would be out of date and not very helpful, but at least it was written by an expert and it was a place to start. Today, whatever you want to know is a just quick Google search away.
Fly Over Internet Pitfalls
There is one very important component missing from the Internet though, and that is the vetted expert. It used to be that in order to get published you had to prove that you had the knowledge necessary to present yourself as an expert on a topic. If a publisher was willing to publish you as a non-expert, then your book would be fact checked and you were expected to cite your sources.
We now live in a precarious state of information sharing. Many of us are still indoctrinated by a world where if something was published, then someone had made some sort of effort to ensure that the information was accepted truth. However, now anyone can publish whatever they want on the Internet. Good information is out there, but the fact checking is up to you.
“Common Wisdom” About Parrots Usually Isn’t Wise
The most problematic bit of information about parrots on the Internet, in my opinion, is common wisdom. Someone shares a new bit of wisdom about parrots that seems to make perfect sense. They even have an anecdotal story and a compelling theory about why it’s true. So without fact checking, more and more people spread it across the Internet. If it’s everywhere you look, it must be true. Right?
Wrong. My experience is often that the more pervasive these bits of “common wisdom” are, the more likely they are to be untrue. For example, the idea that your parrot won’t step up because it is above you and it is exhibiting height dominance? Wrong. Find me a scientific paper where parrots have exhibited height dominance. The lookout on the tree isn’t worried about the parrots below displacing it. It’s watching for hawks and hoping to see the hawk fast enough to save its own feathers.
I challenge you to question every bit of wisdom you believe and find a scientific source that demonstrates it validity. You’ll find much of it is common wisdom. We’re all just said it enough that believe it be true.
Be Wary Of Self-Made Bird Experts
Like any other new territory, the Internet has become a frontier for easy money. If you use smart language, have a flashy website, and few successes to show, then you can be the next expert. As an expert you can shill products. Internet experts repurpose other people’s information, exaggerate their credentials, and sometimes even create pseudonyms and lies to sell product. Be suspect of anyone claiming to be an expert, especially if they don’t have a book published by a traditional publisher or you don’t know anyone who has seen them lecture or teach. Honestly, be suspect of me as well. I would much rather you question my validity as a professional animal trainer than throw away your money or worse, learn techniques that will ruin your relationship with your parrot from a self-proclaimed expert.
Click Bait Articles Usually Show Bad Bird Behaviors
This is a new phenomenon, but definitely worth mentioning. If you see anything that includes “You won’t believe what happens next” or that promises to immediately tug on your heart strings, pause and think. If you do not recognize the source as a site you have visited before, skip it. I am frequently disheartened by the misinterpreted animal body language, bad training and even abuse that goes viral simply because it is click bait. And click bait has no other purpose other than to make money for the site that posted it based on the number of people who click through and hopefully on their ads.
Always Source Your (Bird) Info
So who do you trust on the Internet? Well, no one, really. We’re all been guilty of sharing bad information. However, you can make an effort to find the original source of any piece of information and feel certain that you’ve done your best to share truly helpful knowledge. Check the credentials of experts. If you find an interesting article, be sure to back track it to its original source, double check that it’s a reputable source of journalism and share the original instead. And the Internet is a playground of scientific papers. If you’re not sure if something is true, then see if you can find science to back it up. It’s up to all of us to make sure that parrot lovers are getting the right information.